Within a leap from a rainforest swinging vine at the Eden Project, we saw a very dramatic first round of the StreetVelodrome National Series, with a few unseen before situations and a completely unpredicted outcome!
The important changes of note for the 2016 series is the new location based teams (Team Cornwall, Team London, Angels of the North, Belfast Titans, Suffolk Saints and South Coast Rollers) and the team qualification format. To decide the running order of the head-to-head knock-out competition the female and male rider of each time complete a 2-lap time trial, their times are then added together and allocated a total team time. For the knock-out rounds the fastest then competes againsts the slowest, the second-fastest against the second-slowest and so on.
Team London, comprised of 2015 Champion Mad Dave Johnson and 2014 Champion Anna Glowinski, qualified with the fastest combined time. The crowd all caught their breath watching Jack Ravenscroft from South Coast Rollers lose his line coming out of the banking, jumping onto the flat below to avoid a crash and continue the wrong way round the lap! This hair raising maneuver left him with a DQ, forcing his teammate Rowena Price to also qualify in last place.
This set-back meant that they both had to race against the fastest qualifiers in their respective categories and narrowly avoided being knocked-out of the competition entirely, getting through as the fastest losers. This unlucky qualification and narrow escape gave way to sheer determination and talent as they both clawed their way onto the podium with each of them finishing in 3rd place.
It was not entirely unpredicted that the women’s winner was Jess Stone, the unrivalled 2015 champion but the preceding battles for the podium saw fierce competition. Rowena and Anna went head-to-head twice, with Anna securing both wins by a fraction and eventually losing the final to Jess. Jessica Watts, the youngest Pro rider and having ridden the StreetVelodrome for the first time that morning ruffled feathers with her rapid improvement throughout the day, getting through to the minor final and stamping her mark as one to watch through this coming season.
In the men’s racing, we saw Patrick Robinson take the win from Dave Johnson, the previous crowd favourite. Aside from 2015’s Stevenage round in which Dave knocked himself out on the ramp by trying to wall ride, this is the first time that he has ever been beaten. Patrick was an unexpected wildcard winner, after competing in the last series and grabbing one 3rd place as his best result.
The win however, wasn’t entirely satisfactory as Dave eased off on the last lap, pre-empting a DQ after he thought he had gone over the “Johnson Line*.” In the first two laps it was impossible to tell who had the lead from the naked eye, so we are expecting that there is some unfinished business to be played out over the rest of the series.
Experience came into play for Jack as he took 3rd place, despite his disastrous qualification, beating newcomer Glyn O’Brien. One thing that is clear from this first race at the Eden Project is that the status quo has been shaken and we can expect anything from the men’s podium in the forthcoming series.
The Eden Project round was the home ground for Team Cornwall and the opportunity for locals to not only have fun giving the StreetVelodrome a go but to also compete for a place in the team. Andy Bray and Charlotte Hurst won the amateur racing and we’ll be seeing them with the Pro teammates to compete at the Prudential RideLondon Super Finals, July 30th.
(c) 2016 The StreetVelodrome Company Ltd. Photographs reproduced with kind permission of Ben Foster & The Eden Project