Well, the Viking StreetVelodrome pro series 2017 has finally kicked off, with cobbled Smithfield Square, Dublin as the ampitheatre.
TEAM WIGAN'S SOPHIE BAGNALL SETS HER TIME IN THE PRO TEAM QUALIFYING SESSION
This new venue welcomed professional riders from across the UK, both old and new and Team Dublin were representative of this, with familiar face Nathan McCombe and unknown wild card MTBer Michelle Muldoon donning the lush, new green kit.
TEAM DUBLIN AS THE HOME TEAM GOT EXTRA MEDIA ATTENTION
The start of any season is a blank canvas and nerves were electric amongst the Pro riders backstage. Jess Stone, the undefeated woman from 2016 was not in attendance, thus leaving Jesscia Watts, Anna Glowinski and Rowena Price all paying close attention to the qualifiying times - a gold medal felt attainable by each. In the men’s competition, 2016 champ Patrick Robinson was seen stretching and warming up, whilst his usual nemesis Dave Johnson cracked jokes and appeared non-plussed. It is fair to say that both felt confident, with little more than a sideways glance at the new competitors.
Team qualifications time trails threw in no surprises, with Robinson (Team Wigan) cruising to a one-second lead over competitor Johnson (Team London). McCombe and John Stockwell (Suffolk Saints) were showing faster form than last season and newcomer Jack (South Coast Rollers) showing great promise but lack of experience to place amongst the seasoned Pro’s.
HOME FAVOURITE NATHAN MCCOMBE SHOWS THE BATTLE SCARS FROM HIS SEMI FINAL IN THE WET
TEAM WIGAN DEBUTANT SOPHIE BAGNALL WAS AS SURPRISED AS EVERYONE ELSE WHEN SHE MADE THE GOLD MEDAL FINAL
Less than half a second separated the top three women - Price, Watts and Glowinski, with Muldoon and also newcomer Sophie Bagnall (Team Wigan) fighting hard to get to grips with the track. Also newcomer BMXer Kara Gaetz-Bruce placed a credible time despite racing with a currently broken leg - with this level of determination we expect to see great things from her this coming season.
So it was over to the head to head racing, and it would not be Ireland if there was not a timely downpour (the emerald isle doesn't stay so green without it!) but our heroic riders could not be stopped. They were here to race, come rain or shine, they were going to put on a show for the equally hardy spectators and their umbrellas!
The new Viking single-speed bikes, with higher gearing, a Hill start and cobbled flats, there was a sense that with so many changes, anything could happen. This was less true in the men’s racing, with Team Dublin’s McCombe making it into the semi-finals with the crowds clearly favouring their home-boy. But the finals were once again dominated by Robinson and Mad Dave Johnson, with everyone unable to call who would win in the end. With a winter of racing international Urban Downhill and intense training, Patrick proved that all the hard work is paying off in all aspects of his riding, taking home a comfortable gold medal for Team Wigan.
GOLDEN BOY - PATRICK ROBINSON CLINCHES THE FIRST GOLD MEDAL OF THE 2017 SEASON
The story, however, was all in the women's racing. Never before at StreetVelodrome have we seen such an unexpected and mixed bag of racing. Glowinski (Team London), a usual finalist, was not showing form and scraped through to the minor finals as fastest loser. Watts (Team Cornwall) was clear favourite, showing an unprecedented smoothness through the banking, but was knocked out with a catch by Price (South Coast Rollers) when the heavy rain (a big phobia for Watts) caused her to crash on the very first corner...hilarious snapshots followed! As Price entered the finals against a surprised Bagnell (Team Wigan) the consensus was that Bagnell had done extremely well, but we could pretty much hand the medal over to experienced Price. You can imagine the gasps as halfway through the race it looked like Bagnell was edging ahead… “She might actually do it!” we said. And indeed, to the loud cheers of her Team Dublin friend Muldoon, Bagnell picked up first place in Round one of the Viking StreetVelodrome pro series!
NEW SEASON NEW LOOK - TEAM WIGAN CLAIM A DOUBLE GOLD IN DUBLIN WITH SOPHIE BAGNALL CLAIMING HER MAIDEN WIN
“I normally race the Enduro World Series with Michelle (Muldoon, Team Dublin) and she asked me to give this a go, I thought, why not? Michelle usually beats me at Enduro, and I didn't expect to win here at all! I have three Kids and would love to race StreetVelodrome for the whole season, but I cannot travel as much as the others.”
Well, for a mum of three to come along and simply give it a go, to end up winning gold, it really shows that StreetVelodrome is a unique skill and we just never can tell who is going to excel at it. We love the fact that local riders from all disciplines came and shook up the status quo in Dublin, giving us a taste that this is going to be one hell of an exciting season!
And excitement is what the Viking StreetVelodrome is all about. Next round: Wigan StreetVelodrome 25th June at Leigh Town Hall.
Gold Patrick Robinson - Team Wigan
Silver Dave Johnson - Team London
Bronze Nathan McCombe - Team Dublin
Gold Sophie Bagnall - Team Wigan
Silver Rowena Price - South Coast Rollers
Bronze Jessica Watts - Team Cornwall
POS / Team / Golds / Silvers / Bronze
1st Team Wigan 2 0 0
2nd Team London 0 1 0
2nd South Coast 0 1 0
4th Team Dublin 0 0 1
5th Team Cornwall 0 0 1
6th Suffolk Saints 0 0 0
Most Wins Trophy
POS / Team / Wins
1st Team Wigan 6
2nd Team London 2
2nd South Coast 2
2nd Team Dublin 2
2nd Team Cornwall 2
6th Suffolk Saints 0
Most Catches Trophy
POS / Team / Catches
1st Team London 1
1st South Coast Rollers 1
3rd Team Wigan 0
3rd Team Dublin 0
3rd Team Cornwall 0
3rd Suffolk Saints 0