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Track: Day 3 report from Inter Regional Track Champs

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Location: National Velodrome, Newport, Wales
Event: 15 September 2012
Report and photos: Guy Swarbrick | |


Report

The third and final day of competition in the Inter Regional Championships is the most gruelling phase of the competition – despite only consisting of two events. After two days of fierce competition, two of the three girls from each region and three of the four boys take part in the morning’s Team Sprint – with four teams riding a final as well as qualifiers - and then, after barely an hour’s rest, the full squads take the track for the Team Pursuit – with the top four teams again having to ride twice. It also requires the teams – which are a combination of Sprint and Endurance riders – to think long and hard about how they divide their effort in the Team Pursuit.

The Inter Regional Championships – which grew out of the track competition at the UK School Games – are about the racing, of course. But they’re also designed to give the Under 14 and Under 16 competitors experience of racing at a major competition. Parents are banished from the track centre and the teams stay and eat together at a local hotel, wear team uniforms and have to display accreditation to enter the track. The officiating, too, is strictly by the book.

The Scottish Team Sprint squad of Lulu Bartlett and Flora Gillis and the Central team of Abbie Dentus and Anna Marie Hughes had the full Olympic experience – relegated, like Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish – for changing outside the designated area.

With three heats to go it was the South East duo of Kim English and Abi van Twisk who led with a 40.270, but they slipped to third as the North West pair of Ellie Dickinson and Victoria Kinrade become the first team to break the 40 second barrier – their 39.153 a second better than Melissa Lowther and Abbi Mae Parkinson of Yorkshire whose 40.170 was still good enough for 2nd at that point.

In the penultimate heat Angela Eggelton and Lucy Shaw went top with a 38.869 – comfortably quicker than their opponents Lucy Harper and Francesca Morgan-Slader, whose 40.472 put them 5th with two teams left to ride.

Hannah Blount had dominated the Sprint competitions and it was no real surprise that she and Grace Garner topped the timing sheets at the end. Wales’ Megan Barker and Emily Haycox managed a 38.672 to slip into second place – and give them another chance at the overall win in the Final – but the East Midlands duo set a new National Record at 36.651 and went in to the final as clear favourites.

They couldn’t quite match their qualifying performance in the Final – although they did go under the old National Record again – taking the win with a 36.732. Wales gave everything and slightly improved on their qualifying time with a 38.612. The North West just edged out the West Midlands to take 3rd.

Heat 3 of the Boys Team Sprint always looked as though it might throw up a surprise – Tristan Robbins, Joseph Truman and Thomas Scammell had been quick all weekend – Scammell fastest in Sprint qualifying and winner of the 500m Time Trial for the South. They were up against the Welsh trio of Rhys Britton, Joe Holt and Joe Wiltshire who managed to move to 2nd place in the overall with the first time under 53 seconds - a 52.761. But the South stormed round in 50.334 – just over a second off the National Record and almost certainly good enough to make the final – even with three heats to go.

The East Midlands trio – Karl Naillie, Harry Crew and James Shaw – moved into second with a 51.960 while the Central squad of Ben Chapman, Henry Dawson and Max Stedman went third on 52.742. The South East – Sprint winner Jack Hoyle, Louis Magnani – came closest so far to the South’s time – 51.029 – in a heat which saw the Yorkshire trio of Leon Gledhill, Levi Moody and Joey Walker relegated for illegal use of tri-bars.

The final heat saw the North West squad of Fabio Close, Matthew Gibson and Tom Rotherham – a strong line-up on paper – take on the West Midlands team of Joe Escrit, Joe Evans and Jacob Kelly. The West Midlands were half a second off their East Midlands neighbours, and slotted in to fourth place. The North West, though, could manage only 53.156 and finished 7th.

On form, the all-South Coast final looked very close – and it didn’t disappoint. Just over a quarter of a second separated the two teams at the gun – the South taking the win with a 50.555, the South East second on 50.814. In the Midlands derby it was the East Mids that took third by an almost identical margin to that in the Final – 52.266 vs 52.511.

In the Team Pursuit qualifying the times ride alone and it was the Scotland trio of Lulu Bartlett, Emma Borthwhick and Flora Gillies in Heat 4 that set the early pace with a 2:45.430. Kim English led by example and with Abi va Twisk and Laura Cheesman put the South East on top with a 2:41.531 two heats later. The lead didn’t last long. Yorkshire were next up and clocked 2:36.759 to take a commanding lead. The North West – Ellie Dickinson, Elizabeth Holden and Victoria Kinrade – slotted in to second with a 2:37.188 until Wales threw everything in to their heat and went top with a 2:35.166 – sill five and a half seconds off the National Record, set by the West Midlands in last year’s competition.

