On the kind of day that might have been made for outdoor track racing, the first round of the Derny Fest Series took place at Herne Hill – with a bumper field contesting the Women’s Omnium which was skilfully interleaved between the heats and Finals.
The Derny Fest heats were fairly straightforward with Alex Wise of VC St Raphael – paced by Davie Urquhart and Symon Lewis of Elite Edwardes partnered with father Mick – taking the first two spots with Derek Marloe guiding Callum Watson of City of Edinburgh RC home to the third qualifying spot.
Heat two was dominated by Prestige VC’s John McClelland – paced by Tim Read – and the other father/son duo of AW Cycles’ Sam and Clive Sturgeon. After cruising round together for much of the race, McClelland and Read pulled away in the last couple of laps to stamp their authority on the heat while a late surge from David Jack and George Gilbert secured the last of that heat’s finals berths.
Heat three saw Philip Watkins – paced by Clive Sturgeon – join VCL’s James Solly - paced by Tony Hibbert – and pre-race favourite James Holland- Leader of Prestige VC – paced by meeting organiser Graham Bristow.
If the heats had been straightforward, the Final was anything but. Holland-Leader and Bristow established an early lead and set a high tempo but Wise and Urquhart took station with them at the front of the race and the two teams started to build a solid lead – opening the gap out to half a lap with just 6 of the 66 laps gone. McClelland and Read recognised the danger and started to reel them in closing to within 50 metres with 10 laps gone. Even by this stage only Solly and Hibbert and the Lewis pairing, another 50 metres behind the main action, still looked like they were in contention and Jack and Gilbert were already on the verge of being lapped by the leaders.
With 53 laps to go, the lead group which now included McClelland and Read, started to lap the field, with no sign that the pace might ease off. Watson and Sturgen were lapped over the next five laps and with a third of the race gone only the leading trio and Solly were on the lead lap.
Lewis passed Solly and moved forward steadily – seeming to take and age to join the lead group which had Watkins, a lap down, attached at the rear. That left Solly the last rider on the lead lap but half a lap down and dropping back. There was little doubt, with 40 laps to go, that the winner would come from the lead group but little hint, at this point, of the drama that would unfold.
At the half distance mark things started to develop at both ends of the lead group. Wise started to feel the pain and was struggling to hold Urquhart’s wheel, while Holland-Leader and Bristow were piling on the pressure at the front and starting to ease out a gap.
Wise dropped away quickly with McClelland holding Holland-Leader’s wheel and Lewis sitting just of the leading pair. Wise was lapped a couple of laps later and then with 30 laps to go, McClelland punctured.
He pulled off and changed his rear wheel but the pace was high and the lap counter came down relentlessly. He rejoined the race just behind the lead group but what he didn’t know was that he had taken four laps to change the wheel and was allowed only three. He was a lap down, but thought he was challenging for the lead.
It took him half a dozen of laps to get back on terms with the leaders but he rejoined the front of the race and even with McClelland’s lap to consider, we effectively had the top three in the race together on the track – albeit with two back markers sat between McClelland and the battle for the win, which looked for all the world as though it was going to be between Lewis and Holland-Leader.
With 16 laps to go McClelland finally found a way past the back markers and joined Lewis and Holland-Leader at the front of the race and a lap later, the penultimate twist in the afternoon’s drama arrived as Holland-Leader started to crack – dropping off Bristow’s wheel and struggling to get back on.
Two laps later and Holland-Leader was gone, leaving Lewis and McClelland together with Solly a couple of laps down tagging on the back of the lead group.
With 10 laps to go Holland-Leader was drifting further back and the lead duo on the track had distanced themselves from Solly but at this point Holland Leader was still in second place in the race. That wouldn’t last long, though, as he was reeled in a lapped by Lewis/unlapped by McClelland. Crucially for the day’s final twist, Solly hadn’t lost too much ground and also eased past the early leader.
In the closing laps, McClelland flew past Lewis but lost Read’s wheel almost before he’d pulled back down to the datum line. Lewis pulled back ahead and started to ease away – he’d be untroubled for the remainder of the race and would go on to take a comfortable win.
Behind him, though, McClelland would fall back to Solly and the two of them would surge past Holland-Leader on the line – which confirmed McClelland in second place but saw Solly snatch third on the line. It was a brilliant piece of tactical riding from his pacer Hibbert who had to convince Solly after the race that they’d made the podium.
Robert Moore and Alex Christians took a London Phoenix 1-2 in the Minor Final.
Speaking to British Cycling after the Final, Symon Lewis said: “It went great for me. Not only winning but winning with my dad pacing made the day great.We knew we could win, but it was a case of riding our own race. We knew that someone would attack, but when all three favourites went straight from the start, it meant I had to react early on - though we brought them back without too much effort.”
“I was aware of what was happening and it helped as we could put some pressure on and get a gap when other riders were having difficulty. I was trying to read the body language of the rides and could see it was hurting them. The only thing I wasn’t aware of was how John McClleland was doing when sitting behind me near the end.
Regarding the rest of the series and the Nationals, he commented: “I’ll be at Welywn next weekend and will be competing in other rounds but taking them as they come - no pressure. For the Nationals, I’ll hopefully hit my peak right and get through to the final. A podium would be nice!”
