On Saturday I raced at Derby Arena in the Youth A Support races for the Women’s and Men’s National Omnium finals. It was an amazing opportunity to race in Thanet RC colours in front of a sell-out Derby Arena crowd and our races (as well as the men’s and women’s) were even live streamed on You Tube!

We travelled up Friday night, mum and I and stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn down the road. I have ridden at Derby Velodrome before when I helped mum coach Madison to the LVRC riders with Dad last year so the track being on the second floor wasn’t new to me but after signing on at 8:30am, gear checking and then warming up it was clear that today’s racing would be a little different to usual youth races. I shared my warm up pen with Alistair Rutherford in the next pen was Harvey McNaughton, 3 pens down was Tom Rotherham (with Matt Rotherham as his trackside aide) and as I warmed up Laura Kenny CBE walked past me pushing her baby Albert in a buggy to warm up at the end of the row.

I was in Youth A group 1 certainly a tough group with Joshua Giddings (The MI Racing Academy), Thomas Lord (Eastlands Velo), Robert Donaldson (Mossley CRT) and Adam Mitchell (Sportcity Velo) being among the fastest riders in our group. I was pleased (thanks to my Dad) to be able to ride a Corima disc and Planet X 80mm deep section front which certainly didn’t look out of place amongst the riders in my races or the adult races! We got a track warm up with 40+ riders allowed on track to warm up. My events were a 20 lap Scratch, 25 lap Tempo race, Elimination race and 40 lap points race spread throughout the day from when racing started at 11am until my last race of the day which started at 6:20pm so managing my food, drinking and warming up sufficiently for races was a challenge.

First race was the scratch and our average speed (on a restricted gear of 49 x 15 (6.93m or 88ins)) was 31.6mph I was pleased to finish in the bunch in 17th. The Tempo race was my first experience of riding this race format basically it’s 25 laps for us (5 are neutralised where the pack ride together) then the first rider across the line each lap gets a point and a group of riders rode off the front including Tom, Robert, Jack, Tom Pughe-Morgan and Joshua and they drove the group hard, hoovering the first across the line points and by the end of the race they had lapped over 11 riders including me. I finished 16th in my first Tempo race.

Each race start was gridded so if you are further down the standings you start further down the track either lined up on the top rail or with a holder on the black line. In the Elimination being towards the back isn’t a great place to start but my goal for the race was to ensure I wasn’t first out and despite getting pretty tired by this point after taking part in some really hard racing I dug deep and stayed in for 4 eliminations, disappointing but hoped an early exit might help in the points, it did mean I’d cooled down on the rollers ahead of the ladies Elimination race in order to watch Laura Kenny CBE compete in the race, the noise of the crowd was amazing just like at six-day. I really enjoyed watching her ride and her move through a gap “to get out of the box” in that race was just a master class! Mum and I were cheering from track centre!

Points race was the last event of the day and I knew riders would be gunning to try and string it out to either prevent riders gaining a lap or attacking to gain a lap or sprint points. I know some of you even watched this one on You tube Live stream (Dad was and screaming at the screen so Leo told me!) I almost went on the break with Emile Alexander (Lichfield CC) but knew Tom Lord was on my wheel and if he came with us we’d get caught so I swung up and then regretted maybe not digging deep to get away as Emile (thanks to the crowd supporting him) managed to get 10 points in 2 sprints and jump himself up the standings in the final race. I managed to ensure I finished with the second group thankfully not getting lapped.

Overall I think I finished about 19th which I was disappointed with but the experience of riding at such an amazing event in such an atmosphere is something I am really glad I have been lucky enough to participate in and hope that maybe I can do it again next year. I am a first year U16 so many of the riders are already 15 even 16 and so racing this year is about learning from each race and my positives from yesterday are having experienced the atmosphere and experienced a Tempo race and learnt a bit more about tactics of racing omnium events.

Next Saturday is the 2nd Icebreaker race over in Newport and all these are gearing up towards the National Omnium races which I am hoping to ride in April/May.

Thanks to Mum for all her support at these events and mainly for being my taxi service to get me there! I really couldn’t do these races without the support of all my family! Thanks ?

Report by Lance Childs

Posted by Andy Mccall

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