I headed down to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester on Saturday to catch round three of the Revolution track cycling series. At the afternoon session, heats and preliminary stages were on the agenda, but there were also a couple of finals thrown in there too. The atmosphere was surprisingly lively for midday, with families, serious cyclists and people of all ages attending, curious to see what the velodrome is all about.
It’s fair to say that the face of cycling has changed completely in the last couple of years, the public exposure and profile of cycling has exploded into the near-mainstream. Saturday at the velodrome was a true testament to that development.
After a quick lap round the track, checking out all the cycling clothing stalls and how steep the track looks from the top, the action started to kick off. First up was the sprints and flying lap races, and the speed and aggression was full-on from the start. Riders such as Laura Trott, Katie Archibald, Lizzie Armitstead, Alex Dowsett, Ed Clancy, Jason Kenny and Peter Kennaugh were racing, so it’s fair to say the standard was set pretty high from the start.
A world apart
Track cycling is an energetic, aggressive sport like no other. Having seen and experienced my fair share of road races and triathlons from a spectator point of view, I can’t compare the rush of pure speed that’s present in this sport from the word go. The sport is also very accessible, as I was wondering round the track wherever I could, catching the riders whizzing up high on the vertical, then weaving in and out of their opposition.
The women’s points race was thrilling to watch: 25km and 30 plus minutes of gruelling, grinding, hard-working endurance. It left me thinking how on earth they did it, Gold medallist Laura Trott put in an amazing performance alongside Lizzie Armitstead. With a coffee firmly in hand, I retreated back to my seat for what was supposedly the main event: the men’s points race final.
Star of the show
Peter Kennaugh arrived a little later than the other teams, and he brought a sense of mystery with him. Dressed head to toe in his black Sky kit, he made his way over to the warm up area. While the other races were still in full swing, I could see him start to get ready, an air of intense focus about him. He changed into his team socks and shoes, and jumped up onto his rollers to warm up. Little did I know, Kennaugh was about to make history on the track just minutes later.
Very early in to the points race, it was clear to see that Kennaugh was just working harder than everyone else, where it seemed acceptable to coast along in between sprints, Kennaugh was burning rubber, lapping his opponents a total of seven times throughout the race. Once or twice is very good, but seven times, it’s unheard of.
People were saying that the other racers weren’t trying hard enough, or that they were ‘letting him win’, I have to disagree. From the view I got, it was obvious that Peter Kennaugh was giving a 100% every minute of that race. It’s so easy to slip back and do just what’s needed, saving yourself for the sprint laps and hoping you can scrape a win on the last few goes round. But Kennaugh, Kennaugh was a different story, he broke through his potential and went above and beyond all the way through the 40 minutes of hell. How his legs didn’t set on fire and combust, I really don’t know. All I can think of, is that he had peaked at the exact right time during his training and preparation. Hard work and pure effort paid off for Peter that day.
After a short interval break, the event continued in the evening with more races and finals, you can view all the results on the Revolution Series official website.