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Centenary Good Friday meeting

Herne Hill Velodrome, England, April 18, 2003

O'Grady Shines at Herne Hill

By Scott Greenwood, www.lightbluecycles.co.uk

Road heroes
Photo: © Lucy Power
Click for larger image

Friday saw the centenary edition of the famous Good Friday Track Meet at Herne Hill velodrome in South London (UK). The stars from both track and road turned out in force at a meet where the spectacular racing was run in glorious sunshine and in front of an exuberant crowd.

With the presence of Stuart O'Grady (Australia/Credit Agricole), Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain/FDJeux.com) and Bradley McGee (Australia/FDJeux.com), the substantial crowd was able to witness three continental road professionals who all boast significant track expertise.

Amongst the track stars, World Champions Chris Hoy (2002 World Kilo Champion) and Chris Newton (2002 World Points Champion) spearheaded a Great Britain team which was up against Multi World Medallist Roberto Chiappa (Italy), Ryan Bayley (Australia) and Jeroen Straathof (Holland).

The morning's racing was dominated by the heats for the Gem Hygiene White Hope Sprint and the Classic Walls Sprint. Some fantastic times were posted in both events, as the rising stars of the track contested the White Hope Sprint, with the more established track sprints demonstrating their prowess in the Classic Walls Sprint.

Classic Walls Sprint

Sprint podium
Photo: © Lucy Power
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As the heats progressed, the Classic Walls Sprint saw Mark French (Australia), Roberto Chiappa (Italy), Ross Edgar (Great Britain), Ryan Bayley (Australia) and Chris Hoy (Great Britain) all win their respective heats and move through to the Quarter Final stages. With the fantastic sprinting continuing, the race moved into the semi final stages, with the winner of one of the repechage races - Teun Mulder of Holland - making it through to the first semi-final again World Kilo Champion Chris Hoy. The other semi-final was contested between Roberto Chiappa of Italy (winner of the Classic Walls Sprint in 2001) and Ryan Bayley of Australia.

The first semi-final saw a battle between Chris Hoy and Teun Mulder, with the superior power of the World Champion helping him through to the finals. This came much to the delight of the Herne Hill crowd, which was vocal in its support of the World Champion. The second semi-final saw the crowd favourite, Roberto Chiappa engage in an epic tussle with Ryan Bayley, which ultimately saw the Italian move through to the final, and within reach of repeating his win of 2001.

The final between Chiappa and Hoy was held over two laps. The first lap was characterised by Chiappa closely following the wheel of the Scotsman Hoy, steadfastly refusing to come round his opponent. However it was the bell for the last lap which finally saw Chiappa manoeuvred to the front and with half a lap to go Chiappa was still leading Hoy. The Italian sprinter took this moment to make his burst for the finish, and after a finale which saw the two sprinters side by side in the home straight, it was Hoy who just managed to edge Chiappa on the line. It was an exciting finale to a superb sprint competition, with both riders receiving a huge reception from the crowd as they completed a lap of honour.

Gem Hygiene White Hope Sprint

The Gem Hygiene White Hope Sprint final, which last year had been won by Track and BMX star Jamie Staff of Great Britain (2002 World Team Sprint Champion), saw another good competition culminate in a victory for Matthew Crampton of Sport City Velo.

Centenary "Roadman's" Pursuit

Bradley Wiggins
Photo: © Lucy Power
Click for larger image

Despite the high standards that were being set in the sprint competitions, one of the true highlights of the day was the Centenary Pursuit. A ten minute "Roadman's Pursuit" fought out between four riders saw Stuart O'Grady and Bradley McGee from Australia, take on Bradley Wiggins and Paul Manning of Great Britain/VC St Raphael. This event was originally scheduled to include David Millar (Great Britain/Cofidis), however his recent injuries sustained at the Criterium International relegated Millar to the role of spectator, and resulted in the Great Britain track rider, Paul Manning taking his place.

By half distance, there was little discernable difference between the four riders, as each one strove to cut into the lead of the man in front. If at any point, a rider is overtaken, then he is eliminated, however the well matched form of each rider threw the potential for elimination into doubt. Only as the riders began to reach the latter stages of the race, did it become clear that the British riders, Wiggins and Manning, were holding a slight advantage over the Australian pair.

Within the closing laps it was clear that the smooth style of Wiggins was making inroads into O'Grady's advantage, and on the line of the final lap, the Francais Des Jeux rider caught O'Grady to confirm an outstanding performance. With Manning taking second ahead of McGee, it was a thrilling culmination to another great race.

Sport and Publicity Derny Paced Race

O'Grady winds it up
Photo: © ImageKing
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A busy schedule for the riders continued as the stars of the "Roadman's Pursuit" took part in the 25 lap Derny Race. Ten motor-paced teams contested this event, with the crowd being treated to some skillful and exciting racing. The first ten laps were covered at an average of 34 seconds a lap, as riders and their pacers played out a very tactical race.

