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Track: Rachel James wins Omnium

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Location: Palmer Park Velodrome, Reading, Berkshire
Event: 11 August 2012
Report: Guy Swarbrick


As the Olympic cycling programme reached its penultimate day with the Women’s Mountain Bike race taking place at Hadleigh Farm in Essex - 35 miles East of London - the National Women’s Omnium Series arrived in Reading - 35 miles west of the Capital.

 

Rachel James of Abergavenny CC led the Series going in to the penultimate round - having won at Welling and Dudley – but only by a single point from Janet Birkmyre of TORQ Performance. Birkmyre won the opening round at Herne Hill and has stayed in contention with two second places behind James and 34 points ahead of Lydia Boylan of Look Mum No Hands. That gap is mostly a reflection of the the fact Boylan missed the Dudley Grand Prix, having come second at Herne Hill and third at Welwyn.

Running alongside the Omnium was the latest of this season’s Derny Fests. Not a series in their own right – the Welwyn Round and Reading’s Derny-based Bordeaux-Paris meeting are rounds of the National Hard Track Endurance League – they are, nonetheless, popular competitive events in their own right. And with the Reading event coming just a week before the National Derny Championships at Herne Hill, it was also a chance for some of the protagonists in that event to get some miles in behind the motors.

Women’s Omnium

The programme opened with the Women’s Scratch, which set the pattern for the rest of the afternoon. Sisters Rosie and Hannah Blount of Derby Mercury took to the head of the field at the bell, with the final sprint being won by James – who took it relatively comfortably in the end – from Birkmyre, Rosie Blount and Boylan.

The Blount sisters were there or thereabouts in the Pursuit, too with Hannah clocking 2:38.67 for fifth, just a whisker behind Rosie on 2:38.41. There were no surprises in the top three, though, with sprinter James putting in a very creditable 2:36.80 for 3rd, Birkmyre taking 2dn with a 2:32.78 and Boylan taking over three seconds off that time with a 2:29.57. That left James and Birkmyre tied for the lead with 4 points, with Boylan a point behind.

If there were no surprises in the Pursuit, there certainly were in the Points race with Katie Archibald of Edinbugh Racers slipping off the head of the field with Eleanor Jones of VC St Rapahel. Archibald and Jones clocked up the points early on and, in the second half of the race, Boylan set off on a solo chase to try to bridge the gap.

Jones faded in the later stages as Archibald made the junction to the bunch to secure the win and Boylan picked up the final sprint – despite some confusion as to who should get the bell and when – to take second place. Jones was third, with James fourth, Rosie Blount fifth and Hannah sixth. Birkmyre was down in ninth, which was very significant for the overall leaderboard.

Going in to the penultimate event, the Sprint, Boylan led on seven points, one ahead of James with Blount now third on 12 points, one clear of Birkmyre. The Sprint format limits the possible damage with the heats based on the riders’ standings at that point, so the four leaders would be battling for the four lowest points scores.

It was no surprise to that James won the heat and Birkmyre’s 4th place effectively ended her challenge for a podium place. Boylan pipped Blount on the line for second, which kept her in contention for top spot and all but guaranteed Blount would finish third.

Young Welsh sprinter Sarah Crowley was the one interloper in the top five – clocking 39.83 to take fourth, one place ahead of Boylan on 40.06. That result, coupled with Blount’s second place on 39.10 kept Boylan 3 points clear in second place, while James’ 37.67 confirmed her four point margin at the top. Birkmyre’s third place on 39.41 kept her in fourth place and left her in the hunt with only one round remaining in Dundee next month.

Reading Derny Fest

Last year’s winner Matt Gittings breezed through to the Final from the first heat with George Gori of La Fuga Sigma Sport and Will Macke of AW Cycles joining him as Alex Wise of VC St Raphael, Glen O’Brien of CC Luton, Sarah Brook of Mulebar Girl and Ian Greenstreet of Newbury RC – who had all been in contention early on, faded.

With only six riders in Heat 3, only were to go through and despite losing a Derny early on, Rob King of AW Cycles joined his team mate Nick English, who had ridden away from the rest of the field to book is place in what would turn out to be an eventful Final. Corrine Hall of Node 4 Giordana, Mark Welle of RSA Cycling Team and Toby Blackman of VC Londres had all looked competitive – and David Jack at least had a broad grin on his face…

Martyn Harris of banjocycles.com led most of the third heat, with Johannes Roux of Giant CC-Halo Films never far away. James Solly of VC Londres was biding his time and swept past to clinch his place in the Final as Harris faded. Jason Pitt of AW Cycles, Jason Streather of VC St Raphael, Sam Sturgeon of AW Cycles and Cameron Frazer of La Fuga Sigma Sport would all have to settle for Minor Finals.

