After seven successful years, the Manchester-based Revolution series kicked off its 2009-2010 season with a radical new format.
As popular as ever – the opening two rounds were sold out weeks ago – the organisers decided to try something a little bit different before the crowds started to tire of the original format. The solution? Combining the popular Future Stars series for Under 16 and Junior riders with the adult series in a season long, team based competition.
Each of the named teams consists of a star captain and six elite riders plus three male and three female youth riders. Although substitutions are permitted during the serious in the event of injury, essentially the team is fixed for the duration.
With the teams introduced, the new look event started with the Revolution’s traditional opener – the Motor Paced Scratch Race for the Elite Men. Like an extended Keirin, the riders spend the first 18 of the 24 laps behind the Derny (Dean Downing’s brief excursion ahead of it on the cote d’azure notwithstanding), with the last 6 laps a dash to the line. The dash – and the first ever Revolution team points – went to Ben Swift, riding for Roberto Chiappa’s Vitesse team – ahead of Geraint Thomas (Rollers) and Alex Dowsett (Pacers).
Next up were the Future Stars Girls, who started their evening with an Elimination race, which was going well until, with ten riders remaining, Beth Crumpton and Matthew Crampton’s younger sister Jess crashed just after the finish line. The race was neutralised for several laps before Jess was stretchered away with a suspected broken collar bone. The race continued and it was Amy Roberts of the Slicks team, captained by Craig MacLean, who won the last lap sprint from Lucy Garner of the Pacers and Emily Kay of the Dynamo team.
Before the start of 200m Time Trial event, John Paul of Rob Hayles’ Forza team attempted to break the Under 16 national record which stood at 11.386 seconds. He clocked 11.08 in qualifying at the National Youth Track Championships in August, but the hand timed result wasn’t deemed sufficiently accurate to stand. He couldn’t match that time this evening, but the former trackcycling Team Terminator rider did take the record with an 11.30 – definitely one to watch for the 2016 Olympics…
If a young Scot set the benchmark, it was his older countryman who took the win – Craig MacLean setting the fastest time for his Slicks team with a 10.4 second effort ahead of Chris Pritchard of Tempo and Vitesse’s skipper Roberto Chiappa. Unlike other sprint events, the first round of the match sprints was pre-drawn and the time trial was a counting event in its own right.
The Future Stars Boys were up first for a Points Race and the first points were won by Owain Doull of the Slicks. Rob Lambton of Dynamo took the 5 points second time around, with Doull failing to score. The young Welsh rider picked up second place behind Jordon Hargreaves of Rollers in the penultimate sprint to lead by 3 points from Hargreaves and Lambton. In the final sprint it was Lambton who crossed the line first but with Doull finishing second it was he who topped the Points table, ahead of Lambton and Hargreaves.
Having had 10 minutes to rest after their Time Trial efforts, the Sprinters were back up on the track for the first round of the Sprint. The first round saw Dutch rider Jelger Bisschop of Dean Downing’s Flyer’s team up against Dave Readle, standing in for the Pacer’s injured captain Jamie Staff. Readle – a psychologist on Steve Peters’ team in the British Cycling back room staff – is an ex-weightlifter and shot putter turned paralympic tandem driver and put in a determined effort against the younger, smaller Dutchman, but it was Bisschop who took the win to progress to the semi-finals.
Craig MacLean was looking to add to the Slicks points tally, but faced strong opposition from multiple-World and Paralympic Champion and World Record holder Jody Cundy of Forza. MacLean had looked mighty over 200m, though, and confirmed his qualifying form by booking his passage in to the Semis.
Next to join him was Dynamo’s Alfredo Moreno, who took a very close win over Chiappa. Itmar Esteban of Rollers (whose captain Chris Newton was one of several GB riders away on World Cup duty in Melbourne) made it two Spanish riders in the last four, jumping Chris Pritchard to take the final spot with ease.
Up until this point, the new format hadn’t really led to much in the way of team tactics, but that changed in the Girls 6 Lap Dash where the Forza duo of Hannah Barnes and Harriet Owen took the front and stayed there, taking the top two spots ahead of the Slicks’ Amy Roberts.
The Kilometre Madison Time Trial has become a crowd favourite at the Revolutions and, while today’s competition couldn’t match the pace of the Hoy-Tournant combination, it lived up to expectations again. Spiced up with the addition of bonus team points for any pair that dipped under 58 seconds and split in to two sessions of four teams, was Ian Stannard and Dean Downing of the Flyers who went off first. Their time was quickly beaten by the Rollers duo of Geraint Thomas and Belgian 6-day legend Iljo Keisse, but it was Rob Hayles and Leon van Bon of Forza who were the first to earn the time bonus and take over the event lead. Tempo’s Adam Blythe and Matt Goss closed out the session, beating Stannard and Downing’s time to slot in to third place.
