Even Germany’s ‘God of thunder’ Paul (Winston) Churchill couldn’t stop the sun shining on Herne Hill Velodrome despite the day before being the wettest of the year, by the time the racing started the sun was out and the track was dry as a bone.There was a fantastic mix of riders and abilities in all categories with enthusiastic competition in all races, the seniors heats were first up and the entertainment began immediately with Italian Luco Lupo trying to take Matt Rotherham out the back of the bunch on the first lap, but the experienced Rotherham was having none of it and without panicking rode back onto the group. It was evident that Rollapaluza National Series winner John Paul was going to be the one to beat accelerating with blistering power. All the top riders made it through to the final apart from Italian Luco Lupo including newcomer Dan Bray who was only competing in a race for the second time, Tom Baker put in consistantly good performances to reach the final and fully deserved his third place overall behind Matt Rotherham and the flying Scot John Paul who is now a double Rollapaluza winner on rollers and track. The women’s National Series winner Ishbel Taromsari had made the long journey down from Falkirk to compete along with local girls from Brixton Cycles and Elite Coaching and Mule Bar Girl. The women’s races were as competitive as the men’s with the two Brixton girls Nikki Dukes-Kovacs and Sarah Connell trading blows with Taromsari. In the women’s final Taromsari took her place behind the derny and attempted to win the race from the front as Chris Hoy does but unfortunately for her the two Brixton riders came around her on the final bend with Connell taking the victory from her team mate Dukes-Kovacs with Sarah Brook from Mule Bar Girl finishing the day strong in third.
The novice category was hotly contested with the ever enthusiastic Atiba impressing but having problems with his tactics and gearing, two riders from last seasons novice race moved up to the senior race this year, Johnathon Crowther was the overall winner and may well look to step up next year.It was great to see Rollapaluza favorite James (Hillbilly) Sullivan back on form and racing again after his accident.
The biggest cheer of the day was for Herne Hill favorite and ‘Buffalo Soldier’ Jim Robertson finishing second in his final race.
It was a successful day made even better by the weather and seeing international racing on one of the most iconic velodromes in the world and also seeing the Keirin Festival going from strength to strength.
Thanks to Iain McLauchlan for the photographs to have a better look see his gallery on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/iainmclauchlan/9596445715/?v=1