In the first of those – the 15km Minor Final for those at the lower end of the heats – Wise – paced by Tony Hibbert - and Greenstreet and his pacer Sean Bannister rode away from the rest, with Greenstreet fading towards the end to leave Wise with a comfortable victory. Greenstreet had enough left to hold off Fraser and Pip Taylor, who took third place.

Pitt – paced by his father Andy - took the head of the field in the 20km Minor Final with 10 laps to go and looked to have the race sewn up. He’d gone too early, though, and as the laps ticked away it was Hall and Derek Marloe who took over to the front, pulling out a big lead with two laps to go. Again, it looked like it was all over but there was one more twist as Marke Welle and pacer George Gilbert swept through at the bell to take the penultimate race of the day. Hall held on to second with Streather and Macolm Freeman securing third spot.

Crashes in Derny paced racing are rare – partly because the riders are aware of how serious the consequences are. That doesn’t stop them riding hard, but it does stop them riding recklessly. So when accidents do happen, it’s usually through an unfortunate set of circumstances or a mechanical failure.

In the early stages of the main final, with Roux and Bannister in front and English and Taylor in second place, English seemed to react late to his Derny slowing on the entry to turn one. The bike threw him off and they cartwheeled down the track together. English ended up in the track centre but had the presence of mind to pull the bike off the track before it was hit by any of the following riders.

As reactions go, it was only matched by third placed George Gilbert and Matt Gittings, which Gilbert going left around the inside of the tumbling English and Gittings right around the outside, before joining up again on the other side.

The race was stopped while English received first aid, changed his wheel and made his way back to the track for the restart. Heavily bandaged and bloodied, he not only made it back in to the race, he made his way to the front of the race with Roux and Bannister behind, Gittings and Gilbert in third and Solly and Hibbert in fourth.

With 25 laps to go, Gittings and Gilbert swept past and away from the field, with Roux fading to leave English and Solly battling over second. They were still neck and neck with 10 laps to go as Gittings and Gilbert tucked in behind them, waiting for the right moment to take the lap and clinch the win.

That they did with three laps to go, leaving English and Solly to fight it out. They were side-by-side coming off turn four on the final lap when English started to lose touch with pacer Taylor. He dug in and tried to get back on, but it was too late and Solly eased past to clinch second as they approached the line.

With several of the favourites not present - and with Gittings winning with bags to spare - the race didn’t tell us much about the likely outcome of next week’s National Championships, but it did confirm that the AW Cycles rider will once again be in the running for a podium place.

Results:

