After four epic regional rounds the pro teams have experienced scorching heat, high winds and thunderstorms as they’ve raced across cobbles, plastic track, tarmac and now the polished granite tiled surface of Canary Wharf’s Montgomery Square. And getting to this venue, for this moment, is what all their hard fought battles so far were about. But few could have predicted just how dramatic the deciding skirmish would be.
CANARY WHARF PROVIDED THE DRAMATIC SETTING FOR #SUPERFINALS17
The SuperFinals see the conclusion of the overall Team competition which is based on an Olympic style medal table. The team with the most gold medals from both the male and female categories will win the Series. If teams have the same number of golds, then the number of silvers or even bronze medals will decide the title.
But that wasn’t the only title up for grabs. The teams were also competing for two other sub-competitions, The Catch Trophy (rewarding aggressive riding) and the Most Wins Trophy (rewarding the most consistent team).
SPEED PAYS - THE MEDALS AND TROPHIES AWAITING THE WINNERS
And for the riders themselves there’s the added incentive that the gold medal winners on SuperFinals night are also crowned the individual national champions. Could both Patrick Robinson and Jess Stone defend their 2016 titles or will one of new crop of pro rider talent joining the series this year upset the established order? The scene was almost set. But not quite.
Add to the mix the qualifying amateur competitors. Their performances at the regional rounds, or by topping the time sheets in the early morning qualifying session in Canary Wharf on the day, gave them the opportunity to race alongside the pros. Riding as part of the pro teams and in front of the crowds and TV cameras too, importantly their results count as well. So with the tables in all three team competitions still wide open, it was certainly the case that a complete unknown amateur rider could help secure one team the 2017 title.
QUALIFYING - TEAM CORNWALL'S VERONIKA PUSHES TO THE TRACK LIMIT
Doing well in qualifying offers the teams an easier route to the all important medal races. It also opens up the opportunity to score much needed Catch Trophy and Most Wins Trophy points against lesser opposition. And with sights firmly on the Catch Trophy the South Coast Rollers did exactly what they had to do, they secured pole position by setting the fastest combined time in qualifying.
But only by four hundredths of a second from the resurgent Team Dublin, headed up by 2016 Pro Champ Jess Stone. Team London, with debut rider Harry Molloy, were a close third on home soil (well polished granite). Thus these three teams, SouthCoast, Team Dublin and Team London, would now have the advantage in the first round of Eliminator races.
Their opponents, respectively, would be Team Cornwall, who qualified last 3.57 seconds off the pole position time, Suffolk Saints with returnee Bryn Dickerson and Series leaders Team Wigan who qualified fourth.
FIVE TEAMS WENT INTO THE SUPERFINALS WITH A CHANCE TO WIN THE SERIES
THE MEDAL TABLE
In the overall medal table Team Wigan had three golds, Team Cornwall just one behind with two golds and then South Coast, Team London and Team Dublin all had one gold each. With three golds available to win (Male Pro, Female Pro and Amateur) any of these five teams could still lift the Series winners’ trophy. But the next few races could build or break their fortunes.
THE ELIMINATOR RACES
Race 1 & 2 South Coast versus Team Cornwall - In the Most Wins Trophy just two wins separate South Coast Rollers from leaders Team Wigan, so having pole position was going to give Craig and Rowena every opportunity to close that gap as they would line up against the slowest qualifiers Andy and Veronika of Team Cornwall.
As expected the first two Eliminator races allowed the SouthCoast pairing to do just that. Craig and Rowena both progressed to the semi finals and drew level with Team Wigan in the Most Wins Trophy.
However this early match up also placed the two top teams in the Catch Trophy against each other. During the encounter as Team Cornwall just were clearly not going to be able to score any further catches it seemed SouthCoast may have done enough to secure themselves at least one trophy already. Result!
Contrast to Team Cornwall with Andy now eliminated, even if Veronika progressed as fastest loser the team could not now win a sufficient medal tally to overhaul leaders Team Wigan. So Team Cornwall's dream of retaining their 2016 title was now over.
