A few weeks back, three of the TORQ Performance Track Cycling team took to the boards of the Manchester velodrome to fight for the honour of wearing the rainbow stripes at the World Masters Track Cycling Championships and didn’t they do well!
The recently refurbished velodrome, originally built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, played host to 450 competitors from 35 different countries, over eight days of fierce competition. The team did not disappoint; Maddy Moore, Louise Haston and Jan Birkmyre started 17 races between them and claimed 14 medals, 10 of which were gold.
The first competition was the Individual Pursuit over a 2km distance. The top four qualifiers race-off for the medals and sadly Maddy and Lou just missed out, whilst Jan qualified second in her age group, just 1.3 seconds off the fastest rider. With a change of gears and her husband, David track-side, she went out hard in the final and gained an early advantage that was never challenged, taking the win by more than 4 seconds.
Day two was the Team Pursuit. Louise and Maddy pulled together a scratch team which secured a creditable silver medal. In the older age group, Jan riding with Julie Scales, Lynney Biddulph and Lindsay Clarke put in a polished performance that reflected the work they had done in preparation for this event and they secured the title by some margin. Ian Scales was track-side for the team and the work he put into this result cannot be underestimated.
Next up was the Scratch Race, the first bunch race and a chance for the sprinters to pin on a number and race alongside the endurance riders. Louise has taken this title previously, but found herself poorly positioned and had to settle for silver, whilst Jan (who has previously won the elite British Scratch race) fortunately swerved the huge crash in her race and sprinted to the win. Maddy took the day off.
Day four saw more sprint action with the 500m TT and all three members of the team were present again. There were big expectations from Maddy and Louise, who did not disappoint; Maddy took the title for the 40-44 year age group with a time of 37.575 and Louise secured silver less than a second off that pace. With the world masters record holder from USA starting in Jan’s age group (55-59 years) she believed she was racing for second place, but riding in the final heat, she turned that around and managed to secure the title with a crowd pleasing 37.727.
Action continued on Day five with the Team Sprint and the opportunity for Louise, Maddy and Janet to ride together. The three-rider Team Sprint is relatively new to the competition and so the team had never ridden this discipline together in competition or training. Positions were decided based on the 500m times from the day before and some heated arguments around who was fastest! It was eventually decided that Maddy started in the gate, followed by Janet and then Louise. Despite the lack of practice, all three riders are well matched in terms of speed and they turned in an extremely slick performance to post 54.729 in qualifying, a time they improved on to secure the gold medal and title later in the day.
The final day of racing for the TORQ Performance team involved the Points Race. Louise was frustrated with her silver medals and desperately wanted an individual title to her name. Gears and tactics were decided with input from the tireless TORQ Team pit chief, David, and she truly delivered, taking the title by seven points from the next rider in her age group by picking up points in sprints two and three before winning the final sprint to take double points.
Jan dominated the 55+ age group despite the presence of previous Olympic track cyclist May Britt Valand from Norway. Jan left her win in no doubt by winning maximum points in all four sprints to take the title with 25 points, 11 points clear of silver medallist Valand. This was Jan’s sixth title of the championships, something we don’t think has ever been done before.
And that was a wrap for the 2023 championships with focus immediately turning to 2024 and the British Masters National Track Champs and the World Masters which will be held in Roubaix. We hope very much that all five members of the team will be able to compete.
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