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Track Day

You most probably remember track cycling from the days of Chris Boardman and that ’bike’. Things have moved on from since then but it is good to know that Great Britain is still able to put up a good fight in the UCI World standings and on Saturday I got the chance to watch the action live. Fellow cycle club members Robin and Roger organised the tickets and a couple of cars to take a group of us to the Manchester velodrome for a day’s track racing. I was a velodrome virgin and had no idea what to expect, but was very surprised by the laid back environment and great atmosphere. First off I was totally gobsmacked by the track, you never really get a feel for the banking on the corners but a quick tour to the top of the corner opened my eyes, just staring down at the gradient of the corner made me realise there is a lot of skill involved in this discipline of cycling. The racing started some after we arrived with the qualifying of the mens solo sprints. The first race did not start well with a crash on the last lap, despite a torn skin suit there were no casualties. There was then a round of the woman’s solo sprint and pursuit races, one of which was Britains own Vicky Pendleton; winning of course. Then can the time of the team events, the first big stir was the Team 100% Me. This is a team set up to prove that winning can be done without the use of doping or any other means. This team being another British group really had the crowd behind them, with everyone going crazy as they knocked at least a second off the best time with each lap. After them came the turn of the Great Britain squad. Now these boys can ride. They started off with a slow first few laps but slowly wound up the pace, eventually they ended up topping Team 100% Me and putting themselves in the final with the Russian team. The big highlight of the day was Chris Hoy and his solo sprint races, during the qualifying he blitzed the opposition lining up a France/English final. Needless to say the first round of the finals was taken by the French rider; Arnaud Tournant. It was all riding on the second round which looked promising for Hoy but unfortunately the legs of Tournant took him to an extremely close finish. With the sprint finals going to the French Britain’s hope rested on the shoulders of the four man team in the Team Pursuit against the Russians. Once again the British team started off slowly with the first few laps in the Russians favor. But as usual the Brit’s wound it up, soon it was a case that the British were taking seconds of the split, soon without realising the Brits were closing in on the Russian’s. This was looking great, the way they were going they would lap the other team before the end of the race. Of course the home crowd was going mad, spectators were slamming the boards and cheering the team on. The result was a more than comfortable win for the Brits, finishing just ahead; a lap ahead. On a whole it was an outstanding day and the results were totally in favor of the home team, I did not realise just how good us Brits can be at a sport. Just a shame there is no coverage or money put back into these sports. Come on UK there is more to life than football! Many thanks to Robin and Peter for driving us all there, especially Peter for not getting us shot after cutting up over 80 Mancuian drivers!