It was with ten laps to go that the pace started to increase to 31 second laps as Bradley McGee started to impress upon the race. With only five laps to go, it was Wiggins who had taken over at the head of the field, with O'Grady in second and McGee a close third. The pace had considerably increased in the closing laps, and with two laps to go a 26 second lap was recorded as the leading group of six established supremacy.

With the podium places to be shared amongst these six, an amazing pace was set on the final lap, and the crowd was treated to a fantastic turn of speed by Stuart O'Grady which saw him take the victory in front of Bradley Wiggins and James Taylor (City of Edinburgh RT).

Golden Wheel Scratch Race

Golden Wheel action
Photo: © Jamie Pearson
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A 20 km race contested by a large field saw the stars of track and road contesting the richest track race in the UK, and it was this final race of the meet which saw further fireworks from the European Pros.

The first attack of the day by Anthony Reullier (VC Cholet) saw Sean Yates (Team Clean) chase down the move before the popular Director Sportif of Team CSC made his own move for a lap. Making a rare appearance in the UK, Yates continued to be at the front of the race until the first real breakaway formed at the head of the race. O'Grady, Newton, Pritchard (AngliaSport RT), Straathof (Holland) and Farrar (USA) had a half a lap advantage after one third distance, with the ever present Sean Yates doing much of the work on the front of the bunch. The breakaway continued to maintain its advantage through the middle third of the race; however with 11 laps to go, a combination of hard work by Wiggins and Bryan Steele (Team Chilwell) and a loss of impetus in the front group was enough to bring the race back together.

With seven laps to go 2002 World's Points Race Champion, Newton made the first of a number of attacks which eventually saw him alone at the head of the race with only four laps to go. Chased by a much reduced field, Newton continued his lone attack, and it was only a concerted effort by Wiggins and O'Grady that managed to pull back Newton on the back straight of the final lap.

A fantastic sprint for the line saw a jubilant O'Grady take his second win of the day ahead of Tony Gibb (Team PCA Orbea) and Hew Pritchard (AngliaSport RT).

An excellent day's racing had culminated in a win for the popular O'Grady, who endeared himself further to the crowd with his words of praise for the event, the atmosphere, and even the weather: "I am very happy to have been invited to this fantastic event, and to have had the opportunity to check out the English atmosphere," he said. "The crowd has been fantastic, with the people and the sun coming out."

O'Grady went on to say that, "I am now having a three week break before returning to some racing."


Images by Lucy Power/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Steve King/www.imageking.co.uk

Images by Jamie Pearson/lightbluecycles.co.uk

Images by Jamie Pearson/lightbluecycles.co.uk


SCCU Good Friday Centenary Pursuit

1 Bradley Wiggins (FDJeux.com)         8284m
2 Paul Manning (VC St Raphael)         8270m
3 Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com)           8178m
4 Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole)     8106m

SCCU Golden Wheel 20k Scratch
1 Stuart O'Grady (Australia Credit Agricole)
2 Tony Gibb (Great Britain)
3 Huw Pritchard (Angliasport Racing Team)
4 Fabio Masotti (Italy)
5 James Taylor (City Of Edinburgh Racing Team)
6 Jeroen Straathof (Holland)
Gem Hygiene White Hope Sprint
1 Matthew Crampton (Sport City Velo)
2 Keith Bannan (Team Tile Choice)
3 Jak Kenton(-Spraggan Dataphonics Rt)
Sport & Publicity Derny Paced Race
1 Stuart O'Grady (Australia Credit Agricole)
2 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain Fdjeux.Com)
3 James Taylor (City Of Edinburgh Rt)
Classic Walls International Sprint
1 Chris Hoy (Great Britain)
2 Roberto Chiappa (Italy)
3 Ryan Bayley (Australia)
4 Teun Mulder (Holland)
Ed Taylor Points Race
1 Tony Gibb (Great Britain)
2 Tyler Farrar (USA)
3 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain Fdjeux.Com)
Impsport Elimination Race
1 Matthew Crampton (Sport City Velo)
2 Neil Cooper (Reading Cc)
3 Tom Smith (Cc Cardiff)
Impsport Super Elimination Race
1 Tony Gibb (Great Britain)
2 Chris Newton (Great Britain)
3 Dominic Hill (Bec Cc)
Adept Handicap Sprint
1 Denise Hampsen (Great Britain)
2 Ross Edgard (Great Britain)
3 Barney Storey (Vc St Raphael)
Charlotteville Mile Dash (1)
1 Jeroen Straathof (Holland)
Charlotteville Mile Dash (2)
1 Bryan Taylor (Vc Londres)
10 Laps Scratch
1 Tom Smith (Cc Cardiff)
2 Marc Wilmot (Team Quest)
3 Doug Williams (Halesowen A & Cc)