The Black Line Open at the Derby Arena was the second round of the men’s and women’s National Sprinters League – and the second in Derby. The first – way back in February – had seen Sophie Capewell of Team Terminator take the Women’s competition and Pete Mitchell of Black Line Sprinting take the Men’s.
Mitchell wouldn’t be repeating the feat in Round 2, having taken on the dual role of event organiser and sponsor – but no less than 52 riders would compete in the Men’s competition and 15 in the Women’s .
The size of the field meant that there was no room for support races – no endurance races wold be required to give the sprinters a rest between heats. Indeed, there wasn’t even time for other Sprint events – just 200m qualifying and match sprinting.
The Men’s event would see 48 of the 52 qualify for the later stages, with the riders divided into three groups of 12 and one of 16 based on their qualifying times – with each group having 1/8th finals, repechages, minor finals for 9th to 12th and 5th to 8th, quarter finals, semi finals and finals. All would be sudden death – not best of 3 matches, even in the Final.
The Women’s competition was structured slightly differently with the top 12 going on towards the Finals and the remaining three riders taking part in a Sprint Ladder which would see them continue to ride against each other in between the heats for the qualifiers.
First up was Ben Wright of Bournemouth Arrow whose time of 12.085 would eventually see him third fastest of the qualifiers in the Legro’s Training Camp Sprint – the D League.
Heat 4 saw Michael Veen from Apeldoorn in the Netherlands go fastest with a time that would eventually see him take third place in the Elite Health Sprint (B) with an 11.158.
Four heats later, Joshua’s Spendelow of Brooks Cycles went top, for the time being, in a time that would eventually put him third in the Bs on 11.037. Heat 19 saw Sean Meyer of Swinnerton Cycles become the first rider to break the 11 second barrier with a 10.873.
Eamonn Byrne of Black Line’s 11.018 put him second after 23 of the 52 heats – and would eventually see him finish top of the B competition – while team mate James Brightwell topped the Cs with an 11.431.
As we got in to the last thirteen riders, the times began to tumble. Matthew Roper of Black Line pipped Meyer with a 10.694, while Ryan Hutchinson of Team Terminator and the Olympic Senior Academy slotted in to third place with a 10.745. He dropped to fourth as team and Olympic squad mate Alex Joliffe took over at the top on 10.571 – but not for long.
Matt Rotherham of Malolja Pushbike clocked 10.492 to put himself in pole – but next up was Jonathan Mitchell of Billy Bisland Cycles whose 10.254 was enough to go clear at the head of the pack.
Things were so tight at the top that Rowan Elliott of VC St Raphael would finish 4th in the Bs with an 11.038 while Andrew Leveton of SES Racing would take the last of the A competition berths with a 11.011.
The remaining five riders would all make the A competition – the question was whether any of them would challenge Mitchell. Albin Geneix of SES went 5th on 10.760 – and stayed there as Junior Academy rider Alastair Fielding of Black Line slotted into 6th on 10.773.
Luke Button of Cotswold Veldrijden was third from last in the heats and his 10.627 put him third overall – before the second of the Junior Academy riders Caleb Hill of Brooks Cycles took 10th, briefly, on 10.945 and last man off Barnard Davies of Swinnerton Cycles stopped the clock at 10.708 to move into 6th.
Lucy Grant of Peebles Cycling Club was the first on to the boards in the Women’s event and set the benchmark with a 12.116. Isabel Whiteley of Halesowen went second and would just miss out on qualification with a 14.334.
It was a while before anyone challenged Grant’s time – Alexandra Novacki of Sportcity Velo coming closest with a 12.313. That fell quickly as the three GB squad riders took to the track. Junior Academy rider Georgia Hilleard of Wolverhampton Wheelers was the first rider under 12 seconds and took over at the top with an 11.884. Fellow Junior Academy rider Lauren Bate of Team Terminator shaved almost a tenth off that – clocking 11.790 before Senior Academy rider and Round 1 winner Sophie Capewell – also of Team Terminator – closed the session with an 11.727.
