The final round of the National Series took place at Palmer Park, with some great racing all across the five disciplines that make up an omnium.
It feels like it has been a very short series this year and that is because it has.
I chose to sit out Round 1 of the Nationals in Dundee & favoured the shorter drive & the prospect of some longer races offered by a meeting in Reading over the same weekend. Then, unexpectedly the rounds planned for Edinburgh and Halesowen were cancelled, which effectively left just four Rounds to race.
To me it seems a great shame that there are so few opportunities to race earlier in the season, as these races can see some great racing from the women & can have fields of up to 30 riders contesting. Such is life?
To be fair to Reading, they hosted a glorious end to the series & whilst Hurricane Bertha closed in on the south of England, we were bathed in sunshine. Indeed, despite it being a little windy at times, there were no suggestions of rain delays. Despite the field being the smallest of the season, the ladies raced like they meant business from the 500m TT, all the way through the points, sprint and pursuit to the scratch race at the end. Whether it was due to the shorter season I am not sure, but it was interesting to see that the dynamics of the racing that day had altered. In previous races, some of the top placed riders have sometimes “allowed” riders who have accumulated a large number of points (and who therefore do not threaten the podium places), to slip off the front of the scratch race. The result generally causes great excitement amongst the less informed onlookers, who don’t fully understand the dynamics of omnium racing, but there was no hint of this at Reading. It was certainly one of the most spirited scratch races I have ever had the pleasure to race – there were lots of attacks and the field split a number of times, but nothing was allowed to stick, which provided an impressive bunch sprint to decide the final placings.
Ellie Coster finished the day as she had started, with a win and I had to settle for second place again. In the final count, she was 7 points clear of me and I was 8 points clear of ODP’s rider Hannah Blount who was third. The points from third onwards were very close, with the final positions decided during the final event of the day and it was a fitting way to bring the curtain down on another National Series.
Ever since I started racing this series in 2005, it has been the corner stone of my preparation for the big “end of season goals.” Racing five disciplines in one day against feisty riders, including the ODP sponsored girls (who are keen to hold onto their funding), toughens me up both mentally and physically. The 2014 series has been one of the hardest for me and I hope that it pays dividends in a couple of months time.
Like me, Ellie Coster had chosen not to endure the long drive north to Dundee, yet she still managed to completely dominated the series this season & won every round she entered. I believe Ellie has indeed remained unbeaten in every 500m TT, sprint and possibly scratch race she has entered. Ellie is now on a mission to prove herself on the international scene and will ride the upcoming UCI World Cup series, as she continues to morph from the pure sprinter of last year to a more endurance based omnium and team pursuit rider. I believe that Ellie’s eyes are focussing on the biggest stage that track cycling can offer – the World Championships and Olympics.
For now, I will turn my attention to preparing for the World Masters, where I have the luxury of racing only one event each day… for seven days! That makes precious little different to my Support, who has less to do for me each day, but has become the “go-to man” at the championships for any technical issues. Therefore regardless of nationality, people flock to our pit area for assistance and I will have to fight for attention!
TORQ nutrition has always been my choice for fuel and recovery. Lake cycling shoes are the no compromises choice for my feet, while my super light Limar helmet and glasses do more than they promise on the tin. CeramicSpeed bearings, (also the choice of Pro squads Omega Pharma/Saxo Tinkov and Astana), are installed in all my wheels and bottom brackets, which offer a little bit of “free speed.” This year, Helly Hansen have also kindly provided me with some incredible base layers, sports bras and pre/post race wear. All of which help to keep me as comfortable as one could hope to be when the heat is really on!
I am certainly looking forward to my forthcoming World Masters Championships & am convinced that this season’s short but sharp racing will have helped to pave the way to my success.