18th November 2023
The day began bright and early with the men’s sprint 200m qualifying, which saw Oliver Aloul (ESV Manchester) set the fastest time of the 49 riders in a time of 10.270, and was the only rider to break the 10.3 barrier. With so many riders, the races were divided into A, B and C categories, with the fastest 12 racing in the A class.
The first round of the men’s A sprints saw all but one of the top five from qualifying go through, with Harvey McNaughton (Wales Racing Academy), who was eighth in qualifying, besting junior keirin champion Will Munday (Glasgow Track Racing Team). McNaughton carried his form into the quarter-final where he edged out Balint Csengoi (BCC Race Team) to join Aloul, second-fastest qualifier Aaron Pope (University of Exeter) and Oli Pettifer (Enhanced) in the semis.
The result was two very entertaining semi-finals with ultimately the top two from qualifying, Pope and Aloul, re-establishing their dominance, and teeing up a re-match in the final.
In the ride off for bronze, McNaughton managed to see off Pettifer to take a spot on the podium. The final saw a cat-and-mouse chase between Pope and Aloul, with a tentative start. As the pair ramped up the pace, Aloul went first at ferocious speed. Pope tried to come round the outside through the final corner, but it would be too little too late as Aloul hung on to take victory.
The crowd were treated to some fantastic racing in the B, C and D sprints too. In the B sprint, Jack Wybrow (Black Line) valiantly took the victory from Bo Mayer (Enhanced), and Bram Ottewell (BCC Race Team) would beat Jack Pearson (BCC Race Team) to win the bronze.
In the C races, Noah Woodhouse (BCC Race Team) won the day from Atiba Quildan (Twickenham CC) and William Flatau (BCC Race Team) in second and third respectively. To round out a fantastic day of men’s sprint, David Blyth (Glasgow Track Racing Team) went on to win the D sprint with Richard Pepper (Black Line) in second and Struan Ferns (Glasgow Riderz) getting the final podium spot in third.
The women’s sprint offered an equally exciting prospect with an international field raring to go. In the 200m qualifying, Georgette Rand (Velo Club Lincoln) produced the fastest time with an 11.319 ahead of Amy Cole (Wales Racing Academy) and Ellie Stone (Black Line), with the top six all going sub-12.
The top three from qualifying all cruised through the quarters, leaving one spot up for grabs that was to be decided in a sibling showdown between Kirsty and Sarah Johnson (Edinburgh RC). Despite Sarah getting the better of Kirsty in qualifying, Kirsty turned the tables in a close contest of a quarter-final to progress to the semis. With the momentum clearly on her side, Kirsty then produced an impressive performance to beat Rand and progress to the final.
Johnson was to be joined by a flying Cole who was victorious against Stone. The final for gold did not disappoint, as a valiant effort from Johnson was to no avail against a powering Cole who rushed to the line first. In the bronze ride-off, Stone would go on to claim the final medal of the women’s sprint in a high-paced battle.
Whilst all this sprint drama was taking place, the day also saw a tightly fought endurance battle over three preliminary races before the infamous Newport GP 100 lap scratch.
A fast and furious 40-lap scratch race kicked off the endurance races, with riders firing off the front as a revolving game of cat and mouse ensued between breakaways and bunch. Ultimately, it came down to a sprint and Isaac Lawrence came powering over the bunch from behind to take a dominant win.
Next up was the 40-lap points race, with no rider taking a lap but several moves off the front throughout. Tom Ward (WardPerformanceUK.com) looked comfortable as he collected the full five points on the second sprint and made sure he was in the perfect position to capitalise on his haul in the final, taking a maximum of 10 points and the overall win.
The elimination followed shortly after, and the washing machine effect was in full force as riders regularly found themselves moving from safety to danger in moments. It was clear that some riders looked calm in the chaos and the bunch was quickly reduced to a final five. Callum Twelves (Torres-Fernando) and James Satoor (Bridgnorth Cycling) both rode well but were edged out as each elimination grew closer. Some fantastic positioning from Max Hinds (Evolution Racing Academy) saw him finish third, but Ward riding off the high of his points race win surged away. With Hinds unable to follow, only Archie Fletcher (360cycling) hung on. Fletcher was clearly on form and after finishing second in both races so far, he made sure to take the top spot.
The highly anticipated Newport GP 100 lap scratch race saw riders waste no time getting stuck into the 25km ordeal, with the pace quickly rising. Riders who had worked hard in the previous three events started to feel the heat and with 50 laps to go, the bunch was thinned out. As the final 30 laps approached, no move had stuck yet, but with splits opening and closing regularly, it was inevitable the elastic would snap.
Ward looked confident, but he would be caught on the wrong side of the decisive split. Satoor and Oli Hambrey (Team HUUB) would also miss out after being active in the earlier portion of the race.
It soon became clear that the 2023 Newport GP winner would come from the group of five that had splintered off the front, and as the sprint approached the inevitable game-playing began. With one and a half laps to go, Nathan Hardy (Team PB Performance) looked strong but the trio of riders that had already tasted the podium, Fletcher, Lawrence and Hinds, pushed for the line. With a dominant final kick, Fletcher squeezed himself to victory, capping off a successful day of racing, while Lawrence settled for 2nd. Hinds finished third, but the rider, who is still an under-16, came flying down the final straight, perhaps setting his mark for editions to come.
Supporting keirin races
Four supporting keirin races saw wins for Oliver Pettifer (Enhanced) in the A ride, Joseph Collett (Abergavenny Road Club) in the B class, Jack Horley (ESV Manchester) in the C’s, and Zoe Wolfs (Evolution Sprinting Team) in the D race.
It was racing that the ever-missed John Paul would have loved, with each rider looking proud to race under his tribute illuminated on the track centre screen.
Thank you to all those who took part, volunteered and attended this fantastic event!