Sadly, this year’s West Midlands team didn’t get the chance to find out if they could challenge the record – Paige Millward, Angela Eggleton and Lucy Shaw had two false starts and were out of the competition. That left Hannah Blount – who had dominated the Girls Sprint competition – and Grace Garner and Charlotte Broughton – who topped the points table in the Endurance events – in the Final heat.

The East Midlands trio swept round the eight laps in a phenomenal 2:27.361 – two and a quarter seconds inside the record – to book their place in the Final. A Final against a Wales team who had qualified 8 seconds – about half a lap – off their pace. A catch looked possible and it came – albeit not until the last lap – with the East Midlands girls going in to complete the ride in 2:25.50. The catch happened between turns three and four on the final lap and as a result all 6 bikes crossed the finish line pretty much at the same time. The electronic timing didn’t register a single definitive time for Garner, Broughton and Blount which means it will be up to British Cycling to decide whether to allow the hand-held timing to ratify what would be – by some margin – yet another National Record from the East Midlands girls.

Yorkshire took third in 2:33.059 - three seconds inside their qualifying time, beating the North West – who also improved by a second.

The early heats of the Boys Team Pursuit provided a couple of good examples of what the Inter Regional Championships is all about. The South West squad of Tom Bayliss, Joel Kelly, Ricky Parsons and James Trott clocked a 3:36.833. The time was never going to challenge the leaders – they would eventually finish 9th – but technically, it was a superb ride – slick changes, even pace and a strong finish – from a region that, a couple of years, couldn’t field a complete squad.

The North East squad of Richie Allan, Scott Auld, Jack Dobson and Charlie Tanfield arguably had the largest spread of age and experience of any the regions but they recognised the contribution of the diminutive but gutsy Allan by having him start from the gate and lead out the opening lap before pulling off.

The young Wales quartet in Heat 5 were the first to move ahead of the South West – Rhys Britton, Joe Holt, Tomos Owens and Joe Wiltshire - clocking 3:36.440 – four tenths up. The Team Sprint team from the South added Harrison Fielding to their line-up, but the earlier win had clearly taken its toll and they slotted into third place behind the South West.

The times then started to tumble. The East Midlands looked slick – Jack King, Harry Crew, Karl Baillie and James Shaw going six seconds clear on 3:30.497. Nobody would top that time until the final heat – although Yorkshire came closest two heats later – Leon Gledhill, Struan McInnes, Levi Moody and Joey Walker coming within half a second with a 3:30.916. The West Midlands went third with a 3:32.595 – Jack Escrit, Joe Evans, Jacob Kelly and Ethan Lee on the verge of a second race with only two heats to go.

The South East quartet of Jack Hoyle, Louis Magnani, Oliver Moors and Hisham Al-Ramah came close – taking over fourth place with a 3:34.207 – but didn’t quite have enough to bump the West Midlands out of the 3rd-4th ride.

The North West played to their strengths – using Tom Rotherham to power them through the first kilometre before Christian Braybrooke, Matthew Gibson and Fabio Close continued on to the finish. It wasn’t the tidiest ride ever, but it was quick! They knocked two seconds off the East Midlands’ time to top qualifying and head to the Final with a 3:28.683.

And that Final saw a repeat performance. The East Midlands quartet were half a second quicker than they had been earlier in the afternoon, but the North West knocked almost a second off their qualifying time to take the win. Yorkshire and the West Midlands both took an impressive three seconds off their earlier times – both teams going faster than 2nd the placed East Midlands did in either second – with Yorkshire taking 3rd and the Wet Mids 4th.

In the Tandem Pursuit, Joe Widdowson & Marcus Partridge clocked 3:55.655 – a solid 7 seconds ahead of Sophie Thornhill & Megan Boyd with Jack Garner & Matt Waters taking third on 4:07.546. In the final, Thornhill and Boyd were determined to kill off the race in the first five or six laps and absolutely flew out of the gate. Within a kilometre they were on the same straight as Widdowson and Partridge. But they’d over done it. They started to slow, the gap started to go out again and by the last couple of laps they were almost at a standstill. Widdowson and Partridge had never reacted to the attack and had ridden their own race – which now handed them a last lap catch.

