Clearly the fine weather had a dramatic effect on numbers and with all young riders as enthusiastic and determined as ever at the beginning of a Wheelers Track League. Some riders were competing in the League for their first time: James Shaw, Max Beaumont, Leo Postance, Vin Zangaro and brother and sister Ben and Annabelle Whitehouse. Anyone reading this report who would like to enter this year’s League it isn’t too late just talk to one of the coaches any Friday night.
The first race for Freewheelers B was a 50 metre Sprint with a win for Micah Johnson Hayward with Liam Spruce second, Leo Postance third and Annabelle Whitehouse fourth. The first Freewheelers A event was a 3 Lap Scratch. Ray Lovell took first in this race with Oliver Ward second, Niamh Fletcher third and James Shaw fourth. After two handicap races it was on to two Keirin events with senior Wheeler Seb Bacon acting as the derny. In the B event Niamh Fletcher quickly took the wheel with Oliver Ward and Ray Lovell closely behind her. As Seb turned off the track it was these three who hurtled towards the finishing line for the closest race of the night with Oliver Ward just nine hundredths of a second ahead of Niamh Fletcher and Ray Lovell third.
The final Freewheelers event produced even more excitement with all riders on the track split into two teams, one led by Oliver Ward and the other Ray Lovell, for an Italian Pursuit. It was clear that the Friday coaches had done a very good job training the riders as each knew exactly what to do with each doing half a lap except for Ray who had to do one full lap. Leo Postance led out Oliver’s team with Annabelle Whitehouse leading Ray’s team. As Leo and Annabelle peeled off it was Liam Spruce and Micah Johnson’s turn on the front with tension building all the time to see which team would get over their finishing line first. Then followed Vin Zangaro against James Shaw and then Max Beaumont against Ben Whitehouse. On the final lap Niamh Fletcher and Oliver took on Ray with the final half just between Oliver and Ray but it was Oliver over the line first. An excellent night of racing and if tonight’s performance is anything to go by an exciting Freewheelers League is ahead of us.
Wolverhampton Wheelers Track League Wednesday 1st May 2019
This was the first night of our track for 2019 and, as usual, anticipations were running high. Some of the riders who competed in previous years have moved on and others have returned with increased levels of both competitiveness and racing maturity. Last year’s vet trophy winner Simon Orme returns and is accompanied by fellow Brereton Wheeler Gina Willis. Gina is riding her first Wheelers League as is Mark McCann of Breakfast Club Velo. Tony Deleon makes his return to the League after an absence of a few years.
The first event of the evening was a 12 Lap Scratch with Senior A and B competing together. This produced a close finish with Zak White just ahead of his brother Jake with Will Farmer taking third. Tom White was fourth over the line and the first B rider. The Senior B Elimination saw a win for Elodie Gage with Tom White second and Tony Deleon third. Jake White took the Senior A Elimination with Giulio Cervi second and Mark McCann third. Tom White made sure of a victory in the Senior B Unknown Distance by making his break early in the race with no one able to catch him. The Senior A event was won by Zak White and the following Marymoor Crawl events provided the crowd with their usual share of amusement. Senior B rider Tom White showed considerable grit and determination in the final event of the evening; the 22 lap Handicap. The A riders were unable to catch him at the Intermediate sprint but he then went on to keep his lead and win the whole event!
In previous years one rider has quickly dominated the League with other riders being unable to challenge his position. After tonight’s racing all the indications are that this will not be the case this year with a number of riders being capable of taking that crown. This means a more interesting and entertaining League for us all.
This years event saw 17 riders take to the start covering a very wide rage of ages and abilities.
First to go were the Youth riders covering ages from under 10 to under 16, some of the smaller ones enlisting the help of a front wheel support.
One thing that they all had in common was determination! After the first round (a flying start 250M TT) less than 2 seconds covered the first three; Ben Lucas, Elodie Gage & Will Farmer.
Not far back was George Dunn, followed by Niamh Fletcher, Vincenzo, Kian Wiggan, Olly Ward, Ray Lovell and Nyla Fletcher.
It was the longer and so much harder second round over 500M from a standing start that really made the difference....
Seeded in pairs according to their first round times these 'Head to Head' races are always tough and often very close!
Ninth spot went to Nyla (Niamhs' younger sister) over Kian Wiggan reversing their positions from the opening round.
Seventh overall went to Olly Ward by 1.78 seconds, after a very close battle with Ray Lovell.
Fifth place went to Niamh Fletcher over young Vincenzo who as an under 10 comfortably won his age category.
Third spot was secured by Ben Lucas by virtue of his faster first round time and after near identical 500m times.
The top seed, Will pulled away in the closing stages to take the overall title from Elodie by just over 1 second! Well done Will.
The Seniors, Juniors and Veterans race saw all three categories represented covering a near 50 year age spread.
The opening round of a 500M flying start no less than four riders within a single second of each other,
Zak White led the standings with 20.22s followed by Seb Bacon the defending Champion, Steve White (a former winner) and new comer Mahyar Abbott.
