Revolution 35: Behind the scenes

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Video - Overview of Revolution 35

7pm. A packed Manchester Velodrome has settled in for the evening’s action at Revolution 35, eighteen races over the course of the ensuing few hours. Starting with the elite scratch race and concluding with the tandem sprint, all is set up for an entertaining evening of cycling.

Emily Kay made it nine wins in nine in the DHL Future Stars contest

But for those now occupying the track centre’s technical area, the Revolution experience is far from young and the evening will bring little rest bite. Paul Barber, team manager for Cunga Bikes, belongs in that group. One of many who have graced the velodrome hours earlier, Barber and assistant Mark Lewis are ensuring that team pen is set up and the appropriate groundwork laid in order to allow riders to focus on their task later in proceedings.

“We’ll come in, the riders will bring the wheels and the rollers, we’ll check the bikes over, set up, take a look at the schedule and start planning warm ups, warm downs etc,” explains Barber. In the midst of setting up comes the 5.30pm team managers meeting in the velodrome’s boardroom. Along with the event’s technical director, event directors, chief commissaire and Future Stars liaison, team managers are briefed on the schedule, regulations, helpers for riders and pen and warming up space. Once complete, it’s back to the track centre with around an hour remaining until the racing commences.

Set up by Irish cyclist David O'Loughlin, a three-time winner of the Irish national road race, Beijing Olympian and potential London athlete in the omnium event, Cunga entered the event 4th in the team championship with Emily Kay thus far dominating the girls’ Future Stars contest, winning all six races in her bid for a third successive title. With seven-time Irish national track and road champion Martyn Irvine (also aiming for the omnium in 2012) alongside O'Loughlin, the Future Star competitors amongst the Cunga ranks needn’t look far for mentoring.

Paul Barber

Barber on hand to assist a Cunga rider

Barber elaborates: “David is a really accomplished rider. We always say to the younger riders ‘watch how the elites ride, how they warm up’. A lot of the them, even though 15 and 16, are really experienced, they’ve been on Great Britain’s Talent Team and ODP and they know the drill whereas with some of the others if it’s their first time they need more of a holding hand.

“With the elite riders I won’t be telling them to warm up and warm down, I'll just be telling them how long until their next event so they know how much time they’ve got to build into their warm up and warm down programme, there is nothing more I can add to what they do on that other than making sure they are there and ready, with the right gear and that the bike’s alright.”

Unfortunately for Cunga, due to a combination of illness and travel issues, they are without David O'Loughlin, Martin Irvine and Jesper Morkov - all three elite riders, detrimental for their championship standing and leaving the onus firmly on the youngsters to impress.

As the packed schedule of racing progresses, Barber and his associates, despite the list of absentees, are a hive of activity. Renowned for its quick fire turnaround of races, the tempo is mirrored in pens with warm ups, warm downs, pep talks and last minute checks making for a demanding atmosphere for the supporting team members.

“It is literally from half past six until 10 ‘bang, bang, bang’, I’m up and down the track centre with Mark Lewis - with the pushers and then in the pits keeping an eye on the riders, to track side during the races then back here (the pen) letting the riders know when there on and when they’re off and that kind of thing, or if there’s a crash or incident your trying to patch the riders up the best you can. One of the girls that came off at the first Revolution event, it was her very first crash on the track and it took quite a bit to assess her and build her back up psychologically to ride in the last event.”

Cunga may be light on riders but there is plenty of potential left in the pen, epitomised by Emily Kay. By the time 10pm strikes, she has made it nine wins in nine in the DHL Future Stars event with an astute tactical awareness backed up with raw power that is beyond her years. The victories all but wrap up her third successive title, it is probable that looking back in years to come the label of Future Star will not have been a misplaced one.

“She has a very positive mental attitude in that I want to win, I want to stack all the odds in my favour so when it comes to the last five laps of the race it's being in the right position for the winning sprint at the end,” Barber says.

“It’s two things, having the horsepower to do it and having that natural ability and confidence and she’s done that from a young age, to win at that age she is very talented.”

Kay demonstrates those very attributes powering round the last two corners to take the Elimination Race and with it ends the Cunga’s representation for the night. All that remains is for the final warm downs and to pack away, until the solitary remaining Revolution of the 2011-12 series on 28 January. Like the majority of the team managers, Barber is present on a voluntarily basis and when questioned his why he and many others give their spare time, his answer is to the point. “We are passionate about cycling - we do it for the fun of it.” Looking around the pens, it is a statement that is difficult tor refute based on the day’s evidence.