It was a great night to go fast; the air was still and warm and the riders were ready. We had a great contingent of racers for one of the final Thursday sprint nights of the year (two more: August 25 and September 8), including a record turnout of junior riders!
We kicked off the night with a round of 200m TT’s to seed the event. Michael Hart (12.09), Eric Knackmuhs (11.95), John Bott (11.83) and Scott Whiteman (11.77) sat at the top of the list for the men. Since the evening was run round-robin style instead of championship style, this meant they would face each other in the matches a couple times. This made for some creative and risky moves coming from Hart and Knackmuhs. The most exciting match was Knachmuhs v. Hart in round three, which was a well-played game of cat and mouse that Knackmuhs was able to win from behind in the final lap.
The real stars of the show were in the junior category. We had a record turnout for the summer with a full bracket of five awesome young riders. In round one, Charlotte Kumler and Carsten Benge were evenly matched. Kumler initiated the sprint from the start, getting a large gap on Benge. But Carsten hit the gas with determination, making the catch and passing Kumler for the win. Kumler continued to keep her races exciting by jumping first and early, which earned her the win in round three. Young junior Gavin Franklin was riding with heart this evening as well. Up against Kevin Magers and Morgan Wilson in round one, Franklin sat on their wheel until they got the bell. In turn two Franklin took advantage of their effort, jumping and making the pass, and held onto it to take the win. Magers did not let him go uncontested however; in his two-up sprint against Franklin, Magers led again by obligation, picking up the pace as they were getting the bell. Franklin jumped again in turn two, creating a small gap, but Magers reacted quickly. He caught up by turn three and began to make the pass. It was an all-out drag race to the finish, side-by-side, taken by Franklin by a small margin.
We had similar match in the men’s category between Chris Chou and Chris Kirkham. Chou took the lead after a half lap and Kirkham let a small gap open up. Chou picked up speed steadily until they heard the bell, and initiated the sprint in turn one. Kirkham made the catch by turn three, pushed to make the pass, but was unable to come around and Chou took the win.
Since we had a fair number of endurance riders come out to race this evening, there was a good amount of ‘kiloing’ going on as well. Many riders jumped to the pole from the start in order to surprise and intimidate their opponent. Suzan Young matched up with Rena Smock in round one and hit the gas from the start. Smock chased with determination, but Young’s effort was unfading and she won the match. Suzan tried this tactic again in round three again Rachelle Wilson, but Wilson was able to react quickly and follow her wheel, coming around her in the final turn to take the win. Nicole Borem kept her opponents guessing with her cat and mouse tactics taking her races from the rail to the red line and everywhere in between before the sprint was initiated.
Many of the riders who attended the elite sprint clinic last weekend were out here putting to practice the things they had learned from Matt Rotherham, and their confidence and tactics showed in their racing.
See you all next week for mass start racing just before the Velodrome’s biggest event of the summer, USA Cycling’s Masters Track National Championships, begins for a week of stars-and-bars competition for riders from all over the country. Remember to sign up for a volunteer slot and make plans to bring your families and friends out to check out the event.