Women’s Omnium
Scratch Race:
1 Rachel James Abergavenny CC
2 Janet Birkmyre TORQ Performance
3 Rosie Blount Derby Mercury
4 Lydia Boylan Look Mum No Hands
5 Imogen Farlie Team Terminator
6 Laura Clode VC St Raphael
7 Hannah Manley For Viored
8 Hannah Blount Derby Mercury
9 Katie Archibald Edinburgh Racers
10 Rachel Stedman Birmingham University
11 Nicci Meadows VC St Raphael
12 Eleanor Jones VC St Raphael
13 Sara Gent VO2 Development Team
14 Sarah Crowley Cardiff Ajax CC
Individual Pursuit:
1 Lydia Boylan Look Mum No Hands 2:29.57
2 Janet Birkmyre TORQ Performance 2:32.78
3 Rachel James Abergavenny CC 2:36.80
4 Rosie Blount Derby Mercury 2:38.41
5 Hannah Blount Derby Mercury 2:38.67
6 Eleanor Jones VC St Raphael 2:40.47
7 Katie Archibald Edinburgh Racers 2:42.40
8 Nicci Meadows VC St Raphael 2:43.96
9= Hannah Manley For Viored 2:46.64
9= Sarah Crowley Cardiff Ajax CC 2:46.64
11 Rachel Stedman Birmingham University 2:47.64
12 Laura Clode VC St Raphael 2:51.33
13 Sara Gent VO2 Development Team 2:53.14
14 Imogen Farlie Team Terminator 2:55.40
Points:
1 Katie Archibald Edinburgh Racers
2 Lydia Boylan Look Mum No Hands
3 Eleanor Jones VC St Raphael
4 Rachel James Abergavenny CC
5 Rosie Blount Derby Mercury
6 Hannah Blount Derby Mercury
7 Imogen Farlie Team Terminator
8 Rachel Stedman Birmingham University
9 Janet Birkmyre TORQ Performance
10 Laura Clode VC St Raphael
11 Nicci Meadows VC St Raphael
12 Sara Gent VO2 Development Team
13 Hannah Manley For Viored
14 Sarah Crowley Cardiff Ajax CC
Sprint:
1 Rachel James Abergavenny CC
2 Lydia Boylan Look Mum No Hands
3 Rosie Blount Derby Mercury
4 Janet Birkmyre TORQ Performance
5 Imogen Farlie Team Terminator
6 Hannah Blount Derby Mercury
7 Eleanor Jones VC St Raphael
8 Katie Archibald Edinburgh Racers
9 Nicci Meadows VC St Raphael
10 Hannah Manley For Viored
11 Laura Clode VC St Raphael
12 Rachel Stedman Birmingham University
13 Sarah Crowley Cardiff Ajax CC
14 Sara Gent VO2 Development Team
500m Time Trial:
1 Rachel James Abergavenny CC 37.67
2 Rosie Blount Derby Mercury 39.10
3 Janet Birkmyre TORQ Performance 39.41
4 Sarah Crowley Cardiff Ajax CC 39.83
5 Lydia Boylan Look Mum No Hands 40.06
6 Hannah Blount Derby Mercury 40.27
7 Laura Clode VC St Raphael 42.75
8 Imogen Farlie Team Terminator 42.77
9 Eleanor Jones VC St Raphael 42.83
10 Nicci Meadows VC St Raphael 43.15
11 Hannah Manley For Viored 43.56
12 Katie Archibald Edinburgh Racers 43.98
13 Sara Gent VO2 Development Team 45.03
14 Rachel Stedman Birmingham University 47.00
Overall:
1 Rachel James Abergavenny CC 10 points
2 Lydia Boylan Look Mum No Hands 14
3 Rosie Blount Derby Mercury 17
4 Janet Birkmyre TORQ Performance 20
5 Hannah Blount Derby Mercury 31
6 Eleanor Jones VC St Raphael 37
7 Katie Archibald Edinburgh Racers 37
8 Imogen Farlie Team Terminator 39
9 Laura Clode VC St Raphael 46
10 Nicci Meadows VC St Raphael 49
11 Hannah Manley For Viored 50
12 Sarah Crowley Cardiff Ajax CC 54
13 Rachel Stedman Birmingham University 55
14 Sara Gent VO2 Development Team 65

Reading Derny Fest
Heat 1:
1 Matt Gittings AW Cycles
2 George Gori La Fuga Sigma Sport
3 Will Macke AW Cycles
4 Sarah Brook Mulebar Girl
5 Glen O’Brien CC Luton
6 Ian Greenstreet Newbury RC
7 Alex Wise VC St Raphael
Heat 2:
1 Nick English AW Cycles
2 Rob King AW Cycles
3 Mark Welle RSA Cycling Team
4 Corrine Hall Node 4 Giordana
5 Toby Blackman VC Londres
6 David Jack BC Private Member
Heat 3:
1 James Solly VC Londres
2 Johannes Roux Giant CC – Halo Films
3 Martyn Harris banjocycles.com
4 Jason Pitt AW Cycles
5 Jason Streather VC St Raphael
6 Sam Sturgeon AW Cycles
7 Cameron Fraser La Fuga Sigma Sport
Minor Final 15k:
1 Alex Wise VC St Raphael
2 Ian Greenstreet Newbury RC
3 Cameron Frazer La Fuga Sigma Sport
4 Sam Sturgeon AW Cycles
5 Toby Blackman AW Cycles
Minor Final 20k:
1 Mark Welle RSA Cycling Team
2 Corrine Hall Node 4 Giordana
3 Jason Streather VC St Raphael
4 Sarah Brook Mulebar Girl
5 Jason Pitt AW Cycles
6 Glen O’Brien CC Luton
Final:
1 Matt Gittings AW Cycles
2 James Solly VC Londres
3 Nick English AW Cycles
4 Martyn Harris banjocycles.com
5 Johannes Roux Giant CC-Halo Films
6 George Gori La Fuga Sigma Sport
7 Rob King AW Cycles
8 Will Macke AW Cycles


British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.