TEAM CORNWALL OUT OF THE RUNNING FOR SERIES TITLE
SOUTHCOAST 'VIRTUALLY' CLINCH THE CATCH TROPHY
Race 3 & 4 Team Dublin versus Suffolk Saints – A mix of results for both teams. Bryn (Saints) takes the win eliminating Csaba for Team Dublin. Meanwhile his Suffolk Saints teammate Kara is eliminated by a catch delivered by the ‘assassin’ Dublin’s Jess Stone. Her catch puts Team Dublin into 4th place in the Catch Trophy competition.
However with Csaba now eliminated Team Dublin’s faint hope of winning overall was now dashed. Suffolk Saints, the rank outsiders, had any little hope they had ruined with Kara’s early demise.
BOTH TEAM DUBLIN & SUFFOLK SAINTS OUT OF THE RUNNING FOR SERIES TITLE
Race 5 & 6 Team London versus Team Wigan – Two potential overall winners Harry (London) and Patrick (Wigan) went head to head, neither rider willing to settle for the fastest loser slot. However experience paid off with Patrick snatching the win and the final guaranteed place in the semi finals. His wins also placed Team Wigan back into the lead in the Most Wins Trophy. Meanwhile Harry’s teammate Anna scored a win against Jess Greaves (Wigan). And with Harry going through as fastest loser this meant that both teams progressed to the Semi Finals still in the fight for the overall title.
HARRY'S PRGORESS AS FASTEST LOSER KEEPS TEAM LONDON IN THE HUNT FOR THE SERIES TITLE
TENSION MOUNTS IN THE PRO RIDER PITS
THE SEMI FINALS
The main contenders had now been whittled down to just those who would contest the gold / silver medal and the chance to be crowned the national champion. The teams left in the hunt for overall victory were leaders Team Wigan followed by South Coast and Team London both two golds behind in the medal table.
PRO-MALE SEMI FINAL 1 Craig (SouthCoast) brought all his fire power and strength to home boy Harry (London) recording a narrow win. But Craig’s win, once again placed SouthCoast level with Team Wigan in the Most Wins Trophy both teams having 15 wins a piece. Harry’s relegation to the bronze medal race meant Team London were now ruled out of any chance for overall victory in the series. The Series was now just a two horse race between Team Wigan and South Coast.
THE SUN SETS ON LONDON & TEAM LONDON'S SERIES TITLE HOPES AS HARRY IS RELEGATED TO THE BRONZE MEDAL RACE
PRO-MALE SEMI FINAL 2 Bryn (Saints), who was now riding for personal glory only, was beaten by Patrick (Wigan). Patrick’s win once again placing Wigan back at the top of the Most Wins Trophy by one point to South Coast.
WAITING FOR THE KILL - PATRICK LINES UP FOR THE START OF HIS SEMI FINAL AGAINST BRYN
PRO-FEMALE SEMI FINALS 1 The pendulum of the Most Wins Trophy now swung in the other direction with Rowena (SouthCoast) beating Veronika (Cornwall) and securing herself a chance to go for gold in the SuperFinal. SouthCoast were now once again level with Team Wigan in the Most Wins Trophy.
COOL RIDER - ROWENA KEEPS HER COOL TO BEAT EURO CHAMP VERONIKA AND SECURE HER SHOWDOWN WITH JESS STONE
PRO-FEMALE SEMI FINAL 2 Jess (Team Dublin) seemingly cruised to victory over the London crowd’s favourite Anna (Team London). Jess’s win set up a repeat of the 2016 SuperFinal battle with Rowena that could also decide the overall Series title.
RIDING HIGH - DEFENDING CHAMP JESS STONE DOMINATED HER WAY TO THE GOLD MEDAL SUPERFINAL
The next few races would now determine the outcome of the entire season. The Catch Trophy had seemingly gone the way of SouthCoast Rollers, Rowena’s hard work in the earlier rounds securing an unassailable lead for the team.
