With the May Day Bank Holiday weather reliably unreliable, the organizers of the Reading Track League Bordeaux-Paris meeting have two or three backup dates – stretching out to late September – pencilled in every year. And most years they get to use a couple of them.

Not this year, though. A strong, gusty wind made rear wheel and gear selection a challenge – and sapped the riders’ strength – but the sun shone throughout and the meeting went off without a hitch.

Full results and picture gallery.

The main event of the day pays tribute to the now defunct Bordeaux-Paris classic which combined a conventional – if mammoth – one day road race with a section paced behind, at various times, tandems, triplets, cars, motorcycles and that Reading track favourite, the Derny bike.

Like the famous race, the Reading meeting is split into two parts – the first a conventional 20k scratch race where the first eight across the line qualify for the second part and the remainder continue racing for a healthy prize fund. The second part sees the qualifiers paired up with a Derny for a further 30k of on-the-rivet, into-the-wind, three-abreast action. Fortunately for all concerned – and despite commentator Shane Benson repeatedly on referring to it as the Paris-Roubaix meeting – the organizers had resisted the temptation to cobble the back straight.

For a warm-up, the Reading Track League regulars and a healthy ‘guest list’ of 26 riders from as far afield as Newcastle here specially for the Bordeaux-Paris finale – which is a round of the National Endurance Series – set off for a brisk 10 Lap Scratch race.

Rob_Jefferies_of_Poole_Wheelers_leads_out_the_opening_10_Lap_Scratch_before_being_overhauled_by_Symon_Lewis_of_Elite_Edwardes

The pace wasn’t insane, but it was enough to see several of the large field spat out of the back from the half-way point onwards. Chris Francis of Team Cystic Fibrosis and Iain Cook of VC Londres both tried to slip away from the field but there were no decisive moves and it was Rob Jefferies of Poole Wheelers who lead out the Sprint finish down the back straight. Former VC Londres rider Symon Lewis – now riding for Elite Edwardes – came round him out of turn 3 to take the lead – a lead he would hold on to despite the challenge of AW Cycles’ Stephen Bradbury and Rob King, who had to settle for second and third respectively – and Jefferies, who crossed the line third to take the win in the Bs.

A few of the endurance riders also lined up for the 500m Sprint competition – with Cook, Frazier Carr of AW Cycles and John McClelland of agiskoviner progressing to the A Final along with Lee Povey of Team Terminator. The B Final would see Jefferies, Francis, Jack Hoyle of Team Terminator, Max Brown of Didcot Phoenix and Reading Track League’s own Crazy Frog, Rob Richardson fight it out for the cash.

Safe_in_the_knowledge_that_they_will_qualify_for_the_Derny_paced_stage_the_leaders_of_the_Under_16_and_Ladies_Bordeaux-Paris_cruise_to_the_line

To give the sprinters a rest, the Under 16 and Ladies Bordeaux-Paris was up next – with their qualifier and Derny race separated only by the 500m Sprint Finals – in which Hoyle was also racing.  He wouldn’t have used much energy in the first part of the Bordeaux-Paris race, though, where seven of the Ladies and the older Under 16 riders quickly established a comfortable rhythm – and an enormous lead – and cruised round to the end while those further under 16 fell by the way side. With 8 qualifying places, the race ended with just two riders contesting the last of them – Jamil Gaida of the Rapha Condor Club and Abbie Dentus of Palmer Park Velo. It was very close on the line, but it was Gaida that went through to join Jayne Paine of Willesden CC, Lydia Boylan of Look Mum No Hands, Jason Pitt of Palmer Park Velo, Kieran Laurie of VC Londres, Max Stedman and Joseph Crolla of Palmer Park Velo and the busy Jack Hoyle.

A_Sprint_winner_Lee_Povey_of_Team_Terminator_bides_his_time_behind_Frazier_Carr_of_AW_Cycles

Carr led out the A Sprint Final, but it was old rivals Povey and McClelland who took the top two places – Povey coming out on top this time – with Cook also overhauling Carr in the closing stages to take third.

B_Sprint_winner_Rob_Jefferies_of_Poole_Wheelers_poses_for_the_camera_aheaed_of_the_squabble_for_the_minor_places

Jefferies took the initiative in the B sprint, going in to turn 4 with Richardson on his shoulder and Hoyle on his wheel. The young Team Terminator rider couldn’t quite get past Jefferies to take the win, but did pip Richardson for 2nd.

Father_and_son_team_Andy_and_Jason_Pitt_of_Palmer_Park_Velo_take_a_comfortable_win_in_the_Junior_and_Ladies_Bordeaux-Paris

Then Hoyle was back up again with the rest of the qualifiers for the Under 16 Bordeaux-Paris second stage race – along with his seven fellow qualifiers and their pacers. It was Paine that took the initiative, easy away from the front of the race with pacer George Gilbert and pulling out a 300m gap by half distance, but then she started to fade. The fast improving Joseph Crolla was the next to take up the challenge, with Pitt – paced by his father, Andy – keeping a watching brief behind. With three to go Crolla couldn’t quite hold the Derny’s wheel and, seeing the gap open up, the Pitts pounced, riding round the outside to take a comfortable win.

