By Race Captain Luke Andrews
Last weekend (4/5th March) held the first BUCS event of 2023 (although notably the second most prestigious event of the weekend sharing the date with CUCC’s own cuppers, which I’m told is soon to join the World Tour). The University Track Cycling Championships were held at the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales.
Mere days after first stepping foot in a velodrome, 7 starry-eyed roadies-turned-trackies made the arduous journey across the country to take part in the event (with some minor detours to acquire some last minute free-speed along the way in the form of shiny track wheels). Late Friday night the crew arrived in Cardiff, just in time to boil a month’s supply of pasta, watch some GCN to remind the squad what a ‘velodrome‘ and ‘lock-ring’ were, and double check none of the wheels had punctured after Tim’s adventurous van driving.
Saturday saw a blizzard early of races with the Men’s Kilo TT and Team Pursuit, and the Womens Individual Pursuit all before lunchtime. The scene could have easily been confused for the University Sprocket and Wheel Changing Championships with the speed at which CUCC’s seemingly only 14 tooth cog was shuffled around the squad. Tom Wade started the day by putting in a blistering Kilo time, so fast in-fact, that he overtook his opponent without even noticing, and the commissaires could only manage to give him an estimated time due to the time-dilation they experienced. Tim Welsh and Joe Adlam-Cook followed this effort up with equally impressive four lappers, coming in 23rd and 13th respectively.
Next inline was Jo Matthews in the Women’s Individual Pursuit. Taking to the track with absolute focus, she smashed out an astounding 4:08 with more left in the tank, putting a comfortable 7 seconds into her Oxfordshire opponent. This netted a 7th place finish out of 15 competitors, an impressive result and even more so with just 2 previous sessions on a velodrome. Finally, the Men’s Team Pursuit, a complex, technical and strategic race where teamwork and free speed are key. With a collection of begged and borrowed wheels and helmets to maximise both speed and style points, Joe Adlam-Cook, Matt Rizzo-Naudi, Tom Wade and Tim Welsh took to the track for qualifying. Smooth changes and big numbers followed, bringing the team home with a time of 4:37.5, just 2 seconds outside the bronze-medal match. No doubt these roadies-turned-trackies will be back with a vengeance and a hunger for the taste of BUCS silverware.
After a spicy morning of riding, the bikes were packed and the team headed back to refuel and reset before Sunday’s racing, winding down and disconnecting from cycling by watching the extended highlights of both the Men’s and Women’s Strada Bianca in full, and binging cycle-speedway videos from the 1990’s.
Sunday saw a delayed arrival after navigating through the Newport Half-Marathon, mostly spent looking on at the attendees and wondering why they weren’t using bikes instead. Racing kicked off with the Women’s 500 TT, which saw Miranda Clements lay down the watts with a stylish 40.5, netting 18th place in the event.
Men’s Individual Pursuit followed soon after, the final test for Matt Rizzo-Naudi and Luke Andrews after hundreds of seconds of aero and position testing. This came to a tee with equally impressive times and pain faces, with Luke coming in 14th and Matt blowing the track to pieces with a 4:41, good enough for an outrageous 7th place. Soon after came the Women’s Team Sprint, where Miranda and Jo teamed up for a flying 500, blitzing round in time of 40.8, less than a second off of the bronze medal race. The final even of CUCC’s weekend was the Men’s points race, with Joe Adlam-Cook taking the bullet and racing 100 laps at maximum effort. He stayed with the bunch and collected sprint points to come home a cool 8th position in a hotly contested race, and most impressively stayed upright throughout!
Unfortunately, BUCS were unable to take any photos of this day’s racing, as they were too distracted by the sight of Tim Welsh on a Sunday rollers session and a blurry CUCCet Hat.
A special thanks goes to alumus Jack Kellam for providing shelter for the weekend and speedy lids, Rob Walker and Gabe Fowden for generously lending the club their wheels, and Southampton University for kindly lending their wheels as well.