However the Most Wins Trophy was very much in the balance with both Team Wigan and South Coast level pegging on 16 wins each.
In the hunt for the Overall Series Title now only Team Wigan or SouthCoast could now take the title. Team Wigan go into the SuperFinals with a two gold lead over their rivals and with Patrick in imperious form one more gold was a definite possibility.
But SouthCoast had the numbers. Gunning for gold for the Rollers would be Olympian Craig Maclean and his teammate Rowena Price. Winning two golds would place the Rollers level with Team Wigan. The inevitable silver for Patrick would place them level on silvers too. The battle could hardly be closer. Could it be that the SouthCoast Rollers would have to rely on the two bronze medal’s won earlier in the Series by Rowena in order to clinch overall Series victory? Were things going to be that desperate? Enter the Amateur riders and their own SuperFinals.
Male Amateur SuperFinal – Qualifying to race at the SuperFinals were the winners from the earlier regional rounds. At this point remaining in that competition were SouthCoast Roller’s Jordan and Team London’s Steve. Both had won their way through the semi finals, giving their respective teams valuable additional Most Wins Trophy points. Jordan’s efforts now placed SouthCoast in the lead with 17 wins. But more importantly, for them, Jordan’s place in the Amateur SuperFinals gave them a potential haul of three gold medals. Enough to win the Series.
GOLDEN HANDSHAKE - THE SOUTHCOAST ROLLERS CLOSE IN ON TEAM WIGAN THANKS TO AMATEUR CHAMPION JORDAN (BLUE)
Jordan did not disappoint. He romped to victory over his Team London rival Steve. Not only was he to became the first to be crowned champion on the night his gold medal now placed SouthCoast Rollers within just one gold of Team Wigan.
Female Amateur SuperFinal – Unfortunately not all the regional qualifiers could make the SuperFinals mid-week date so it was declared that a number of ‘wildcards’ would be allowed to qualify. The fastest of whom was young Amber Dyre. Due to not all the pro teams having amateur female representation Amber’s wildcard status meant her result would not influence the overall medal table. So the battle for the overall series title continued.
WILD CARD - AMBER DYRE WINS THE AMATEUR FEMALE CHAMPION TITLE
Male Pro SuperFinal – So it was left to the two current titans of the sport Craig Maclean and Patrick Robinson. Both had won golds this year. In qualifying they were just 0.07 seconds apart. Craig had the fire power, those piston engine thighs propelling him at top speed down the straights. Patrick had the incredible bike handling skill, meaning his top speed, though lower than his rival's, could be maintained throughout the entire lap.
Two very different athletes, two different techniques. One shared objective. To win gold.
If either rider won they would be crowned the national champion. But adding to that if Craig won gold, it would place the South Coast Rollers at the top of the table. If Patrick won the title was Team Wigan’s...for now. The stakes could not have been higher.
HEAT SEEKING MISSILE - DEFENDING CHAMP PATRICK CHASING DOWN HIS RIVAL
The race referee called the two riders to the line, the crowed were stilled by the pressure of the occasion. Some initial show boating between the riders broke the tension but the seriousness of the competition soon came into sharp focus as the race exploded into action.
Both riders were racing on the very edge, going over it at times. First Patrick exceeded the track limits and the lines-man’s flag went up into the air. Surely all Craig had to do now was not crash and the race would be his with Patrick almost certainly heading for a disqualification.
THE JOHNSON LINE BITES BACK - THE MOMENT CRAIG THREW AWAY THE 2017 TITLE
But no, the red mist had truly descended. Craig simply hadn’t seen the flag, or maybe in the speed of the attack the strategic thought process just couldn't keep up with the lightning speed his legs were pushing him. Or maybe riding within himself just isn't how Craig wants to win a title.
Continuing to give it his all and close the gap to Patrick, Craig too exceeded track limits one lap later. Now there were two red flags raised in the air to greet the riders as they crossed the finish line for the last time.
