Having suffered a crash and fracturing my right arm at the end of May, my build up to the junior nationals was far from ideal. This meant that I was forced to spend the next 6 weeks of my training on the turbo and the leg press. Having endured this block of training I was finally able to get on the track for just 4 weeks in order to get some form for the nationals. Fortunately the 4 track sessions that I had were very successful and I was able to work on my starting technique for the kilo as well as selecting my gearing for my 3 events and getting some flying efforts on the track.
Entering the championships with the knowledge that I was not on great form lead to a lot of nerves and I was anxious to get onto the track and see how I compared to my competitors. My first opportunity to do this came on the Tuesday, with the junior male Kilometre TT, the event that I was the least prepared for. As I was in one of the later heats, I was able to see the times of other competitors get faster and more serious. When I entered the starting gate the leader was Germain Burton with a time of 1:08.6 for his effort. I was able to take the lead from Germain for a short time, before I was knocked into fourth place by Matt Gibson, Leon Gledhill and Tom Arnstiein. A result made more frustrating by the gap of 4 hundredths of a second between myself and the third placed rider.
My second event, the match sprint competition took place on the Wednesday and I was more confident as the kilo had shown that my form was good enough for a fourth in my worst of the sprint events. The qualification went well and I was able to qualify fastest ahead of Leon Gledhill, Max Nethell and teammate Ryan Owens. Due to the seeding of the competition I was able to move through the early rounds swiftly, to race Leon Gledhill in the semi- final, having won his repechage race. In the first match I drew the man 2 position and was able to control things from the back, we entered the home straight with one to go fully committed to the sprint. I was able to keep my gap from Leon and with greater speed I was able to rush and overtake him to win the first match. In match 2 I was in the man 1 position and I again was able to control the pace of the race, however due to an observational error Leon was able to dive underneath me with one lap to go. Fortunately I was able to set up a gap and gain overhaul him to reach the gold medal final with a 2-0 victory. The gold medal ride was between myself and Max Nethell. I drew the man 1 position and led the race from the front, I was able to control the pace and wind up the speed over the last lap to win the first match of the final. In match 2, from man 2 I was able to control the speed and dive under Max with 1 lap to go, from this move I was a able to gain a large lead and win the gold medal ride off 2-0.
My final event; the keirin took place on the Friday, with a short layout of 2 rounds and then the final. In the first round nobody seemed willing to take the front of the race, so I made a move with 1.5 laps to go and was able to wind up the pace to win my first race. During my second round race, again nobody was willing to take the front, so I was able to make the same move with 1.5 laps to go and again, win my heat. In the final there was much more urgency, with the pace being taken up by Tom Rotherham with 2 laps remaining. This was followed by a large acceleration over the top of the group by Ryan Owens, followed by myself and Leon Gledhill on the back straight. We then hit the front of the group at top speed with the bell ringing and 1 lap remaining. With my higher qualifying speed I was able to hold off Leon and overtake Ryan on the final bend as he began to tire. Finishing with myself in first place, with Leon second and Ryan, also of Performance Cycle Coaching in third.
This was a great result for me especially as I have only been on the bike for 4 weeks before the nationals. It was also great to be on the podium with my teammate Ryan Owens. I look forward to racing in the senior nationals in these events and also in the team sprint with Ryan and Tom Baker.
Finally, I would like to thank the team sponsors for their ongoing support.