I think we can say the first Keirin inside was a success, not taking anything away from outdoor velodromes but its nice not to have to worry about the great British weather, and to draw a big crowd into the National Cycling Centre makes us very proud.
The colourful Keirin jerseys specially made by Miltag and the Sushi bar just added to the flavour of Japan, the racing also lived up to its name as well, fast and furious from the off, the mens competition was held over three heats with the top six riders from the heats progressing to the final, and for the women semi-finals,minor final and final.
There were some outstanding performances in the heats, everyone being hard fought with different tactics being played out David Daniel trying every trick in the book to outsmart the more fancied riders,veteran Craig McLean( Dolan Bikes) looked confident and smooth in his heats and was probably seen as a real threat by his younger counterparts and a scalp they wanted, as well as being held in high regard by them.
Pete Mitchell (Performance Cycle Coaching) John Paul ( City of Edinburgh RC) and local rider Matt Rotherham (Sport City Velo) all looked strong along with Dutchman Michael Veen ( AR&TV de Adelaar ) but undoubtedly it was the rider from Poland Damian Zielinski who was looking the strongest as the heats progressed.
The women’s race looked like it would be between Lauren Bate-Lowe (Sport City Velo) Sophie Capewell (Lichfield CCC) and Rachel James (Abergavenny RC)
The racing was being soundtracked by none other than Rollapaluza’s resident DJ Alec Briggs, adding to the fantastic atmosphere, the large crowd were giving plenty of encouragement to all riders while enjoying some excellent commentary from Marty MacDonald
The women’s final sponsored by Yellow JerseyUK was a little bit of a shock with Sophie Capewell taking the victory in front of the more fancied Rachel James with Lauren Bate-Lowe in third, it was a well earned cheque for £1000 that Sophie received from Cassie Brady with price money down to eighth place.
Sophie said after ” Its been a fantastic event and I just love racing, we have sprinter leagues but no Keirin and I just love it, It would be great if this was a permanent fixture”
The mens final was a superb line up of sprint stars making it pretty much impossible to pick the winner until the final ten metres where the in form Damian Zielinski just got his wheel in front of the crowds favourite Matt Rotherham with Pete Mitchell in third to claim his £2000 first prize, then to collapse on the floor with exhaustion, once Damian got his breath back he told me ” I really enjoyed this, you have great spectators in England, I think you train them… they love to come to the cycling, I didn’t arrive here till late so I was a little bit surprised that I felt so good because I had very little sleep after travelling from Germany”
Craig McLean’s reflection on the event was ” It been such an enjoyable evening certainly for me anyway, theres a lot of new riders so its quite nice to feel the nerves again, specially leading into the Commonwealth Games and its nice to still be in amongst it. I think the the crowd were fantastic tonight and to get this many people along to watch a Keirin is a good sign, if you would have had this event ten years ago there would have been about ten people in the grandstand as opposed to 1300, so its great to see and lets hope Rollapaluza can host it again up here”