A little further back were Giulio Cervi, Robin Kyte (multiple past Champion) and Junior Alex Hall.
As with the Youth riders it was the longer distance of 1 kilometer that made the difference!
Alex Hall unfortunately having to ride solo due to the odd numbers.
Giulio Cervi was just over a second faster than Robin Kyte who was over 10 seconds off his best and having a bad day! - maybe for the last time in this competition.
3rd place went to veteran Steve White over Mahyar Abbott. Steve clocking a personal best time.
The Final was a close run thing with Seb & Zak staying close until the final half lap when Seb stormed home to record a splendid 44.49s worthy of anything set by past Champions.
However with less than a second between then it was very close indeed, here's to next years contest!
This years Down Hill or 'Freewheel' contest attracted a good turnout with two groups leaving Aldersley in cool but sunny conditions to meet up again at the start at the top of Lilyhurst Lane near Sherrifhales. It was also good to see Terry Jones there in his van as he was on call working in the area and not able to participate himself.
Of some 25 riders at least 16 took to the start line with their left hand crank duly strapped to their chainstay.... and launched down the hill past the golf club - Fore!
Early markers were Jeremy Guy, Matt Morris (winner in 2013), Jason College, Phil Thomas & Mark Spruce who was the early leader....
Further attempts by Phil Metcalf, Ollie Baker, Colin Finch, Paul Hammond, Doug Jones, Mark Primmer, Ian Horton and Alex Berg were all surpassed by a flying Richard Sadlier - winner in 2016!
With only two more riders to go Richard looked to be on course for a second victory....
Dave Hill, who very aptly and kindly donated the annual trophy for this event was not able to surpass Richard;'s mark and still has yet to win his own award!
Last man off and defending 'Champion' Robin Kyte, enjoyed a clean run and managed to go past Richard's mark by some 3 lengths to win for a record tenth time!
The 'Post Mortem' was held in the cafe at the Lilleshall sports centre not far from the finish before returning to Wolverhampton via Church Eaton, Wheaton Aston & Brewood.
Since the D. Hill trophy was first awarded in 1991 there have been ten different winners of all ages and abilities - from teenagers to pensioners!
The first recipient was Ray Farnworth who went on to win five times over the next eight years, a feat equalled by Roy Stevens.
So next year come and have a go it is the easiest form of cycle racing - the exact opposite of the Hill Climb Champs!
This years Hill Climb Champs was run off in torrential rain that persisted throughout the day.
Many riders took the option of getting to the start by car but there were still a few hardy souls who rode out to the event including Steve White and Matt Morris!
The adverse weather obviously put a dampener on most riders ambitions with a much reduced field taking to the start line.
Just 10 riders, six from Newport C. C., three Wheelers and one Mid Shropshire Wheeler. The notable absentees were the Clarion Clubs who, in recent years, have had their annual meeting in Ironbridge on the same weekend.
The hot tea and coffee laid on by Jim & Jane Morrison of Darcy's restaurant was welcomed equally by competitors, officials and spectators on this cold and very wet morning - all proceeds going to charity.
So it was that each rider had to battle not just the incline but wind, rain and slippery leaves as well, consequently most folks times were slightly longer that previous years.
However, Alex Berg of the Wheelers was a notable exception going 4 seconds faster than last year to clock 4 minutes 11 seconds with Steve White not far behind with 4 minutes 29 seconds.
But it was Matt Morris who yet again proved to be the fastest Wheeler and for the 5th consecutive year!
Matts' time was 3 minutes 46 seconds, just 8 seconds slower than last year.
Matt & Steve rode home only for Steve to puncture at the bottom of Coalport bank, and we all know what a joy it is to mend a puncture in the rain!
But Steve wasn't finished getting wet.... his daughter was celebrating her birthday with a pool party in the afternoon!!!!
You can easily recognise Steve White he is the guy with gills and fins, able to hold his breath for 4 min 29 seconds!
Well done to all three riders and many thanks to the Newport C. C. for putting the event on.
Tonight marks the end of a whole summer of track racing at Aldersley stadium. The Wolverhampton Wheelers Track League remains one of the premier venues for track racing in the Midlands and, as in previous seasons, has seen its fair share of both drama and excitement.
Racing started with a 3 Lap Dash first for Senior B and then Senior A. The B event saw a blistering performance from Simon Orme (Brereton Wheelers) as he made his move on the last lap with the rest of the field unable to catch him. This secures a second place for Simon in the Sprinters League. He is also the best performing Vet rider. Grace Lister took second place with Zak White third. The A event saw a win for Matty Lewis with Giulio Cervi just ahead of Jake White on the line. In the 12 Lap Scratch Paul Smith briefly took the lead but at the end of the race it was the familiar pattern of Matty Lewis first, Jake White second and Grace Lister third. An extended start for the Mary Moore Crawl ensured that many key riders were out before the sprint began so it was another win for Matty Lewis with Jake White second and Seb Bacon third.
