Jess Roberts doubles up at British Track Championships as 19 year-old sprinter topples Olympian
Comeback queen wins her first solo national title in the scratch race
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Jess Roberts led the medal rush on the second day of the British Track National Championships with two titles.
The Welshwoman was part of a dominant women’s team pursuit team in the morning before taking a closely fought scratch title in the afternoon.
In the women’s scratch race, try as she might, defending champion Neah Evans (Huub) could not separate herself from eventual victor Roberts (Inspired). The pair first took a lap alongside third place finisher Grace Lister (Inspired) and before breaking away in the closing laps to contest the final sprint between the two of them. Roberts edged it and took her second national title of the weekend in the process.
“It’s been a good day,” she told Cycling Weekly after the scratch race. “I’m happy with today, and to get my first individual title is nice.”
Roberts had been part of the winning women’s pursuit team earlier in the day when alongside Maddie Leech, Grace Lister and Ella Barnwell they caught the Alba Development Race team before the four-kilometre race reached the half-way mark.
Having spent time away from the track with an injury, the 23-year-old was pleased to be working her way back to her best. “I’m slowly getting there. Last year I got two medals at Euros and Worlds so that gave me some confidence. It’s just about getting consistency in and keep pushing those limits."
While Roberts's win felt like a return to form, the victory of British Cycling senior academy rider Harry Ledingham-Horn (Inspired) over experienced sprinter and Olympic silver medalist Jack Carlin (Inspired) felt like an announcement.
Ledingham-Horn had been part of the winning team sprint team the day before but that had appeared relatively straight forward while getting the better of Carlin came in dramatic fashion with all three rounds closely fought.
“I look up to Jack so much. I think I was a junior when he raced in Tokyo and won bronze [in the individual sprint] and I remember watching that, so to go into the final against him today was surreal to be honest.
“I just didn't think I had any chance I was happy with the silver but then the first one was a lot closer than I thought it was going to be and I went, ‘Oh, you know I think I’ve got a chance.’ I got myself a bit more pumped up for the next round and in the third I just gave it absolutely everything.”
The 19 year-old will race again on Sunday in the Keirin.
The Inspired rider is not the only young sprinting talent having a break-out championships. Emma Finucane hasn’t lost a race yet at this meet, and duly took the women’s Keirin title ahead of Katie Marchant and Sophie Capewell in an all Team Inspired final.
“I’m definitely just taking these races as they come, I’m not really thinking about the next one,” Finucane said. “I’m just trying to do my best, and I feel like I’ve really done that.
Asked if she hoped to add to her tally on Sunday in the women’s sprint and 500m time trial, the 20-year-old said: “I’ll just leave everything on the track, like I’ve been doing, and hopefully learn some more and gain experience.”
Perrett’s points dominance
In the men’s points race, Will Perrett (Chaney Windows and Doors) put in a resounding performance taking three laps - all in the second half of the race - amassing a stonking 80 points to take the title. Will Tidball (Saint Piran) was second with 44 points, while his team-mate Josh Charlton rounded out the podium.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Perrett told Cycling Weekly. “I came fifth at the Worlds and a lot of people were really impressed. But if I then turn up to the National Champs and I get beaten, people will start questioning me.”
As he came across the line to take a fourth career national title, Perrett opened his arms wide and saluted the crowds. “I just get carried away,” he laughed. “At the end of the day, you train really hard. So when that hard work pays off, you’ve just got to enjoy yourself. You’ve got to enjoy riding a bike, right?”
In the para-cycling events, the most impressive, if not the most surprising, ride of the day came from World Champion Finn Graham (Para-T) in the men’s C1-5 3km pursuit where he set a new national record of 3.25.128 on his way to victory over Ryan Taylor (Ilkston CC). Ben Hetherington (Wattshop) rounded out the podium.
“It’s amazing getting to race in the world champs stripes at Nationals,” Graham said. “It never gets less special to win a National Championships and it gives me a lot of confidence for the season.”
In the women’s event it was Daphne Scrager (Di Mascio) who beat Morgan Newberry (Loughborough Lightning) to the title in a field of two.
Archi Atkinson (Para-T) took home the men’s 4km C5-5 title against veteran Will Bjergfelt (05/03) with Martin Hailstone (Addform - Vive-le-velo) in third.
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Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, World Championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the Middle East. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.
- Tom DavidsonNews and Features Writer
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