Words and Images: The Press Room
With Caird Park in Dundee currently surrounded by construction works, it was back to Glasgow for the 2018 Scottish National Omnium Championship. Safely ensconced in the warmth of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, the riders were warmed up and ready to race. As we wind down towards the end of the championship season we had three more medal fights to go inside the velodrome.
This should have been the first championship of the season way back in March but it’s slotted neatly into the calendar here at the end of September. With the best rider from four separate disciplines coming out on top it would take a lot of riding and a huge number of laps to come out the best overall. Both men and women’s championships would be decided on a Scratch race (10km for the men and 7.5km for the women), a Tempo race (also 10 and 7.5), and Elimination race and finally a Points race over 25km for the men and 20km for the women.
The Open race was off and running…this wasn’t a solely men’s affair as Neah Evans (Storey Racing) was mixing it up with the rest. It was fast from the gun with all of the riders sizing each other up to see where the competition would come from.
Some riders like Kyle Johnston (Bioracer-Project GO) were taking long turns on the front and this meant that others were dropping out the back but we also began to see who the strongest were. Sitting comfortably, and making light work of staying at the front, were Alistair Rutherford (Secret-Training.cc), Grant Martin (Vitus Pro Cycling), Neah Evans (Storey Racing), Matti Dobbins (Glasgow CT) and Zak Loney (Edinburgh RC) to name but a few.
As the laps counted down, Rutherford dominated the group each time around and in the final sprint for the line he was a clear victor over Dobbins and Evans with Johnston, Loney, Martin and Finn Harrod (Cyclism Cycling) filling the remaining places. In 8th spot overall was Kyle Gordon (RT23) as he switched his focus from long-distance time trialing back to the track.
Onto the women’s race and a more relaxed first couple of laps before the strong riders began to push the pace. It soon became clear that the four strongest riders were Ellen McDermott (Boompods EDCO NRG), Gemma Penman (Glasgow Cycle Team), Zoe Watters (Sprockets Cycle Club) and Anna Shackley (Team 22).
Ellen McDermott pushed the pace a couple of times and soon enough the four were away on their own, picking up and dropping lapped riders. With 5 laps to run the Boompods rider put in a blistering attack but she was reeled in, or throttled back, two laps later. Anna Shackley and Zoe Watters tried to go with 2 laps left but they were all together coming to the bell. Ellen McDermott came the long way around, from the back to the front and by the time they were coming down the home straight, she was a length clear leaving the others to fight it out for the minor placings, Zoe Watters just holding off Gemma Penman.
The Open race was, once again, fast from the gun. It was enlivened by two major attacks, the first from Grant Martin (Vitus Pro Cycling). He gained just over half a lap and was out front for a considerable time. He was eventually brought back by Kyle Johnston (Bioracer-Project GO) who had done the lion’s share of the work to reel him in. The next move to go was another Kyle, Gordon this time. The RT23 rider put in a big attack and looked to have the power to hold it all the way to the finish but he was being tracked by Alistair Rutherford and Matti Dobbins (Glasgow Cycle Team) and they had timed their catch to perfection.
Two laps to go and they had him and this left the two riders to fight it out for the win. Matti Dobbins attacked early but Alistair Rutherford had the measure of him and breezed past to take the win. Kyle Gordon held on to take third with Neah Evans edging Zak Loney (Edinburgh RC) for 4th on the line.
The nature of the Tempo is that after the first four laps are completed, there is a sprint on every lap with the winner picking up 1 point for each win. Kyle Gordon had turned it on and picked up 14 of those wins, with Grant Martin on 7 and Alistair Rutherford on 4.
In the women’s race it was looking like a repeat of the Scratch but this time the same quartet had been joined by Anna Fairweather (RT23). Ellen McDermott wasn’t taking any chances though and set off on her own. The other four stayed together for a while but eventually Anna Fairweather was dropped as they upped the pace in pursuit of the Boompods rider. Ellen McDermott looked as if she could have stayed away but with 4 laps to go she sat up and waited for the other three as they prepared for the closing stage of the race. And then disaster for Zoe Watters as there was a touch of wheels and the Sprockets rider crashed down onto the apron on the back straight. She was up again and pushed back into the fray but they others were now winding it up for the sprint, Ellen McDermott easily distancing the others, with Anna Shackley just holding off Gemma Penman.
In terms of the lap wins, Ellen McDermott had picked up 17 with Anna Shackley on 3 and Gemma Penman and Zoe Watters on 1 each.
Eliminate…and you’re out!
Next on the programme, after a short break, was the Open Elimination race. This is always a fast-paced event as riders try to stay near the front, without doing too much work, in order not to get surprised and find themselves at the back and facing elimination.
