Ahead of this week’s SuperFinals17 in Canary Wharf on 10th August we’re looking at each of the Pro Teams, as we try to predict who will win the 2017 title.
TEAM DUBLIN & SOUTHCOAST ROLLERS ARE BOTH IN THE CHASE FOR THE TITLE
SUFFOLK SAINTS: RANK 6TH
Its been a challenging year so far for the Saints. With just three bronze medals they find themselves at the bottom of the overall medal table as they roll into Canary Wharf but that does not tell the entire story.
KARA CELEBRATES HER FIRST RACE WIN AT ROUND 4 NEWMARKET
The team scored their first pro medal in Round 2 Wigan with New Zealander Bryn Dickerson storming to victory, beating Olympian Craig Maclean on his way. StreetVelodrome’s ‘almost guy’ John Stockwell managed to drop that tag by winning bronze medal races in Rounds 3 Worthing and 4 in Newmarket. These were key results for the rider who has missed out so many times by just fractions of a second.
In the female category Canada’s Kara Bruce has struggled since breaking her ankle in a pre-season BMX event. This has hindered her starts, but as the physio begins to pay off her race results have improved with her first race win coming in Round 4 Newmarket. Has the gap between Newmarket and the SuperFinals given her the chance to gain even more strength?
Saints do at least retain a theoretical chance of winning the Series outright thanks to StreetVelodrome’s unique concept of including amateur rider category results in the overall results.
JOHN STOCKWELL POWERS THROUGH THE BANKING IN QUALIFYING ROUND 4
At each regional round amateurs get the chance to qualify to race. If they win their way to the SuperFinals they get to represent one of the pro teams, meaning every race win, catch or medal they score will go towards their adopted team’s final results.
On that basis, being just three golds behind the overall leaders and there being four golds available, the will start the SuperFinals as the ‘outsiders’ for the title.
TEAM DUBLIN: RANK 5TH
One of two new teams for 2017, Team Dublin had the dubious honour of being the ‘home team’ for round 1. That pressure didn’t prevent them from scoring a much deserved bronze medal on the unforgiving cobbles of Smithfield Square in the heart of the Irish capital. However they failed to build on that promising start and were found rooted to the bottom of the table as the team’s arrived in Newmarket for Round 4.
JESS STONE IS THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION ON HER RETURN IN ROUND 4
Enter 2016 pro female champion Jess Stone. Jess came back to StreetVelodrome with a bang riding for the beleaguered Team Dublin she secured yet another gold medal for her collection and in doing so lifted the team up to 5th overall. But more importantly placed them right back into contention for the SuperFinals.
The ‘green machine’ are just two golds behind the leaders. Now they’ve secured Jess for the SueprFinals, virtually guaranteeing at least one more gold in the bank, all they need to do is ensure their male Pro Hungarian Csaba gets a medal result along with their qualifying amateurs.
Either way Jess will be going into the SuperFinals as favourite to win the Female Pro title for herself, giving her the triple (2015, 2016 and 2017). That is unless newcomer, European and twice Italian national champion Veronika Widmann (riding for Team Cornwall) can deny Jess her crowning glory.
TEAM LONDON: RANK 4TH
Its been a roller coaster season for the home team, Team London. With a compliment of gold, silver and bronze medals in the bag by round 2 their consistency across both the male and female categories seemed to be paying off. However a sudden drop in form caused by injury and simply being out gunned by the rising teams of South Coast Rollers and Team Cornwall, left Team London fighting in the midfield during qualifying.
TEAM LONDON'S ANNA GLOWINSKI KEEN TO PUT ON A GREAT SHOW ON HOME TURF
Poor performance in qualifying causes team riders to become vulnerable to elimination during the aptly named Elimination races. One time pro female champion (2014) Anna Glowinski had to battle harder than ever merely to make the semi finals on occasion this year.
But its certainly not all over yet for the Capital’s own team. Entering the foray for the first time will be national downhill mountain bike champion Harry Molloy. His bike control and speed could cause one of the biggest upsets of the Series so far. Winning gold will place the team right on the heels of leaders Team Wigan.
