Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins, two of the greatest names in world cycling, put on a spectacular show as international cycling made its debut on Derby’s new velodrome track.
Revolution, Britain’s leading track cycling series, staged its opening event at the Derby Arena with some of the world’s top track cycling stars. The four sessions, over three days, were all sold out and fans from across the country were treated to top class action with a variety of races from single flying laps to 40km endurance races over 160 laps.
There were top racers from France, Belgium, Holland and much of Europe, but it was Cavendish and Wiggins that the crowds wanted to see. With the cyclists based in the ground floor infield area, the crowds gathered around the Great Britain team, hoping to catch a glimpse of their heroes before they took to the track.
The pair joined forces for the event-closing Madison race, the first time they have ridden together since they missed out on an Olympic medal in the Madison in the 2008 Beijing games. Both riders subsequently concentrated on road cycling, with Cavendish taking 26 Tour de France stage wins while Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour, in 2012, before taking Olympic gold in the men’s time trial.
The 40km Madison race is a fast and furious relay where each rider, in turn, catches his team-mate to give him a sling-shot to continue in the race. No longer an Olympic discipline, it still provides an excellent spectacle and Cavendish and Wiggins had the crowd roaring as they racked up the points as they won five of the eight sprints, before Wiggins crossed the line first to seal the victory.
“We’ve qualified now and got some points,” said Sir Bradley following the race. “I don’t know whether that’s enough to ride the Madison (at the World Championships), I’m not too sure. I’m retired now anyway, I’ve got plenty of freedom but ‘Cav’ he’s got a hectic schedule.”
Belgium’s Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw finished eleven points adrift with 100% ME’s Chris Latham and Mark Stewart in third a further six points behind.
The biggest cheer of Friday evening’s opening session was also reserved for Wiggins and the British men’s pursuit team as the they completed their 4km final in 3 minutes 54.974, just three seconds outside their 2012 Olympics world record, some seven seconds ahead of the British Academy 100% ME squad. Wiggins, Steven Burke, Ed Clancy and Owain Doull, set a fast pace that left the British youngsters toiling, but they still finished well ahead of the Netherlands and Austria.
Derby City Councillor Martin Repton was on hand to congratulate the winning riders, less Sir Bradley who was fined 200 Swiss Francs for his absence. “A superb event and a superb occasion for Derby and the Midlands,” said the Councillor, who is an enthusiastic cycling fan. “We’ve got up to 2000 people here which is incredible, a really enthusiastic crowd, people from Derby and way beyond as well.
“We’ve seen a really exciting schedule of events, topped for me by the last race where we saw Great Britain winning with Bradley Wiggins leading the national team. Absolutely superb and exhilarating, so good to see such an important event. This is the last major event when all these top class world cyclists will be gathering before the Olympics in Rio next year. It’s really important, not only for Derby, but nationally as well, so we are really proud to have this event here in Derby.”
Mark Cavendish has unfinished business on the track and would love another crack at an Olympic medal next year. Prior to the Derby Revolution meeting, the Manxman had just two weeks of track training, but showed that he could be a serious contender.
Cavendish was entered in the Omnium, a six-discipline compendium of track cycling ranging from single lap sprints to endurance races, where his chief rival was Olympic bronze medallist Ed Clancy. In the opening Scratch Race Cavendish finished eleventh, his rivals marking every move and refusing to let him get away.
“Every other country is racing as a team, for us it’s a selection race and he had no support,” said the GB endurance coach Heiko Salzwedel. “It was every man for himself, but that’s perfect, in a way. There were eleven current or previous World and Olympic champion sprinters out there and the standard was incredible. I’ve never seen racing like it.”
Cavendish was second in the Pursuit and, in the Elimination race, rode aggressively, never dropping below fifth place. He was ahead in every sprint, eventually settling for fourth place behind Clancy.
Clancy dominated the following day, establishing a 28 point lead over Cavendish after victories in the 1km Time Trial and Flying Lap as they lined up for the Points Race finale. With points to be gained in a sprint, every ten laps, Cavendish did reduce the deficit by ten points, but with two sprints remaining the final positions were settled and Clancy took the event by 228 points to 210. Team Wiggins’ Jonathan Dibben gained a lap on the peloton to win this final race.
Cavendish has now gained 72 of the 90 points he needs to continue his Olympic dream and was planning to complete the task at an event in Germany later in August. He would then be eligible for the UCI’s World Cup meetings over the winter and the Track World Championships in London next March.