Herne Hill Derny Fest Final
1 Symon LEWIS/Mick LEWIS Edwardes Elite Cycling
2 John McCLELLAND/Tim READ Prestige VC @ 1 lap
3 James SOLLY/Tony HIBBERT VC Londres
4 James HOLLAND-LEADER/Graham BRISTOW Prestige VC
5 Philip WATKINS/Malcolm FREEMAN BC Private Member @ 2 laps
6 Callum WATSON/Derek MARLOE City of Edinburgh RT
7 Sam STURGEON/Clive STURGEON AW Cycles
DNF Alex WISE/ David URQUHART VC St Raphael
DNF David JACK/George GILBERT BC Private Member
The Women’s Omnium kicked off with a 25 rider field in a Scratch race which saw Adel Tyson-Bloor of VC St Raphael and Charlene Joiner of the City of Edinburgh break away and open up a 75m lead. They held it for several laps before Joiner decided to rejoin the main group and take her chances in the gallop. Tyson-Bloor continued on alone, holding the gap lap after lap until the bell when the charging pack surged past her with young sprinter Ellie Coster of Bush Healthcare taking the win from Rachel James of Abergavenny RC and Janet Birkmyre. Joiner’s decision to give up her place in the break was rewarded with a fourth place while Tyson-Bloor’s brave gamble saw her finish 22nd.
The six lap Pursuit shuffled the pack somewhat, with the first two in the Scratch – Coster and James – finishing down in 15th and 14th places respectively. That dropped them to joint sixth overall behind Emma Baird who could only manage ninth in the Pursuit and Hannah Blount who finished one place higher.
Joiner’s time of 2:27.81 was good enough for third and moved her in to second overall while Lydia Boylan of Look Mum No Hands – who’d finished seventh in the Scratch – set the second fastest time at 2:28.44 to move in to third overall.
Top of the leaderboard, though, was Birkmyre whose time of 2:25.42 was comfortably quickest and left her three points clear of Joiner in the overall standings.
James continued her remarkable debut track meet with a win in the Points race, moving her up to fourth overall but even at this early stage the overall result was starting to have a familiar look to it. Second place for Birkmyre consolidated her lead in the overall standings - although Boylan’s second place meant that she moved up to second and the gap only increased to six points. Third for Kate Archibald of Edniburgh Racers – after a sixth in the Pursuit – moved her up to ninth although her 19th place finish in the opening Scratch race was inevitably going to limit how far she could climb up the leaderboard.
Kim English of Welwyn Wheelers – still, like Coster, an Under 16 – took a fine fourth and the ever consistent Joiner finished sixth to stay in touch with Birkmyre and Boylan for the overall.
The penultimate event in the new format Omnium restricts the ability of the sprinters to claw back too much ground in the overall, with heats run according to overall ranking at that point. Boylan won the first heat – to take the minimum one point in the overall competition – with Joiner second and Coster pipping Birkmyre on the line to take fourth.
James won the second heat from Baird which meant that, overall, Birkmyre still lead by three points from Boylan with Joiner third – a further two points back – and James hanging on in fourth, seven points behind Joiner.
Birkmyre’s three point lead might have looked – on paper, at least - a little too slim for comfort going in to the 500m Time Trial, but her dominant performance in the Final event ensured that she would extend her overall lead and confirm the Omnium win. Her time of 37.56 was within a whisker of a second quicker than second place James who clocked 38.54. That, combined with Joiner’s worst result of the day - 11th with a 41.5 – ensured that James moved up into third overall.
James had closed the gap to Boylan – sixth on 39.69 – to five points, but the Look Mum No Hands rider hung on to second overall. Joiner had enough of a cushion from the earlier events to stay fourth while Coster’s seventh place in the Time Trial moved her into fifth overall and highest placed Junior.
The Blount sisters – Rosie and Hannah – finished third and fifth in the 500m – with Hannah’s fifth place moving her to seventh overall. Emma Baird split the Derby Mercury duo to confirm her sixth overall.
1 Ellie COSTER Bush Healthcare
2 Rachel JAMES Abergavenny RC
3 Janet BIRKMYRE TORQ Performance
4 Charline JOINER City of Edinburgh RT
5 Hanna BLOUNT Derby Mercury
6 Emma BAIRD City of Edinburgh RT
1 Janet BIRKMYRE TORQ Performance 2.25.42
2 Lydia BOYLAN Look Mum No Hands
3 Charline JOINER City of Edinburgh RT 2.28.81
4 Sarah BROOK Mule Bar Girls 2.31.52
5 Louise HASTON City of Edinburgh RT 2.32.36
6 Katie ARCHIBALD Edinburgh Racers 2.33.37
1 Rachel JAMES Abergavenny RC
2 Janet BIRKMYRE TORQ Performance
3 Lydia BOYLAN Look Mum No Hands
4 Katie ARCHIBALD Edinburgh Racers
5 Kimberley ENGLISH Welwyn Wheelers
6 Charline JOINER City of Edinburgh RT
1 Lydia BOYLAN Look Mum No Hands
2 Charline JOINER City of Edinburgh RT
3 Ellie COSTER Bush Healthcare
4 Janet BIRKMYRE TORQ Performance
5 Rachel JAMES Abergavenny RC
6 Emma BAIRD City of Edinburgh RC
1 Janet BIRKMYRE TORQ Performance 37.56
2 Rachel JAMES Abergavenny RC 38.54
3 Rosie BLOUNT Derby Mercury 38.67
4 Emma BAIRD City of Edinburgh RT 39.11
5 Hanna BLOUNT Derby Mercury 39.5
6 Lydia BOYLAN Look Mum No Hands 39.69
1 Janet BIRKMYRE TORQ Performance 11
2 Lydia BOYLAN Look Mum No Hands 19
3 Rachel JAMES Abergavenny CC 24
4 Charline JOINER City of Edinburg RT 26
5 Ellie COSTER Bush Healthcare 33
6 Emma BAIRD City of Edinburg RT 34
7 Hanna BLOUNT Derby Mercury 39
8 Louise HASTON City of Edinburg RT 49
9 Sarah BROOK Mule Bar Girl 49
10 Sarah CROWLEY Cardiff Ajax CC 55