Track stars of the future were put through their paces at the DHL Sprint School racing day at Manchester Velodrome.
More than 50 junior riders travelled from across the UK to compete in the season finale, which was held on the day of the Revolution 22 international open.
British Cycling coaches Tim Buckle and Gary Coltman organised an action-packed day, with six hours of competition for the youngsters.
Tim was delighted with how much the riders had improved over the season. He said: “Objectives for ‘08 were about having fun and showing improvement … Tick! I’d better get my head down and make ‘09 even better.”
During a three-hour morning session on the track, the competitors took part in keirin heats and devils. Heats for Keirins were seeded according to 200m times, with the top two finishers in each heat moving up and the bottom two moving down. This allowed riders of all ages to race against those of similar ability.
Matt Rotherham,14, and Emily Kay, 13, emerged victorious after 45 heats. Later that evening, the two young riders presented triple Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy with his winner’s bouquet after he rode to victory at Revolution 22 and did a victory lap in front of the packed crowd.
Olympic gold medallist Jamie Staff was on hand in the morning, helping the children to warm up and giving tips and tactics to those waiting on the fence for their turn to go. He said: “It was a brilliant day watching the young kids put into practice what they have learned over the past year. The improvements they have all made, both technically and tactically, is great.
“I hope it has given them a better understanding of what it takes to be a sprinter and I hope they all pursue their dreams in wanting to be the Chris Hoys, Vicki Pendletons and Jamie Staffs of the future! I’ve no doubt they will.”
“I hope they all pursue their dreams in wanting to be the Chris Hoys, Vicki Pendletons and Jamie Staffs of the future! I’ve no doubt they will.”
The heats finished nearly an hour ahead of schedule, allowing time for three devils. These were close-fought battles between the tired youngsters, and many of those placed highly in the morning were unable to hold their form.
After a short lunch break and a visit from Chris Hoy, the riders were back, this time on Wattbike cycle machines. Jamie was joined by fellow Olympians Jason Kenny and Ross Edgar, and together they set the time to beat.
The youngsters were then divided into 12 teams after being seeded by a quick 250 TT. The competition was fierce and just a few seconds separated the first and last placed teams. Showing some serious speed, Rebecca Womersley, Matt Webb and Alan Trulove successfully saw off the competition.
Rebecca said: “I had a fantastic day thanks to DHL. I really enjoyed Keirin racing in the morning and was pleased that my team won the sprint on the Wattbikes. The prize was great – having my photo taken with the British sprint squad at the evening Revolution.”
The final award of the day went to Eleanor Corkhill. Eleanor’s enthusiastic nature, happy demeanour and dedication impressed her coaches and she was awarded a jersey signed by some of the best sprinters in the world, including Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Jamie Staff and Arnaud Tournant.
Eleanor said: “Sprint School has given me so much more confidence and skill that I needed to ride the track at a whole new level. The coaches are great, and every time I have been to a sprint school, I have made new friends. I also enjoyed meeting the ‘stars’ because they are really good at giving you advice if you are stuck.”
Dates for Sprint School 2009 will be announced soon.