Well, what an incredibly exciting Round 2 of our National Series at Fassnidge Park in Hillingdon! The results have jumped around once again and it shows that the season is still all to play for.
Boris Johnson officially opened the weekend before trying the track out himself. He called StreetVelodrome the “Absolute best, most inspiring thing for cycling in the whole of London” ...and after Round 2’s success of getting 100's of families, children, amateurs and Pro’s racing on bikes, we of course agree!
London girl, Emma ConeyBeare from Capital Xtra was on the mic as our guest commentator, giving this round an 'Xtra' special air of celebrity.
The StreetVelodrome was placed in centre stage in Fassnidge Park on the lush, green grass, which meant that whilst riders were treated to a quiet and blissful retreat in urban London, the track itself was “slow.” The plastic track placed down between the bankings was speed sapping - it looked as though the conditions were going to favour the stronger riders over the more technical riders.
In Qualifying Team London were out on top with Team Cornwall in 2nd followed by South Coast Rollers, Angels of the North, Belfast Titans and Suffolk Saints.
Everything changed dramatically when a sunny day in the park suddenly turned into a torrential downpour, leaving the track very slippery for the opening races.
Anxiety took hold in the Pro / Am riders camp and racing became a test of nerve, skill and sheer luck. In the first race of the Pro Women heats, Jess Stone was up against Helen MacGregor. Helen was one of the few riders still confidently attacking the corners in the wet. But the cheers of the crowd fell to gasps as she held her speed to go above the Johnson line and hit the wall hard. She nearly held it, then crashed leading to a DNF and a 'Catch' for Jess Stone.
The sketchy conditions really took hold of Jessica Watts, who has been coming on leaps and bounds since her debut in Round 1. The fear of crashing caused her to ride uncharacteristically cautiously, resulting in a catch from Rowena the first for her team the South Coast Rollers.
Tanya Griffiths and Anna were last racers in the heats and the track was considerably drier, leading to a fast and controlled race. Anna caught Tanya taking a catch point for Team London and knocking Suffolk Saints out fo the women’s competition.
Luckily for Jessica, her combined Team Qualy time was enough to see her through to the next round as fastest loser and with the track drying out by the minute, she was to see herself with a second chance to fight for a podium place.
There was plenty of blood and gore in the men’s racing, with a mechanical causing last Round’s winner, Patrick Robinson, to crash straight off the line and gorily cut open an old scar. But he took the opportunity to re-start and a close race, initially led by Jack Ravenscroft, was won by Patrick.
Mad Dave sailed through to the semi's passing up a clear opportunity to score a catch instead choosing to save his energy. With the Catch Trophy decided by the closest of margins each year, such tactics need to be carefully weighed up.
Injury affected the semi-finals, but in the least expected way. Jack Ravenscroft, having got through to the semis as the fastest loser, needed stitches in his thumb after after cutting himself whilst peeling an avocado! He was out of the racing for the rest of the day. Combined with his unfortunate DNF at Eden Project it has had a devastating start for the South Coast Rollers, as both Rowena and Jack are consistent podium material. His place in the semis was taken with the next fastest rider John Stockwell.
In the Men’s minor final, the brand new Belfast Titans rider Nathan McComb who was shockingly fast for a first timer, faced John of Suffolk Saints. Nathan took the win, denying Suffolk Saints their first podium and proving himself as a future threat to the top two riders.
The Women’s final was the increasingly standard Anna versus Jess and although a catch escaped her, Jess took a clear and deserved win!
The race of the day was between Mad Dave and Patrick, as Patrick had beaten Dave in an unexpected win in Round 1. Psychology and fatigue gave Dave the upper hand and to the cheers of local Londoners he took home gold for Team London.
The podium medals were presented by local Olympian, 92 year old Don McKellow. Don competed for Team GB in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics riding the velodrome. “Its all new to me, but very exciting” he commented about the racing he'd witnessed.
TeamLondon were also delighted to welcome Mark Bryant and Hannah Jackson, the fastest male and female amateurs of the day. The four Team London riders will be competing at the Prudential RideLondon SuperFinals on July 30th.
All in all it was a great day for racers and locals, who all got to experience fast action sport and have some fun in a beautiful and tucked away green corner of London - Fassnidge Park. Catch all the Pro race results here.
Some quotes from the weekend:
“Everyone was amazing! The way you coached and helped the kids was fantastic. So encouraging and kind. Thank you again” @out_of_synch via Twitter
“I am still living the dream” 2015 Amateur rider turned 2016 Pro, Rowena Price
“I will settle with second BUT ONLY THIS WEEK” @Patrickrobins0n Pro Rider via Twitter