It didn’t affect the overall Omnium standings with Thornhill and Boyd clear winners by four points from Jack Garner and Matt Waters with Widdowson and Partridge a point further back in third.

The East Midlands took another two wins, a second and a third place on the final competition. A very strong performance from the Boys combined with almost total domination from the Girls made it a very comfortable win in the end – 25 points ahead of the North West. Just imagine what they’ll be like when the velodrome opens in Derby…

The North West were 18 points ahead of the third placed West Midlands with the South East twelve points further back with their highest ever finish in 4th place. Yorkshire and Wales will probably be slightly disappointed with 5th and 6th, but the competition is getting stronger and stronger every year. In fact, on almost any dimension you care to measure it – strength of competition, spirit, atmosphere – Gary Coltman, George Gilbert and their respective teams have built this into the best domestic youth track competition in the world. Probably.

Results

Inter Regional Track Championships
1 East Midlands 76
2 North West 101
3 West Midlands 119
4 South East 131
5 Yorkshire 139
6 Wales 152
7 Central 185
8 Eastern 189
9 South 219
10 Scotland 282
11 South West 296
12 North East 296

Girls Team Sprint

Qualifying
1 East Midlands 36.651
2 Wales 38.672
3 West Midlands 38.869
4 North West 39.153
5 Yorkshire 40.170
6 South East 40.270
7 Eastern 40.472
8 North East 42.451
9 South West 43.325
10 South 44.525
11 Central REL
11 Scotland REL

Finals
1 East Midlands 36.732
2 Wales 38.612

3 North West 39.280
4 West Midlands 39.403

Boys Team Sprints

Qualifying
1 South 50.334
2 South East 51.029
3 East Midlands 51.960
4 West Midlands 52.414
5 Central 52.742
6 Wales 52.761
7 North West 53.156
8 Eastern 53.586
9 South West 53.790
10 Scotland 54.408
11 North East 55.971
12 Yorkshire REL

Finals
1 South 50.555
2 South East 50.814

3 East Midlands 52.266
4 West Midlands 52.511

Girls Team Pursuit

Qualifying
1 East Midlands 2:27.361
2 Wales 2:35.166
3 Yorkshire 2:36.759
4 North West 2:37.188
5 Eastern 2:40.198
6 South East 2:41.351
7 Scotland 2:45.430
8 Central 2:52.538
9 South West 2:53.534
10 South 2:57.182
11 North East 3:01.006
12 West Midlands REL

Finals
1 East Midlands 2:25.560
2 Wales Caught in 2:20

3 Yorkshire 2:33.059
4 North West 2:36.346

Boys Team Pursuit

Qualfying
1 North West 3:28.683
2 East Midlands 3:30.497
3 Yorkshire 3:30.916
4 West Midlands 3:32.595
5 South East 3:34.207
6 Eastern 3:35.192
7 Central 3:35.629
8 Wales 3:36.440
9 South West 3:36.833
10 South 3:36.931
11 Scotland 3:42.807
12 North East 3:46.080

Finals
1 North West 3:27.743
2 East Midlands 3:30.071

3 Yorkshire 3:27.967
4 West Midlands 3:29.038

Tandem Pursuit

Qualifying
1 Joe Widdowson & Marcus Partridge 3:55.655
2 Sophie Thornhill & Megan Boyd 4:02.589
3 Jack Garner & Matt Waters 4:07.546
4 Lydia Hayden & Ana Gill 4:27.529
5 Alice Hayden & Emily Thoday 4:28.593

Finals
1 Joe Widdowson & Marcus Partridge
2 Sophie Thornhill & Megan Boyd Caught in 3:19

3 Jack Garner & Joe Widdowson
4 Lydia Hayden & Ana Gill Caught in 1:18

5 Alice Hayden & Emily Thoday 4:28.800 40.179 24.971

Tandem Omnium
1 Sophie Thornhill & Megan Boyd 7
2 Jack Garner & Matt Waters 11
3 Joe Widdowson & Marcus Partridge 12
4 Lydia Hayden & Ana Gill 20
5 Alice Hayden & Emily Thoday 25

Inter Regional Track Championships
1 East Midlands 76
2 North West 101
3 West Midlands 119
4 South East 131
5 Yorkshire 139
6 Wales 152
7 Central 185
8 Eastern 189
9 South 219
10 Scotland 282
11 South West 296
12 North East 296

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