As tradition dictates, Reading Track League’s Bordeaux-Paris tribute meeting on the May Bank Holiday weekend was postponed to the August Bank Holiday and, as tradition dictates, the rain clouds gathered in an attempt to push it into September.

Results and pictures

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The day started bright and sunny and despite the clouds rolling in did, at least, stay dry… right up until the start of the warm-up, when the heavens opened. It didn’t last, though – and the tarmac at Reading dries out pretty quickly – so within 20 minutes of the scheduled start time the Youths were being sent out to see how slippery the painted lines were.

With cash prizes all day, the races were hotly contested – despite the fact that some of the younger riders had spent the previous week at the Youth National Track Championships in Newport. It was Jason Pitt of Palmer Park Velo – who has dominated the Under 16 racing this year – who took the first win of the day in the Devil, with team mates Abbie Dentus and Cameron Thomson taking the top Under 14 and Under 12 prizes.

The opening Senior race of the day was a sun soaked 10 lap A & B scratch. The riders looked nervous ahead of the main event and, although AW Cycles’ Gavin Spiers and Gawain Bailey of Team Zappi’s both had digs early on, by the end riders who were clearly using the event as a warm-up started to drop out, leaving Agiskoviner team mates John McClelland and Alex Wise to battle it out for the A win – McClelland making the jump and holding on to take the win with local rider Rob King taking third for AW Cycles. Jun Aishima of Reading CC took the B win from William Macke of Palmer Park Velo and Reading CC team mate Trevor Bradbury with Estelle Rogers of Rollapalluza leading home Natalie Hill of Hillingdon Slipstreamers in the Ladies.

With the weather looking set to worsen, the programme was re-arranged to give the Youth and Senior feature races priority with the  Under 16s and Ladies up first for the un-paced portion of the Bordeaux-Paris headliner.

Bordeaux-Paris was a phenomenon among cycle races. A 350 mile race to the French capital, with a twist. The first portion of the race was a conventional road race, starting at 2am in Bordeaux and heading in to the heart of France through the early hours of the morning. The format varied over the years, but the closing portion of the event was paced – using motorbikes, cars, tandems and triplets but, for the most part, Derny bikes. The little pedal assisted bikes provided the slipstream for the riders to cover the second half of the race into Paris.

The Reading meeting follows a similar format with the riders taking part in a scratch race first and the top finishers – seven this year – then taking part in a Derny paced race.

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The summer holidays, poor weather and clashes with the Mildenhall Grass Track meeting and the Junior Tour of Wales all conspired to keep numbers down and, although 10 riders took to the track for the qualifier, the stronger riders – five Under 16 boys plus Hill and Rogers – soon took charge of the race and cruised round to the finish. Cam Swarbrick of Team Terminator kept the crowd amused with a token – and pointless – sprint for the line on the closing lap to head the list of qualifiers with Palmer Park Velo quartet Pitt, Macke, Frazier Carr and Harry Strudley and the two Ladies completing the field. Abbie Dentus of Palmer Park Velo took top spot in the race among the non-qualifiers, from Katie Metalli of the Bristol Cycling Development Squad and PPV’s Toni Griffiths.

Next it was the turn of the Seniors to qualify and, while the top 7 in the Youth race was clear after a couple of laps, nobody was expecting the same from the Senior race. Despite the stiff breeze blowing across the track, the pace was fast and furious, with a series of spirited attacks. Bailey went away with Nick English of Reading CC early on, only to be reeled back in. Next it was the turn of Ian Cooper (Planet X) and James Millard (Cyclepremier.com /Metaltek) to sneak away. They were chased down by English, King and McClelland before the race came together again. Millard had another, solo, effort  which started to look serious when he was joined, first by Wise and then by King.

English, McClelland and Oliver Davis of Dinnington RC chased them hard, but the pace and a puncture for  Davis saw the leading trio reshuffled, leaving English, King and Wise out in front, with a chasing group o4 8 riders – and that’s how it remained to the finish, with the breakaway group claiming the first three places with Ian Greenstreet of Newbury RC, McClelland,
Symon Lewis of Sigma Sport Special – and pre-race favourite and National Derny Championship runner-up Matt Gittings of AW Cycles – taking the rest of the places in the Derny paced final. Cooper, James Solly of VC Londres and Jason Streather of VC St Raphael took the top 3 spots in the remnants of the scratch race.

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It had been clear from the moment the riders took to the track for the warm-up that the wind would be at least as big a problem as the rain and the start of the Under 16 and Ladies Derny paced race showed just how much, with riders fighting to hold the wheel of their pacer as they came in to the back straight and their pacers balancing brakes, throttle and pedals to try to maintain a constant pace.

The race settled down fairly quickly with Hill the first to succumb to the pace and the gale force wind and start to slip away from the rest. By half distance, Macke, Carr and Strudley were settled at the front of the race with Rogers, Swarbrick and Pitt together a short distance behind. Swarbrick passed Rogers in the closing stages and managed to hold on to fourth despite struggling to stay with his pacer George Gilbert.

With 12 laps of the planned distance to go, the showers returned and with 8 left the shower had become a downpour. With over half the race gone, a shortened race would still yield a result, so the bell was rung as Macke with pacer Sean Bannister and Carr and his Derny man John Wann crossed the line. As they closed in on the finish, both of the leading riders were struggling to hold the wheel of their pacers, but it was Carr who took the win, comfortably in the end, from Macke with Strudley and his pacer Clive Sturgeon in third place. Rogers and Doug Pinkerton followed Swarbrick and Gilbert in fifth, with father-and-son team of Andy (pacer) and Jason Pitt sixth and Hill and the by now very waterlogged woollen wall, Dave Dentus.