Crolla faded fast in the closing stages and was passed by Laurie and Stedman, too. Early pace setter Paine was 6th with Gaida 7th and Boylan 8th.

In contrast to the first half of the Under 16 and Ladies race, the first 20k of the Senior Bordeaux-Paris was run at a frantic pace, with Carter, Rob King of AW Cycles, and Xavier Disley of the University of Birmingham coming closest to engineering a meaningful break away until the cl
osing stages when, with the lead trio safely back in the pack James Solly of VC Londres slipped away unopposed to take a fine solo win.

James_Notley_of_Planet_X_follows_home_solo_winner_James_Solly_of_VC_Londres_at_the_head_of_the_eight_riders_who_joined_Solly_in_the_Derny_stage

With home favourite Matt Gittings of AW Cycles looking in danger of missing out in the closing stages, he found himself fourth in a line of team mates – with Harry Strudley and William Macke doing their turns on the front before Cam Swarbrick finished the job and delivered Matt on to the back of the lead group. The job wasn’t done, though and the scramble for the line a lap or two later looked more like something from the early stages of a Devil, with Gittings squeezing through alongside the fence to take the 8th – behind James Notley of Planet X, Chris Bush of VC St Raphael, McClelland, Lewis, Cook and Trevor Burke of Finchley RT – and, under normal circumstances, final place.

With nine Dernies all behaving themselves, however,  the organisers had decided to increase the size of the field in the final, allowing Bradbury to join his team mate in the second stage of the competition.

It_may_be_light_but_you_can_bend_steel_back_into_shape

At the back of the pack on the final lap of the qualifier, a touch of wheels sent Carr and Alex Harding of Poole Wheelers tumbling. Both riders were fine – apart from a few bruises and some gravel rash – but Harding’s carbon frame snapped in two places in the impact – as, perhaps more surprisingly, did his aluminium front wheel.

With_Xavier_Disley_of_University_of_Birmingham_long_gone_Elliot_Davis_of_GB_Fire_Service_heads_a_wall_of_AW_Cycles_riders_in_the_Remainder_portion_of_the_Bordeaux-Paris_qualifier

With the consolation scratch race for the non-qualifiers neutralised while the accident was dealt with, the riders reformed on the fence while the top 9 were removed, then set off for a 4 lap dash for the minor places. Disley led it out again, and this time he made it stick with Elliot Davis of GB Fire Service taking 2nd ahead of the AW Cycles trio of Macke, Swarbrick and King with Donal Linehan of Newbury RC 6th.

And so to the main event, which in the early stages seemed to follow the pattern of the Under 16 and Ladies race with Notley, nestling in behind the (somewhat smaller than last season) Woollen Wall of pacer Dave Dentus and his trademark knitwear and quickly building a half lap lead.

Pre-race favourite local rider Matt Gittings and his pacer George Gilbert – a pairing that took the runner’s up spot in last year’s National Derny Paced Championship – sat at, or sometimes off, the back of the field. Whether Gittings’ form had deserted him or whether it was a tactical ploy was hard to tell, but the rider that lapped the field twice in at the Reading Derny Fest last season had only just scraped in to the second stage and some were beginning to have their doubts.

Bordeaux-Paris_winner_Matt_Gittings_of_AW_Cycles_and_pacer_George_Gilbert

With 39 of the 66 laps to go, Gittings and Gilbert decided it was time to bag this one and started to move around the rest of the field. Four laps later they had pulled back Notley’s 250m lead and replaced it with one of their own. Within 9 laps of making their move, they were back where they started – and back where they wanted to be – tucked up at the back of the line, out of the wind and with the race completely under their control.

At the head of the bunch the pace was being set largely by McClelland and Bush with Burke out of contention early on and Cook and Bradbury slipping away in the final third of the race.


With 3 laps to go, Gittings and Gilbert moved out of their shelter once more and surged past the field to build up 150m or so of celebration space at the head of the race. McClelland held off Bush to take second with early pace setter Notley in 4th, Solly 5th, Lewis 6th, Bradbury 7th, Cook 8th and Burke in 9th place.

The final race of the day was for those who hadn’t qualified for the Final plus those Under 16s and Ladies who felt sufficiently rested after their early exertions to join in – including Team Terminator’s Hoyle. AW Cycles’ Nick English and team mate Swarbrick made the early running, with Davis and Linehan bridging across to them before the quartet rejoined the pack.

Whether it was the combination of Sprint and Derny Finals or just bad luck, but shortly after the race came back together, Hoyle was involved in the second crash of the day – along with Carter, Crolla and Gordon Skillen of Poole Wheelers. He was also the second rider of the day to qualify for an entry at bustedcarbon.com – although not quite as spectacularly as Harding’s.

Xavier_Disley_of_University_of_Birmingham_takes_his_second_win_of_the_day_in_the_second_non-Derny_qualifiers_race

With the First Aid team’s busy afternoon and the neutralised portion of the race over it was Disley who, again, turned the closing stages of the 20 lapper into a 6 lap dash and dragged English, Davis and Linehan away from the field – taking the win from Davis with English grabbing third place. Paine took the Ladies win with Boylan in runner’s up spot.

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