In the Sprint Finals, Moreno avoided his compatriot and powered around Bisschop to book a place in the final alongside MacLean who was even more convincing in despatching Esteban.
The Boys from the Future Stars competition were up next for their Elimination race which, fortunately, passed without incident and saw Owain Doull take his second win for the Slicks ahead of Jordon Hargreaves (R
ollers) and Alistair Slater (Pacers).
The second round of the Madison Kilo saw Pete Kennaugh and Alex Dowsett of the Pacers just failed to beat Hayles and Van Bon’s best from the first round and had to settle for second place. The Forza duo’s lead survived Vitesse’s challenge – in the form of promising youngsters Guy East and Ben Swift whose time would only be good enough for 6th. The young Welsh duo of Luke Rowe and Sam Harrison, riding for the Slicks team came close, but couldn’t quite match the top two times and former Team Pursuit Olympic Gold medallist Luke Roberts and Steve Cummings posted a disappointing time to finish 5th and ensure that the points went Forza’s way.
In the Future Stars Girls’ Points Race, Hannah Barnes dominated for the Forza team, tying up the win with a sprint to go. Her team mate Harriet Owen, though, was joint second at that point with Emily Kay of Dynamo but made sure of another red one-two, beating Kay to the line and the second position. Amy Roberts took fourth to ensure that the race for the over lead between Slicks and Forza was tightly poised.
With the exception of Moreno and MacLean – the two finalists – the Elite Sprinters were back on the track for what, for many of them, is an extreme endurance event – the cruelly named Revolution Sprint Losers 6 Lap Dash. There was only ever going to be one winner, Vitesse’s Roberto Chiappa attacking with two laps to go and building a commanding lead at the end.
With 3rd to 8th places decided for the team competition, the Sprint Final between Moreno and MacLean was a classic, with MacLean demonstrating his bike handling skills, skipping the back around as he and his Spanish opponent jockeyed for position. But it was sheer power that took the Points for the Slicks team with MacLean surging past Moreno on the back straight and taking a comfortable win.
With team Forza having already demonstrated the potential of teamwork in two of the Girls events, it was the boys turn in the 6 Lap Dash – or it would have been, had it not been for an unfortunate mistake by the officials. The three Forza riders – Stephen Bradbury, Jonathan Dibben and John Paul – took the lead and controlled the race. Bradbury led for three laps with Dibben taking over for two, leaving Sprinter Paul to take the win. Or, at least, that was the plan. But the lap counter went from 5 to go to 4, then to 3, back to 4 and then to 5 again before British Cycling’s staff photographer Larry Hickmott pointed out the error to an official. By now, though, a combination of panic, confusion and anger had set in to the Forza ranks as Dibben made way for Paul who had to ride a double last stint. In the midst of all the confusion, Alex Minting of Pacers snuck through to win from a furious Paul and Rob Lambton of Dynamo.
In the Elite Points race Dynamo’s Stephen Cummings dominated, taking a lap and coming through the pack again to continued to pick up points. Alex Dowsett of Pacers was the best of the rest, with Geraint Thomas of Rollers third.
MacLean continued his excellent form and added to Slick’s points tally with a storming win in the Keirin. Chris Pritchard was second for Tempo and Roberto Chiappa was third for Vitesse.
The top three in the Scratch race was settled when Iljo Keisse, Eric Rowsell and Peter Kennaugh took a lap on the field and it was the Belgian who took the points for the Rollers with an impressive wheelie over the line to emphasise the point.
The scratch was the last event to be settled on the night, but we did see the first round of the Italian Pursuit competition which saw the Flyers take an early lead against the Dynamo team until a gap formed in their line-up and the Dynamo squad overhauled them and set the benchmark time for the next two teams to chase on December the 5th.
At the end of the evening it was the Forza team, captained by Rob Hayles that held the overall series lead and, through Hannah Barnes, the lead in the Future Stars Girls competition. Owain Doull of Slicks leads the Boys competition.
We weren’t entirely convinced that the revamped Revolution would be a success. We were sure there would be some great racing and some top class entertainment, but skeptical of whether the crowd would identify with the artificially created teams – but so far, so good. The Forza team – thanks in part to their sponsor’s pre-race distribution of flags – had the crowd behind them and that, in the end, is what will make this format a success.