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The rain came down for another half hour but finally eased off with about an hour and a half of track time left. A combination of sunshine, wind, the Palmer Park velodrome’s quick drying tarmac surface and some entertaining laps by track league officials in their cars came together to give the competitors a fighting chance of finishing the programme.

Just to make sure, the Youths were sent out again for a 10 lap Scratch race which – following his exertions in the Youth Derny race – Pitt won, just, from Abbie Dentus, who took the Under 14 win with Cameron Thomson the first Under 12 home.

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And then it was time for the main event – 66 laps of Derny paced action – provided the track stayed dry and the clock didn’t run out. Pre-race favourite Gittings did his very best as far as time keeping was concerned, consistently banging out 30-31 second laps from start to finish and, in the end, nobody got anywhere near him and his pacer George Gilbert.

English and Sturgeon settled in at about a quarter of a lap down – a gap they maintained, but were never really able to close – and Wise and Wann did an excellent job to hold on to English’s coat tails, settling about 30 metres behind and holding station. And, that apart, there was no real drama until the closing stages. The three leaders cruised round, lapping the field and battling the conditions until 10 laps from the end when English, having fought off mounting pressure from Wise to consolidate his second place – found himself without a Derny. As Sturgeon left the track to try to figure out what had gone wrong with the motor, English latched on to the rear wheel of 4th paced McClelland’s bike but in the conditions he was too far behind Sean Bannister to get any protection from the Derny.

Unable to hold the wheel, he battled the last four laps solo, finding himself passed by McClelland and Bannister, Lewis and Pinkerton, King and Pitt and Greenstreet and Dentus.

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Fortunately, such had been the pace of the three leaders that English had laps to spare and while everyone passed him on the track, only Wise passed him for position and as he crossed the line in third place he was greeted with almost the same level of enthusiasm as the winner.

And what a winner. Without English to chase, Wise and Wann had faded in the run in, allowing Gittings and Gilbert to add them to the list of lapped riders as they started the bell lap. He may have qualified in 8th place, but in truth the only other possible winner was the rain.

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Senior A
10 lap A & B scratch
1 John McCLELLAND Agiskovoner.com
2 Alex WISE Agiskoviner.com
3 Rob KING AW Cycles

Bordeaux-Paris Qualifier
1 Rob KING AW Cycles
2 Nick ENGLISH Reading CC
3 Alex WISE Agiskoviner.com
4 Ian GREENSTREET Newbury RC
5 John McCLELLAND Agiskovoner.com
6 Symon LEWIS Sigma Sport Special
7 Matt GITTINGS AW Cycles

Bordeaux-Paris Qualifier – Remainder
1 Ian COOPER Planet X
2 James SOLLY VC Londres
3 Jason STREATHER VC St Raphael

Bordeaux-Paris Derny Paced Race
1 Matt GITTINGS AW Cycles
2 Alex WISE Agiskoviner.com
3 Nick ENGLISH Reading CC
4 John McCLELLAND Agiskovoner.com
5 Symon LEWIS Sigma Sport Special
6 Rob KING AW Cycles
7 Ian GREENSTREET Newbury RC

Senior B
10 lap A & B scratch
1 Jun AISHIMA Reading CC
2 William MACKE Palmer Park Velo
3 Trevor BRADBURY Reading CC

Ladies
A & B Scratch
1 Estelle ROGERS Rollapalluza
2 Natalie HILL Hillingdon Slipstreamers

Under 16/Ladies
Bordeaux-Paris Qualifier
1 Cam SWARBRICK Team Terminator
2 William MACKE Palmer Park Velo
2 Frazier CARR Palmer Park Velo
2 Estelle ROGERS Rollapalluza
2 Harry STRUDLEY Palmer Park Velo
2 Natalie HILL Hillingdon Slipstreamers
2 Jason PITT Palmer Park Velo

Bordeaux-Paris Qualifier – Remainder
1 Abbie DENTUS Palmer Park Velo
2 Katie METALLI Bristol Cycling Development Squad
3 Toni GRIFFITHS Palmer Park Velo

Bordeaux-Paris Derny Paced Race
1 Frazier CARR Palmer Park Velo
2 William MACKE Palmer Park Velo
3 Harry STRUDLEY Palmer Park Velo
4 Cam SWARBRICK Team Terminator
5 Estelle ROGERS Rollapalluza
6 Jason PITT Palmer Park Velo
7 Natalie HILL Hillingdon Slipstreamers

Youth
Devil
Under 16
1 Jason PITT Palmer Park Velo

Under 14
1 Abbie DENTUS Palmer Park Velo
2 Reg PAY Palmer Park Velo
3 Toni GRIFFITHS Palmer Park Velo

Under 12
1 Cameron THOMSON Palmer Park Velo
2 Callum MACLEOD Palmer Park Velo
3 Luis HINDMAN Palmer Park Velo

Scratch
Under 16
1 Jason PITT Palmer Park Velo

Under 14
1 Abbie DENTUS Palmer Park Velo
2 Reg PAY Palmer Park Velo
3 Katie METALLI Bristol Cycling Development Squad

Under 12
1 Cameron THOMSON Palmer Park Velo
2 Emma PITT Palmer Park Velo
3 Callum MACLEOD Palmer Park Velo


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