The first few riders were called in and then Kyle Gordon made the move of the race, not willing to take his chances with the out-and-out sprinters. He shot off the front and gained 50 metres but then it looked as if he was being held there by riders like Finn Harrod (Cyclism Cycling) and Kyle Johnston. Slowly, though he began to edge further and further ahead.
Boom, there was a touch of wheels and Matti Dobbins went down and the next few laps saw a bit of confusion as Zak Loney was eliminated…and then reinstated as the race was judged to be neutralised at that point. Two laps later and they were back in action. This time Alistair Rutherford pushed off the front of the chasers as it came down to Kyle Gordon, Alistair Rutherford and Grant Martin.
There was no catching Kyle Gordon with Alistair Rutherford just managing to distance Grant Martin in the ultimate elimination. The RT23 rider was over half a lap ahead as he cruised over the line to take the win with Alistair Rutherford picking up second and Grant Martin in 3rd.
In the Women’s race, with the elimination of Pamela Craig and then Anna Fairweather, both RT23, we were down to the same fast four from the previous events. Zoe Watters was next to go, perhaps a result of the crash earlier on.
And then there were three as Ellen McDermott moved to the front and left Anna Shackley to shed Gemma Penman for the final matched sprint. It slowed down as Ellen McDermott took the Team 22 rider high but Anna Shackley jumped with a lap to go. Ellen McDermott came around the long way once again and was well in control as she took the win, Anna Shackley in second and Gemma Penman in third.
Pointing the Way!
It was going to be close as the riders came into the last event with Alistair Rutherford on 114 points to Kyle Gordon’s 106 and Grant Martin on 104.
Final races now as the Open Points race got set for a 100-lap scorcher. The moves came from Kyle Johnston and Cameron Oliver (Glasgow CT) but this race was all about five riders watching each other…Kyle Gordon, Alistair Rutherford, Grant Martin, Neah Evans and Zak Loney…but there was another ERC rider who would come into play later in the race.
The two main protagonists were Gordon and Rutherford with Kyle Gordon getting the better of his opponent on a majority of the sprints. Eventually Kyle Johnston and his teammate Jason Roberts tried to get away but they were quickly reeled back in as the wind-up for the big finish was on.
Alistair Rutherford didn’t make the final selection and this was crucial as with two sprints left to run he and Kyle Gordon were tied for the championship on 131 points apiece. Logan Maclean was in the mix with Kyle Gordon and Grant Martin for the finale. Trying to conserve energy for the final rush to the line, they were doing very short stints on the front but once Kyle Gordon unleashed his final effort there was no catching him and he won by 15 metres from Logan Maclean who had almost the same advantage over Grant Martin by the time they came to the line. Neah Evans held off Zak Loney to take 4th rider over the finish.
Coming into the final event it was still close in the points haul and it could have gone any which way. Ellen McDermott was leading on 120 points to Anna Shackley’s 114 with Gemma Penman on 106 and Zoe Watters on 104.
In the Women’s race over 80 laps of the track it was all smooth transitions for the first few times around. Seven laps down and the first move came from Anna Fairweather…the others content to keep it smooth. With the sprint for the first counter Gemma Penman came through and brought the other three fast riders with her…Zoe Watters, Ellen McDermott and Anna Shackley.
Next to stretch her legs was the Boompods rider but then she relaxed and the others joined her. Georgia Mansfield (Torelli-Kuota-Brother) and Helen Wyld were chasing hard and made the junction. Seven riders at the front and Ellen McDermott went on the attack for the next sprint, taking it easily from Watters, Penman and Shackley.
Ellen McDermott looked as if she could have ridden away from the pack at almost any time but she was content to sit and wait for the sprints. Coming to the line however, she unleashed a blistering turn of power and crossed the finish line easily 15 metres ahead of the chasers and a big smile on her face. The final points tally was 176 having taken all of the sprints bar two and gained a lap with the other three riders. Anna Shackley finished third in the final sprint but she had done enough to end on 153 points and Silver in the championship. Gemma Penman took second in the final sprint and finished with 148 points to claim Bronze.
Just off the podium, but certainly one of the fastest and most consistent riders of the day, was Zoe Watters who ended up with 141 points and had looked a lot faster until her crash. The others will be keeping a wary eye on her progress over the next year.
There was no doubting the dominance of the Boompods rider and Ellen McDermott’s win was a very popular one here at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
Kyle Gordon, better thought of as an endurance cyclist, showed a fantastic turn of speed when it was needed and it seems as if this rider can turn his hand to pretty much any type of race. With that in mind we’ll be keen to see how he fares in the Scottish National Hill Climb Championship on 14th October on the Crow Road at Lennoxtown. It’s very steep at the bottom but after that it’s a strongman’s type of ride and could play to his strengths perfectly. Will he be able to add another Gold to his tally or will defending champion David Griffiths (Bioracer-Project GO) be able to hold him off?
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