After the excitement of last week’s scratch championships, it was back to normal for the eighth meet of the season. So, no podium and medals, but the usual mix of thrilling competition in all categories for competitors, award-winning refreshments for spectators and the first 2010 issue of the track newsletter for all to read, with the seaside track bathed in glorious sunshine.
Once again, Felix English was the ace in the pack, while there was also some sparkling riding from several others, notably Lee Povey, Matt Davies, Ben Miller, Elliot Tabraham-Dowers, Ashley Dennis, Brock Duncumb-Rogers and Jack Oliver-Blaney.
The 8-lap scratch was ignited on the first lap by Davies, who succeeded in forging a useful lead of around 200 metres maximum. Various bunch members helped keep the gap down, with Stuart Bettis, Charlie Booth, Matthew Earnshaw, Matthew Butt and Milo Burdeau often to the fore. After 6 laps, Davies was caught by the peloton as Drew Holmes rocketed away, with his powerful and economic riding style. Despite his fine efforts, it was a case of “Holmes under the hammer” as the accelerating pack brought him back. With a scintillating last lap English took victory, followed by Duncumb-Rogers, Oliver-Blaney, Mark Burgess, Andy Parle and Nick Smith.
English and Povey were the hot favourites for the sprint final, but it was Duncumb-Rogers who tried his luck from the start. The small lead he created early on wasn’t enough, however, and Povey attacked mercilessly with 200 metres to go. English was chasing hard and it was anyone’s guess who would take the win. In the best sprint of the night, Povey held off English’s challenge by a tyre’s-width to seal victory. Next came Burgess, Duncumb-Rogers, Dennis and Davies.
The devil-take-the-hindmost featured an interesting attack by Oliver-Blaney and Tabraham-Dowers, and for a while it looked as if they might have given the bunch the slip permanently. Peloton power came into its own, though, and they were brought back as the numbers were relentlessly reducing under the “two out per lap” system. In the end, Tabraham-Dowers took a great win, beating Oliver-Blaney, Duncumb-Rogers, Parle, Burrell and Smith to the line.
The three separate 3-lap dash races for the various senior categories always make an interesting 10-minute interlude, and tonight was no exception. English beat Povey and Duncumb-Rogers in the A-cat contest, while Charlie Burrell, Nigel Burrows and Sam Cheesman were the first three among the B1s and Mark Turner, Milo Burdeau and Matthew Butt crossed the line in that order in the B2 race.
The last race was the unknown distance event, and with a lot of daylight remaining it was likely to be a long one. Smith and Burdeau went away on lap 2, but their adventure only lasted three laps before English attacked and brought them to heel, with Holmes hot on his back wheel. The first prime was taken by Dennis, then in a surprise move chief commissaire Vern McClelland whistled for another prime on the very next lap. Duncumb-Rogers pocketed that one and English took the final payout. Miller seized his chance soon afterwards, gaining about 100 metres on the bunch and gambling on the imminent ringing of the bell. Alas for Miller, he only had about 30 metres’ lead at t
he bell, and English made a devastating last-lap burst to take the win, followed home by Miller, Duncumb-Rogers, Dennis, Burrell and Oliver-Blaney. Full results, league positions and lots more can be found on the Sussex Cycle Racing League website www.scrl.co.uk.
For his aggressive riding in the joint Under 16/Under 14 scratch race, Jackson Woodcock was the deserving winner of this week’s youth award.
Under 16 – Under 14
Under 16 Jack Priddle, who recently broke his shoulder, made an early move in the joint 4-lap scratch, but this came to nothing and Jackson Woodcock went away strongly before mid-race.
League leader Amy Smith was on great form tonight, firstly winning the 2-lap scratch ahead of Joe Hill and Nicholas Wickens. Joe beat Amy in the handicap event, where Matthew Deacon came third. Amy rounded off a successful evening with a victory in the block handicap race, where history repeated itself from the first event as Joe and Nicholas were the next two over the line.
Under 10 – Under 8
Noah Ridgway-Brown came first in the 1-lap scratch for Under 10s, beating Richard Hoyle and Stan Abbott-Stacey to the finish. Rahul Fortescue-Talwar won the Under 8 race, Sam Nicholson was second and Ben Battle came third. Noah won the closely-fought handicap race in front of Richard and Sam, then in the block handicap event it was Thomas Andrews who dominated, ahead of Sam and Rahul.