I have had a good string of second place finishes in scratch races at the Junior National Championships, in the Omnium at the Junior World Championships, and even at last years Elite Track National Championships. So after a hugely disappointing fifth place in the morning’s Individual Pursuit, I was ready to turn my results around.
The beginning of this years 60-lap National Scratch Race Championship race started fast, with everyone rotating hard, but not aggressively. Being confident as the fast finisher in the group, I was content to sit-in and work as little as possible, only marking a move if I felt it was a true threat for the win. Every few laps someone would make a brave attack vying for a lap, but the field was eager to keep them in check, tiring themselves out in the process.
No substantial moves developed until just before 20 laps to go with Daniel Hollaway (Team Raleigh UK) leading the charge with Jackie Simes (Team Jamis) and myself in tow. But, the group was not letting us go, keeping our gap small and shedding much of the riff-raff that was left in the field, blowing the race apart. I was behind Simes in the rotation and could see he was struggling to hold the pace that was necessary to fend off the hard charging chasers. One of the times he pulled off, I lifted the tempo enough to lose him, leaving a little over 16 laps (4km) for Hollaway and I to stay off. The group continued to chase, but was not making up any ground until we were within the final eight laps. As we started to hit traffic from lapped riders, Olympian and Pan-American Champion Bobby Lea (Pure Energy Cycles) took up a hard chase with only the top few remaining riders able to stay with him; at first they were gaining ground, but they quickly ran out of real estate. Hollaway and I kept swapping off even pulls and we knew we were close enough to the end to stay away from the now fading chasers. I took the lead in the final lap to lead out the sprint and hold off my breakaway companion for the win.
Overall it was a very good and exciting race with the field splintering and the win coming from a break away; not a sit-around-and-sprint type of scenario that happened last year. Also, being able to stand on top of a podium which included Pan-American Champion, former Professional National Champion in the Criterium and also the Track made my first Scratch Race National title just that much sweeter.