The first round of the Legro’s Training Camp Sprint saw the fastest qualifiers progress in every round except one – with Jasper van den Ende overcoming faster qualifier Carlos Les of Loughborough Students CC to progress – Les made it through to the Quarter Finals via the repechages.
The Project Clothing Sprint also saw only one rider upset the time trial seeding – Roderick Hopkins of Derby Mercury seeing off Luke Rosewell of University of Derby Cycling Club in the all-Derby derby at Derby. Rosewell also managed to get back into the competition via the reps.
The Elite Health Sprint saw three reversals in the opening heats with Kallum Stewart of University of Nottingham SCC, Jeremey Franks and Daniel Cooper of Team Terminator all go through against faster opposition. With only two repechage heats, there was no chance of the top half of the draw all making it to the Quarters – Black Line Joachim Ritter took one of the available slots and Michael Veen of the Netherlands the other leaving third and fourth fastest qualifiers Spendelow and Elliott in the minor finals.
In the Black Line Sprint the seeding held good in four of the six heats with fourth fastest qualifier Burton losing out to Fielding and fifth fastest Rope falling to Geneix. Roper did make it through the repechages but Burton lose out to Hutchinson.
All of the Women’s heats went to form on the track, with Luisa Steele of Glasgow Cycle Team then relegated for entering the sprinter’s lane when Chloe Jones of Black Line was already there – sending Jones through and Steele to the reps. Steele progressed to the Quarters from the first of the reps with Charlotte Lison of Derby Mercury joining her from the second.
Matthew Whiting of San Fairy And CC and Kevin Dunn of Black Line overcame faster qualifiers to move into the Semi Finals in the Ds – with Ryan Lateward of Cycle Team OnForm and Richard Pepper of Black Line joining them.
Whiting’s run ended as he lost out to Pepper who progressed to the final – with Lateward joining him. Dunn took third, and it was Lateward who took the win against Pepper.
The first two Quarter Finals in the Cs saw form overturned as first Rosewell and then Alex Spratt of Black Line moved into the Semi Finals against higher seeds. Hopkins and VC St Raphael’s David Heald took the other two places. Neither Rosewell nor Spratt could repeat the trick as Hopkins and Heald made it through to the Final.
Spratt took third – having qualified ninth in the Cs – while fourth fastest qualifier Heald overcame third fastest Rosewell to win the Project Clothing Sprint.
The first two of the B Quarter Finals went to the quicker seed with Byrne taking the first and Christopher Heaton of Sportcity Velo the second. Stewart lost out to Miles Annon in the third, who Team Terminator’s Daniel Cooper seeing off Franks in the last.
The Semis saw a return to the form books with Byrne and Heaton booking their places in the Final, but the Finals themselves saw Annon beat Cooper for 3rd place, before second fastest qualifier Heaton pipped top seed Byrne for the win.
Not one of the Black Line Sprint Quarter Finals ended in an upset – with Mitchell, Rotherham and Jolliffe and Geneix all progressing against lower seeded riders. And it was the top two qualifiers who made it into the Finals – although Jolliffe ran Rotherham very close.
Mitchell made hard work of the Final, too – Rotherham taking the initiative before the Scotsmen hauled him in and and eased past to take the win. Jolliffe took third.
The top four qualifiers in the Women’s competition were some way clear of the rest and it was no great surprise that Capewell, Bate, Hilleard – who’d all gone under 12 seconds – and Grant – who qualified two tenths quicker than her Quarter Final opponent Novacki – all progressed to the Semi Finals. Nor was it any great shock that the top two – Capewell and Bate – progressed to the Final.
Hilleard took third, to ensure that the three fastest qualifiers would share the podium – but while Capewell led the Final out, it was a charging Bate that took the win by a quarter of a wheel.