Add in the amateur rider factor and there could be a magical home team victory amid the city scape of Canary Wharf’s impressive skyline.
SOUTHCOAST ROLLERS: RANK 3RD
The team started 2017 with high hopes of leading the Series and with good reason. Boosting their ranks was double commonwealth games gold medallist Craig Maclean MBE as well as 2015 amateur female champion turned pro Rowena Price. Both were predicted to be more than cable of winning gold in 2017 and presenting a real challenge to the rest of the field.
SOUTHCOAST ROLLER OLYMPIAN CRAIG MACLEAN IS ON THE HUNT FOR GOLD
However StreetVelodrome is not known for being predictable. Rowena missed out on gold more than most this season, even failing to make the gold medal race at her home event in Worthing. She has however remained one of the Series most aggressive riders, scoring more ‘Catches’ then any other rider. Thanks to her the team lead the Catch Trophy. But only by 1 point from Team Cornwall.
Craig, with his awesome fire power, managed to out gun leading pro male Patrick Robinson in Round 4 giving the Rollers their first ever pro Gold medal and, finally, placing them right back into contention to win overall on Superfinals night.
The Team’s impressive tally of three Silver medals would put them in the pound seats if they were tied with another team on Gold medal count alone. So from a staggered start they find themselves as key challengers to win both the Catch Trophy and the overall title.
TEAM CORNWALL: RANK 2ND
Last year’s champions Team Cornwall were not supposed to be at the sharp end by this time in the season after losing their key gold medal machine Jess Stone during the off season.
However, her replacement Jessica Watts hadn’t read the script and duly went on to win two gold medals on the bounce in Wigan and Worthing. Her smooth style meant, over three laps, she was able to claw back time lost to the more powerful riders at the race start.
EUROPEAN CHAMPION VERONIKA WIDMANN COULD BE A THREAT TO JESS STONE
She was disappointed to have been beaten by returnee Jess Stone at Round 4 after ruling the roost whilst whilst the 2016 pro champ was away. But looking back if she had not slipped in the wet conditions in Round 1 Dublin, then Team Cornwall would certainly be in a medal table leading position by now.
The team are focused on retaining their title and are calling upon European and twice Italian national champion Veronika Widmann to cause an upset on SuperFinals night. Supporting her will be 2016 amateur rider finalist Andy Bray. His job will be to ensure a blistering pace in Pro Qualifying keeps the team high up in the seedings ahead of the Elimination races, giving Veronika the best chance to get to the all important Gold medal final.
With the female pro gold medal race scheduled to be the last race of the 2017 it could all come down to those final three laps to decide which team wins the title.
TEAM WIGAN: RANK 1ST
The other new team for 2017, Team Wigan, started the season off with clear intentions signing the current male pro champion Patrick Robinson. The move did not disappoint with gold in Round 1 Dublin. But what many weren’t expected was for his debutant teammate Sophie Bagnall to also win gold (the first double gold win in the Series since the Superfinals 2014).
This amazing start instantly placed the team in a seemingly unassailable lead.
But a difficult home leg saw Patrick lose out to Team London’s Dave Johnson. He responded with another gold medal performance in Round 3 Worthing against Craig Maclean. But Craig got his revenge by beating Patrick into silver at Round 4 Newmarket.
DEFENDING PRO MALE CHAMP WILL BE LOOKING TO RETAIN HIS TITLE
Since Sophie’s one off appearance in the series the team have struggled with consistency in the female category. This meant Patrick has found himself languishing in the bottom half of the field after Pro Qualifying, impacting the Team’s ability to score Catch Trophy points.
However that clearly is not their focus with all eyes on the bigger prize of the outright series champions title. With a one gold lead going into the SuperFinals they start as favourites. But as recent results have shown Patrick is beatable. And with newcomer Harry Molloy (Team London) expecting to do well, Patricks place on the podium anything but assured.
Watch the action as it unfolds live and for free at Montgomery Square, Canary Wharf 10th August. Pro Qualifying 2pm. Racing 6pm.