I raced my first National Omnium at the Herne Hill Velodrome this Saturday.
Usually I race with the ‘B’ men at the track, so I was looking forward to doing some women’s track racing, even though the pre-entry list was pretty scary.
There were five events: a 500m TT, a scratch race, 2km (4 lap) TT, sprint and a points race.
The 500m TT is from a standing start so you just try to get up to speed as quickly as possible and keep spinning those feet as fast as you can until you cross the line. It hurt like hell! I did it in 41.11, good enough for 3rd place. I really want to get this time under 40sec.
I knew I had to finish well in the scratch race if I wanted to do well in the overall standings. The race started off very slowly with no one wanting to push the pace into the strong headwind. Finally Cheryl Owens of AW Cycles went and I jumped on her wheel … no one else followed. We managed to work together to get a half lap advantage on the rest of the field. Eventually two other riders bridged the gap, one being Jayne Paine, who came across strong. I hesitated a little too much and lost her wheel, but rode the rest on my own with a massive gap behind to get 2nd place.
The 2km TT was up next. I’ve very little practice at this (once at the London Track Champs last year)…which showed. I rode the first km too hard and suffered for the final km. I’m not sure this event is really my cup of tea…but there is definitely lots of room for improvement. I finished in 2min 42sec, 4th fastest.
At this stage in the Omnium, my best hope was for 2nd place. Janet Birkmyre, a legend in women’s track racing, was in first place and pretty uncatchable with the sprint event still to come and that obviously being her best event. I was hoping to at least make it in to the final of the sprints, to put myself ahead of Jayne Paine and Marianne Britten. But this wasn’t to be. My one lap sprint heat didn’t exactly go how I wished. It was a fast one lap and I didn’t quite react quickly enough and put myself in hard position and finished 2nd which put me in the minor final. The best I could hope for in this event was now 4th place. Unfortunately this wasn’t to be either. I had Jayne in my sprint final. I think I got my first big taste of Omnium tactics as she completely boxed me in and I ended up 2nd across the line, still ahead of Jayne though, which was good for me in the overall standings.
The final event…the Points race. One of my favourites as it rewards a good sprinter who can recover quickly in between the sprint laps. I also knew I had to perform well if I wanted to feature anywhere on the podium. I needed to make sure I was ahead of Jayne and Marianne for as many of the sprints as I could manage. Also, I was just angry at how I had done in the sprints so wanted to make it a good and hard race. There were 5 sprints, I featured in the first four sprints, I don’t think I won any, but some 2nds and 3rds which all add up. I tried to keep an eye on the other riders but my legs were hurting badly after the long rain break. I didn’t have much energy left for the final sprint, I just hoped I had done enough in the others to make it on to the podium.
So then came the tense wait to find out the overall results. The officials called out from 6th place. I wasn’t 6th….I wasn’t 5th….I was expecting to hear my name called out next…..but I wasn’t 4th!!! AWESOME! I made it on the podium for my first ever National Track race. Jayne and I finished on the same points, but the tie-breaker was the last event and I beat her in the Points race. A sweet victory in our little omnium battle!
1 Janet Birkmyre XRT-Elmy Cycles 9 points
2 Marianne Britten VC St Raphael 15 points
3 Lydia Boylan Look Mum No Hands! 17 points
4 Jayne Paine Willesdon CC 17 points
5 Sarah Crowley Cardiff Ajax CC 23 points
6 Cheryl Owens AW Cycles 25 Points
7 Hanneke van der Werf Cardiff Ajax CC 35 points
8 Isabel Cashman London Phoenix 42 points
9 Sarah Lewis London Phoenix 43 points
So in all it was a very long day full of hard races, but I loved it! I can’t wait now for the next National Omnium! I’ve definitely learnt a lot from Saturday’s races and hope to improve in fitness and in tactics for the next event. It’s also good to know that I can still be competitive on the track with out fancy wheels and pursuit bars….but if anyone would like to give me some, I’d happily take them!! 😉