Herne Hill Track Meeting

By Larry Hickmott

Take half a dozen international roadman who are also pretty adept on the track, add another load of track stars including World Champions from the Great Britain team, mix that with the best weather that this country can muster up and you have a recipe for a huge crowd to turn out and make a race meeting suddenly become an historic event. And that was how Good Friday was with some truly spectacular racing.

There was so much going on, it's hard to remember it all and I am sure everyone who attended (the track was three of four deep right the way around plus the crowds in the stands) will go away with different memories that will last for a long time to come. The day started as the riders in the White Hope sprint warmed up the crowd with their qualifying runs with Ben Elliot (VS St Raphael/Waite Contracts) fastest. The pace got hotter as the riders in the Classic Walls Sprint did their qualifying runs with Mark French, Junior World Sprint champion last year, finishing a couple of tenths ahead of Ross Edgar and a very disappointed Jamie Staff who admitted afterwards to being very tired after doing a lot of travelling this year. Jamie (pictured below right) has just returned from Cape Town where he won a Gold medal (Team Sprint).

And how about Great Britain's Chris Newton. He went away from the race meeting having not won anything but man did he try in any event he contested! Also replendent is his World Champions jersey, he got away in an early break in the Golden Wheel along with O'Grady, Huw Pritchard, Kristain House, an American and Dutchman.This break was to stay out front for most of the race. Then, after the race came back together, he cheekily attacked the field with a handful of laps to go in the only to be swamped in the final bend and for an Aussie champion, Stuart O'Grady to take the winners cheque denying Tony Gibb who wanted it sooooo much!.

A rider who has won stages in the Tour de France, worn the famous Yellow Jersey and as well the Green one, and also won medals on the Track, Stuart O'Grady spoils Tony Gibb's Party as O'Grady wins the Golden Wheel Click for a larger image.

Immediately after the race when I asked Stuart for a word to sum the race up, it was simply "awesome". It was O'Grady's second win of the day, after taking all in the Derny race as well, another nail biting event where the pace at the end was wound up and up and up until only the best were left sprinting for the line. Phew!!!

And if Gibby was dissapointed not to have won the Golden Wheel event, he at last had the consolation of winning the Points event where Wiggins crossed the line first but Gibby's point scoring during an attacking race saw him the victor.

It was Tony's second win of the day after he held off Newton to win the IMPSPORT clothing 'Super Elimination Race' as both Newton and Gibb went to the line elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder with little between them. Top stuff!

IMPSPORT Super Elimination Race
1. Tony Gibb PCA/Orbea
2. Chris Newton Great Britain
3. Dominic Hill Bec CC

Golden Wheel Scratch Race
1. Stuart O'Grady Credit Agricole
2. Tony Gibb PCA/Orbea
3. Huw Pritchard Condor/Anglia Sport