British National Points
The Mens Points was awesome. Chris Newton of Team Persil cleaned up and although his form at the end of a long year wasn’t quite the same as when he won the 2002 Worlds he dominated the sprints and no-one was able to threaten the lead he was building up, so much so, he was the only rider assured of a medal prior to the final sprint.
The other medals were up for grabs and three riders were tied in second place. Keiran Page who found his track legs in great style, Dean Downing and Evan Oliphant. The pace was so fast in the final laps that gaps were opening up and with three laps to go, Dean Downing was at the wrong end of the field.
He never panicked though and then in the final rush to the line Keiran Page stepped on the gas and gapped the rest with Dean Downing distancing himself from Oliphant to take the bronze. The race was testament to the great endurance riders we have as it was worthy of any major Points event I have seen all year. And like the juniors in the Womens race, I must mention the ride of Ben Swift. He may only be a small young rider but he came out of the race standing 10 feet tall after getting in a group of the best who took a lap and finished 6th. Look at the names behind him and you will see Ben and others like Tom Smith have a great future if they stick with the sport.
POST RACE RIDER REACTIONS
Chris Newton: I put it to him that he made the win look easy such was his speed in the sprints and he replied by saying “I just knew that I might not have the legs for the whole 160 laps so I thought I would get the points early and try and defend it. It was ideal when that move went away because it took out all but five of the riders. After that I was just following wheels then.”
Which is being a little modest because a look through the pictures I took showed Chris was not shy to get on the front and chase down gaps and he made his own luck by being proactive and that wasn’t easy when he had a few shadows out there which is no surprise because it happens on the World stage as well so good is he at this event. “I was winning the sprints quite comfortably so it was a case of looking after myself.” I asked whether such a decisive win with such a strong field was good for the confidence after what happened at the Olympics where his silver medal in the Team Pursuit was overshadowed in media by his non finishing of the Points for which he was one of the favourites.
“I was bitterly disappointed and admit there was no excuse for that and in hindsight, yeah maybe I could have rode around so today was about saying to myself, this isn’t as easy as it looks, and I am still the best in Britain at Points riding. I never really doubted myself after the Olympics, I have a proven track record, and I spoke to people about it and it’s a case of just getting on with it.”
The Olympics is now four years away and so I asked what are his next goal is? “I would dearly love to win the Worlds again in the Points race. I want to win it so I can race with the bands on the jersey in England. There are always races to win like Beijing and if I wasn’t winning I’d stop.” Somehow after that performance, I don’t think he’ll be stopping any time soon and that can only be good for the GB team and its hopes to continue the run the country has had at leading the world on the track, something the fans of the sport should be deeply proud of. Anyone who saw that ride by Chris couldn’t help but admire his speed and ability in a very demanding event.
The silver was won by young under 23 rider Keiran Page from the Isle of Wight. Normally Keiran would be gutted with silver and I’ve been there at races to see how much he hates losing but this time, the silver was a high point after a disappointing last few weeks. He was very disappointed after the road worlds but during the Points, he was certainly one of the outstanding riders and the way he just rode away from the rest in the final sprint to ensure he got the silver was awesome. “After the road worlds I was really disappointed and down, and then all this week I have been struggling on the track. Then tonight I sat and watched Rocky 3 and from that I got gee’d up and got my head into gear.”
“I came into the race to play to my strengths which is literally, my strength I have got from the road season in France. So I had to ride to that and haven’t really had much zip until today. I still couldn’t go as quick as Chris and the other guys early on but the speed I could get I could hold longer. Luckily Kristain did a good turn with two laps to go, and from there I just had to go as hard as I could. It must have been great to watch with three guys on the same points.” It was Keiran!
The last time Keiran saw a track was Revolution 2 and he says “you can see why its taken me a couple of days to get my legs turning again” but the medal doesn’t make up for the disappointment he felt when his ride in the Pursuit that morning went wrong and he is now in the ride off for 5th place. “The pursuit is what I am supposed to be good at but I have to be realistic. I have come off a season on the road and tomorrow I am going to come in and have a good go at 5th place. Look for the catch and try and gee myself up a bit”.
Finally, Keirans ambitions now lie on the track for the Winter and hopefully a place at the track Worlds in March. After tonights performance where he really helped make the race, who knows how his next Worlds will go. Congratulations to Keiran for a great ride.
The bronze was won by Recycling.co.uk/MG X-Power rider Dean Downing who has had great form in the last few months on the road and he carried this on to the track with a super ride. I said to him that with three laps to go, I thought his chances were gone as he was seemingly in the wrong place but Dean played it cool saying “the riders I had to beat, Keiran and Evan were quite near the front, and were hitting the front a bit to early. Then Keiran got behind Kristain who blew and I was on Keiran’s wheel so that was perfect.”
I asked how hard it was and he answered, “it was very hard. At the end I went over to congratulate Chris and he goes ’how hard was that’. Chris did an amazing ride. He took every sprint to everybody and he lapped the field with us.” I then said to Deano that the strength of the field must make the medal all the more pleasing. “My best place in this was a fourth a few years ago and I was laughing about it then saying am I ever going to get a medal but today I was trying not to put to much pressure myself.”
1. Chris Newton Team Persil 58