Track League organiser Mark Lewis piloted the derny for a series of three Keirin races. The A race went to Matty Lewis with Jake White second and Seb Bacon just one thousandth of a second ahead of Giulio Cervi. The B riders were split into two races the first won by Mahyar Abbott with Zak White second and Grace Lister third. The second race was taken by Will Perry with Will Farmer second and Tom White third. The 22 Lap Handicap saw the A riders catch up with the B’s with fifteen laps to go but this didn’t deter anyone making their mark including Jacob Gilkes (Lichfield City Cycling Club) and Tom White both under 14 riders working together and leading out the field, but it was A rider Giulio Cervi who made his decisive move to take the Intermediate Sprint with Zak White second and Jake White third. There was no doubt who would take the final win and following Matty Lewis was Jake White, Zak White, Oliver Baker and Grace Lister.
Grace Lister takes first place in the Senior B category with 323 points. This is Grace’s second consecutive win yet she is still only an under 14 rider. Zak White takes second place with 228 points in his first year of racing the League. Third place goes to Oliver Baker with 214 points and fourth place goes to Simon Orme with 180 points. Tom White has made good progress in his first year under 14 having ‘ridden up’ last year. He takes fifth place with 179 points. Mahyar Abbott has also made good progress having only been a Wheeler for one year and having little cycling experience before that. He takes sixth pace with 135 points. Will Farmer lies in seventh place with 119 points and Will Perry takes eighth place with 98 points. Amelia Southall takes ninth place with 91 points and Elodie Gage takes tenth place with 67 points. Under 14 riders Alex Ward, Jacob Gilkes and George Dunne take eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth places respectively. Lucy Hart (Mid Shropshire Wheelers) takes fourteenth place with Sophie White (Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.Com) fifteenth and Paul Smith sixteenth. Andy Collins (Mid Shropshire Wheelers) and Adrian Ravenscroft (Beacon RCC) share seventeenth place.
Matty Lewis has dominated the League this season and takes his third consecutive win in Senior A and is thus the overall Track League winner. His 408 points represent a substantial lead over his rivals. Jake White comes in second place with 302 points. This is Jake’s second full season racing in the League and during that time has made substantial progress. Giulio Cervi has also made significant progress especially as this is his first year in the League. He comes third with 227 points. Seb Bacon takes a very creditable fourth place with 212 points. The only other rider coming anywhere close to these four riders is Charlie Fisher (Newport Shropshire CC) with 124 points who remains a popular rider whenever he appears in the League. The Wheelers are grateful to the following riders who for various reasons were unable to complete the League: Karl Ward, Ethan Roberts (Brotherton Cycles), Gabriella Homer (Cycle Team OnForm), Paul Wright (Brotherton Cycles), Hayden Norris (Lichfield City CC), Callum Lister (Cotswold Velorijden) and George Beck (Bikestrong KTM) for their participation.
Finally two new categories have been introduced this year: the Sprinters League and the Endurance League. First place in the Sprinters League goes to Matty Lewis with Simon Orme second and Zak White third. The Endurance League winner is also Matty Lewis with Jake White second and Grace Lister third.
First race of the evening was the Keirin with Senior A rider Giulio Cervi ‘volunteering’ to be the derny. As Giulio set the pace for the B riders it was Oliver Ward who took his wheel followed by Liam Spruce. Oliver won the sprint closely followed by Niamh Fletcher. Both these riders completed the Wolverhampton Marathon 20k bike ride last weekend; Niamh with her dad Ryan and Oliver with both his parents Sally and Lee. The points difference between these two riders is very close and we will have to wait until the League finishes next week to see who wins the B Rankings. Liam Spruce was third in the B Keirin. Ray Lovell took the wheel first in the A event but it was Ethan Steinke who won the sprint with Ray second and Henry Lewis third.
The B Dash started slowly with all riders watching each other and trying to work out who would go first then Oliver Ward made his move with Niamh Fletcher once again in hot pursuit. Oliver took the win with Niamh second. Liam Spruce took third place with a very determined Micah Johnson in fourth. The A riders seemed even less willing to make their move but it was Ethan Steinke who was first to go with the others unable to catch him. Ray Lovell was second with Henry Lewis third.
The final two events were Handicap races which, due to the handicapping skills of the coaches, produced some interesting results. The B race ran over two laps and saw Micah Johnson setting off first. He held on to his position valiantly but could not avoid being passed first by Oliver Ward and then Niamh Fletcher with just half a lap to go. However he did manage to hold on to third place with Nyla Fletcher fourth, Kian Wiggan fifth and Liam Spruce sixth. The A race ran over three laps with Henry Lewis setting off first, then Ray Lovell and finally Ethan Steinke and this was exactly the order at the end of the race. Ethan has a clear points lead in the A Rankings but this didn’t stop either Henry or Ray still delivering the best race they possibly could.