DECISION PENDING - CRAIG AWAITS THE REFEREE'S DECISION
The entire season had now come down to this moment. The referee conferred with his assistant officials. The two riders stood together awaiting the outcome. If the tension wasn’t intense before it certainly was now. Calls for a re-match were being chanted by the crowd as the wait continued for a decision.
Finally the Referee’s decision was made. If a rider infringed the Johnson Line it should result in disqualification. However as both riders were equally as guilty, the Referee declared, the result according to the timing would stand.
Even that was too close to judge by eye. So after the timing official confirmed the times the final race victory, the gold medal, the pro male champion and the overall series title for their team went to...Patrick Robinson.
What theatre! Patrick’s gold medal now gave Team Wigan an unreachable two gold medal lead with just one race left to go.
CELEBRATION TIME - PATRICK GETS GOLD AND SECURES THE SERIES TITLE FOR TEAM WIGAN
Female Pro Final – After the high drama of the Male Pro Final the arena had to settle back down for the deciding race of the Female pro category. SouthCoast couldn't win the team title, but Rowena could seal that first gold of her pro career and the Pro Female Champion title. All that stood in her way was Team Dublin’s Jess Stone, the most successful StreetVelodrome rider of all time.
FINAL SHOW DOWN - JESS STONE V ROWENA PRICE
Over the first two laps it was a very close race with neither rider wishing to lose their chances of overall victory by riding over the now dreaded Johnson Line. In a controlled show of speed Jess Stone’s impressive run of victories since June 2015 continued as she crossed the line to win her third title and Team Dublin’s second gold of the season. Rowena was left to congratulate the worthy victor.
CHAMPION - JESS STONE RETAINS HER TITLE
THE CHALLENGER - ROWENA PRICE SECURES HER 'BEST OF THE REST' TITLE
After five rounds, 330 flat out competitive laps and countless moments of drama the 2017 Viking StreetVelodrome Series comes to a close. The Champions are decided and the glory is there for the basking. Its been an incredible Series with new teams, venues and pros all playing their part. The challenges of the pop up track are matched only by the challenge of the rivals, the pro riders of the 2017 season have created a lasting legacy of spectacular high speed cycle sport which has been watched and enjoyed by thousands.
We can’t wait for next year. See you there.
Male Pro Rider
Gold – Patrick Robinson (Team Wigan)
Silver – Craig Maclean (SouthCoast Rollers)
Bronze – Harry Molloy (Team London)
PRO FEMALE PODIUM WITH BBC SPORTS PRESENTER JILL DOUGLAS
Female Pro Rider
Gold – Jess Stone (Team Dublin)
Silver – Rowena Price (South Coast Rollers)
Bronze – Veronika Widmann (Team Cornwall)
Male Pro Champion 2017 – Patrick Robinson
Female Pro Champion 2017 – Jess Stone
Male Amateur Champion 2017 – Jordan Tester
Female Amateur Champion 2017 – Amber Dyre
Most Wins Trophy
1st South Coast Rollers 18 Wins
2nd Team Wigan 17 wins
3rd Team London 13 wins
4th Team Cornwall 10 wins
5th Team Dublin 8 wins
6th Suffolk Saints 7 wins
SOUTHCOAST ROLLERS COLLECT BOTH THE CATCH TROPHY AND MOST WINS TROPHY FROM SHANAZE READE
1st South Coast Rollers 4 Catches
2nd Team Cornwall 3 Catches
3rd Team London 1 Catch
3rd Suffolk Saints 1 Catch
3rd Team Dublin 1 Catch
6th Team Wigan 0 Catches
2017 SERIES CHAMPIONS - TEAM WIGAN COLLECT THE BIG ONE
Overall Medal Table
1st Team Wigan 4 Gold 2 Silver 0 Bronze
2nd SouthCoast Rollers 2 Gold 5 Silvers 2 Bronze
3rd Team Cornwall 2 Gold 1 Silver 2 Bronze
4th Team Dublin 2 Gold 0 Silver 2 Bronze
5th Team London 1 Gold 2 Silver 2 Bronze
6th Suffolk Saints 0 Gold 0 Silver 3 Bronze