More than 50 young riders travelled to Manchester Velodrome last weekend to take part in the DHL Sprint School Race Day. The riders, all graduates of the 2009 season of DHL Sprint School, competed in Team Sprints and Keirin racing, with the Keirin final taking place in front of a sell-out Velodrome crowd during the Revolution Championship in the evening.
British track stars Craig MacLean and Jamie Staff were on hand all day providing team talks and cheering on the competitors. Staff took a turn on the microphone, providing live commentary on the Wattbike racing.
After three hours of tight competition, the six finalists for the evening’s Keirin were decided. They were George Stevens and Ted Bate of Halesowen track league, Cameron Swarbrick of Reading and Calshot, Ben Green of Scunthorpe, Luke Boulton of Manchester ACT league and Adam Lewis of Wolverhampton Wheelers.
Sporting DHL Sprint School jerseys and showing an admirable lack of nerves, the finalists took to the track. Holding them on the start line was a host of famous faces, including Geraint Thomas, Rob Hayles and Dean Downing. After a few words of encouragement from British cycling legend and coach, Geoff Cooke, the gun sounded and the race began.
Unfortunately, a first-lap crash eliminated Adam Lewis, highlighting just how cruel track racing can be. Meanwhile, the lessons learned at Sprint School were clearly paying off. After an all-out sprint as exciting as anything their senior counterparts could offer, the win was snatched by Luke Boulton of Manchester ACT, closely followed by Ben Green in second place and Cameron Swarbrick in third.
Luke Boulton (centre) with Craig MacLean (left) and Jamie Staff (right)
The winner of the race, Luke Boulton, was thrilled to claim the victory;
“It felt brilliant to race in front of so many people! I’m so pleased to have won. The crowd showed us so much support. It’s made me even more determined to keep getting better at cycling. Thanks very much to DHL Sprint School for all the help they have given me.”
“Events like this Race day show how invaluable schemes like Sprint School are,” agreed Jamie Staff. “By developing the skills of these riders from such a young age, we are giving them the best possible start in cycling. For the finalists to have the chance to ride in front of a Revolution crowd is great, and really allows them a taste of professional racing. They did superbly – I’m convinced we’ll be seeing a lot more from these young guys over the coming years.”
Commenting on the race afterwards was Guy Elliott, CEO of DHL Europe. “The promise shown by these young riders is phenomenal. The crowd would have been hard-pressed to tell the difference between this race and a professional one. It’s a real testament to both the kids’ talent and dedication to improving, and to the quality and commitment of the coaching that Sprint School is privileged to offer.”
The dates of the 2010 DHL Sprint School will be announced soon, with three sessions taking place at Newport Velodrome and three in Manchester. News and updates will be available on the Sprint School website www.sprintschool.com.
Riders head off for the DHL Keirin final at Revolution 27