Report: 2010 British Ladies Club Championships
8th August 2010 | Report: Graham Sutton
This eagerly awaited six team final had added spice when Horspath unveiled Letitia Colliins as their latest signing having flown her in specially for the match from Adelaide three days earlier. It soon became apparent that this event would provide three match-ups for the price of one as defending champions Leicester went head to head with newly re-inforced Horspath for the top prize leaving Ipswich and Wednesfield to battle for the next two places. The largely inexperieneced young Poole and Sheffield teams raced for the pleasure of competing and were clearly enjoying their day free from any pressures of expectation.
In the battle for the trophy it was first blood to Horspath in heat 2 as the crowd quickly realised why Horspath went to the trouble of flying in the 27 year old Salisbury based Collins as she outpaced former British Champion Amy Crouch. Leicester had the next two winners in Jenna and Lucy Whitehead before Horspath struck again in heat 5 as Jess Lamb used her Harbourside track knowledge to head home Michelle Whitehead. Laura Watson of Sheffield was the only rider to win a race outside the two front runners in the first 6 heats when the leading scores were Leicester 14, Horspath 13 and Wednesfield 11.
In the next block of 6 races, Amy Crouch trailed the impressive Lauren Jacobs and Leicester number 5 Lauren Davies was no match for Letitia Collins in heat 9. When Rachael Edge sped away from Lucy Whitehead in heat 10 there was concern on the faces of the defending champions and moreso after heat 12 as Jess Lamb outpaced Laura Dale to make it four wins out of four from that sequence. The pendulum had swung back towards the Oxford club who were in the lead on 29 with Leicester on 27.
The newly kitted pink colours of Horspath were out in front of their closest rivals again in heat 13 as Rachael Edge notched her third consecutive race win at the expense of Michelle Whitehead. A re-match between Jess Lamb and Laura Dale saw the talented young Ipswich rider inadvertantly do Leicester a big favour in heat 15 by taking the chequered flag for 4 points. A bigger blow for Horspath came in heat 16 when Jemma Cosh picked up the only exclusion of the day when it looked as if there were at least 2 points there for the taking. Letitia Collins outpaced Laura Watson in heat 18 for her third race win so that after 3 rides apiece for all riders, the big two were neck and neck on 40 apiece.
Michelle Whitehead could get nowhere near Lititia Collins in heat 19 but scoreline equilibrium was restored a race later when current British Champion Lucy Whitehead showed a cool head to lower the colours of Rachael Edge for the first time in the match. That seemed to inspire Amy Crouch in heat 21 as she powered round great rival Jess Lamb from grid 2 but not to be outdone Lamb came back to take the race with a well executed pass. Heat 23 turned out to be the most decisive race of the championship as Horspath rider Jemma Cosh could only pick up a single point behind Laura Watson, Kristina Mines and Sharna Cox. With Lauren Davies having won heat 22, Leicester were now back in the lead with 54 points, a two point advantage over Horspath on 52. Ipswich held third place on 38, just ahead of Wednesfield on 36.
In the all important final block of races, it was abundantly clear that Horspath's championship hopes would depend more on the points scored by Jemma Cosh in heat 26 than those gathered by their big three of Collins, Lamb and Edge. Lamb narrowed the overall margin to a single point in heat 25 with a win over Jenna Whitehead but when Lucy Whitehead won the pressure race 26 from hard charging Lauren Jacobs and competition debutant Cerys Glover from Poole caught Jemma Cosh on the line for 3rd place, Leicester were firmly in the driving seat with a 4 point advantage. Michelle Whitehead could afford to sit behind Rachael Edge for 3 points in heat 27 knowing that Amy Crouch was odds-on for a championship clinching win in the following race. The powerful Leicester rider duly obliged by scorching home ahead of Rianna Brindley and the home grown East Midland team had deservedly held on to their title for yet another year.
Letitia Collins completed a fine 20 point maximum in the penultimate race to mark her remarkable UK racing debut but while the top two team places were now decided, Ipswich and Wednesfield were neck and neck for third. Charlie Ellits drew Wednesfield cheers in heat 30 when she finished ahead of Laura Dale to take the bronze position. Kristina Mines finished top scorer for Poole who earned 14 British Club Championship points - enough to confirm them as overall top club in the competition for the 2010 season to the delight of the staging club.
With Commission Chairman Colin Docker presenting the trophies and several other British Cycling officials amongst the healthy Harbourside crowd, the general concensus was that Ladies racing has a big future and the standard of competition clearly demonstrated the progress made in this championship over the last five years. Another club has yet to emerge to challenge the East Midlanders stranglehold on the competition but Horspath came very close and had it not been for an unfortunate injury to Livvy Horsley three weeks ago, celebrations would almost certainly have taken place 90 miles south of Leicester.
1st Leicester 68: Lucy Whitehead 19 Amy Crouch 17 Michelle Whitehead 16 Jenna Whitehead 9 Lauren Davies 7
2nd Horspath 65: Letitia Collins 20 Rachael Edge 19 Jessica Lamb 19 Jemma Cosh 7
3rd Wednesfield 47:Rianna Brindley 13 Courtney Aris 12 Charlie Ellits 12 Sharna Cox 10
4th Ipswich 46: Lauren Jacobs 18 Laura Dale 13 Libby Knights 9 Gemma Hill 6
5th Poole 38: Kristina Mines 12 Holly Morgan 8 Katie Metalli 7 Cerys Glover 6 Jess Lundon 5
6th Sheffield 35 Laura Watson 17 Vicky Brown 6 Jessica Slack 6 Niamh Morton 6
Referee - Mike Legge (Dorset)