Craig crowned Glasgow's king of sprinting at opening round of National Hard Track Series

Craig crowned Glasgow's king of sprinting at opening round of National Hard Track Series

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Lyall Craig stormed to back-to-back wins at the GTRC GP in Glasgow over the weekend in the opening race of the National Hard Track Series’ sprinters league, while Kirsty Johnson took two podium places after an epic battle in the female sprint final.

Open sprint and keirin

Lyall Craig (Glasgow Track Racing Team) was crowned Glasgow's king of sprinting with multiple victories over the weekend, starting off with a flyer in the open sprint race to claim the John Paul Memorial Cup.

Qualifying first in the flying 200m in a time of 9.971 in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome – his second time dipping under 10 seconds –, Craig was three tenths faster than his closest competitor, teammate Luthias Arthur.

Facing fourth fastest Anthony Young (Glasgow Track Racing Team) in the semi-finals, Craig managed to push him all the way to the line on two occasions to ride straight through to the gold medal ride off against junior keirin national champion, Will Munday (Glasgow Track Racing Team).

Munday gave Craig a good battle over the two rides, but the more experienced Craig pipped him on both rides to take the overall title without losing a ride. Young took on Arthur in the bronze ride-off, with Arthur taking the medal in two straight rides after a tight finish to see a Glasgow Track Racing Team podium clean sweep.

Glasgow Track Racing Team

On Sunday, Craig secured his second victory in the men’s keirin in a fierce final, facing off against Arthur, Young, Munday, Harvey McNaughton (Wales Racing Academy) and Jack Pearson (HUUB BCC Race Team).

A tense start saw the riders already itching to race from behind the derny, with the six watching each other from the gun. McNaughton made the first move with a monster attack, getting to the front with two laps to go. He continued to cling to the lead until the final back straight saw Craig overtake, storming ahead to snatch he win and take his second victory ahead of Arthur, who took his second medal of the weekend, while Pearson came home in bronze after a photo finish against McNaughton.

Speaking after his podium, Craig said: “The legs felt really good this weekend. In the flying 200m, that was my second time going sub-10 and first time sub-10 on the home track and it’s nice to know the legs are coming pre-nationals. It felt really good to back up the qualifying, and with it being JP’s Memorial Cup as well, it meant a lot more than most other victories would. It was really special.

“When I went to nationals last year and I made it to the semi-final and bronze ride off in the keirin, I was already cooked because I hadn’t done long races like that before and I’d never made it that far in. Getting out two days of really hard, long racing together helps that sort of conditioning for nationals. I know mentally that if it goes to a best of three or racing continues into the night, I know I’ve got the legs to back it up. I’m really happy with the results and had a good weekend!”

Kirsty Johnson takes the keirin win

Female sprint and keirin

Scottish rider Kirsty Johnson (Edinburgh RC) finished second in the sprint behind Belgian national Valerie Jenaer, after taking the victory in the female keirin the day before.

Johnson rode well through the keirin heats in the first day of competition to reach the final after some brilliant racing. In a bid for the gold, Johnson rode conservatively until the final bell, storming over the top of the bunch and dropping in at incredible speed to take the victory ahead of Jenaer in silver and Amy Cole (Wales Racing Academy) in third.

The following day’s sprint saw Johnson’s battle with Jenear continue. Ellie Stone (Black Line) qualified fastest in a time of 11.220, with Jenear qualifying second and a disappointing start for Johnson saw her down in fourth.

But the Scot fought back, beating Stone over three rides in the semi-finals to reach the gold medal ride off against Jenear. A tough race saw Jenear take the win in two rides to give Johnson the silver, while Stone beat Cole in the bronze medal ride to round off the podium.

Speaking after her racing, Johnson said: “The sprint didn’t start great, but I felt good in the first couple of races. I lost against Ellie [Stone] in the first of three in the semis but I brought it back to get into finals. I just gave it everything I had left in the tank but it wasn’t enough to take the win after the long couple of days racing. Amazing weekend overall, jam packed with races which was really exciting!”

Kirsty Johnson podium

Photo gallery here

The Scottish Madison Championships also saw wins for Wheelbase CabTech Castelli duo, while Miriam Jesset (Loughborough Lightning) and Keir Gaffney (Vanelli-Project Go) took wins in the female and open Dernyfest. You can read the full report on the Scottish Cycling website here.

Riders will next be competing at the British National Track Championships in February at Manchester’s National Cycling Centre, with tickets still available here.