CYCLING: Spalding riders put on a show

Tilly Gurney (centre), riding for BowlPhish Racing, shadows Jo Smith (left) and Sian Botteley during the 800m National Grass Track Championships at the 150th Heckington Show.  Photo by Tim Bryett.
Tilly Gurney (centre), riding for BowlPhish Racing, shadows Jo Smith (left) and Sian Botteley during the 800m National Grass Track Championships at the 150th Heckington Show. Photo by Tim Bryett.
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Celebrating 150 years, Heckington Show once again played host to cycling with a packed programme of Go Ride racing plus three national championship events.

Local talent featured in all the events with teams from Spalding Cycling Club, Boston Wheelers, Bourne Wheelers, Sleaford and Witham Wheelers in the Go Ride event.

The Spalding/Boston team.

The Spalding/Boston team.

Tilly Gurney of BowlPhish Racing, Sian Botteley of Cycle Team On Form and Sleaford Wheelers’ George Thompson rode in the seniors events.

A lack of eligible riders meant that Spalding looked unlikely to put up a team for the Go Ride competition.

But Boston Wheelers, who had a similar issue, allowed Bradley Worth and Connor Wilkinson to join up with Jack and Velvet Bowser, Ed Gurney and Tom Wright.

Entered as a composite team, Spalding/Boston, with coaching from Shane Norton and Tilly Gurney, they gelled quickly and finished fourth overall by a narrow margin of 20 points from Bourne Wheelers B team.

In a race like the 800m, you can’t use team tactics because it’s so short so the only team tactics were when my team-mate Sherilyn Powell shouted ‘Go Tilly!’

Tilly Gurney

In the girls CDE category sprint, Velvet Bowser took a fine second place while in his boys category D sprint Jack Bowser stormed across the line to win.

A string of third places for Tom Wright in the boys A, Connor Wilkinson boys C, Bradley Worth in the second of the boys B heats followed.

Fourth place in the boys B heat one for Ed Gurney was a fine result with his event being dominated by Bourne Wheelers and Sleaford team members.

The team sprint event, in which all team members take a turn at the front to set the pace, is always a crowd pleaser and fast.

Velvet Bowser was second in the girls CDE Category Sprint behind Molly Peel of Bourne Wheelers.  Photo by Tim Bryett.

Velvet Bowser was second in the girls CDE Category Sprint behind Molly Peel of Bourne Wheelers. Photo by Tim Bryett.

Led off by Wilkinson and with Worth as last man, Spalding’s team did not disappoint – setting a time that put them in third overall at the end of their ride.

It was only the last team to ride, Bourne Wheelers B, who pushed them off that spot.

In the boys C&D scratch endurance race Jack Bowser and Wilkinson rode strongly.

Bowser made a huge attack to take an early lead but faded in the last lap, finishing fourth with Wilkinson fifth.

Jack Bowser winning the Cat D boys Sprint

Jack Bowser winning the Cat D boys Sprint

The boys A&B scratch race gave Wright another third place while Worth crossed the line in seventh and Ed Gurney in 17th.

An impressive day of racing for Tilly Gurney ended with second place in the 500m handicap behind Botteley and third in the ladies mile with Botteley once again on the top step of the podium.

The main focus of the day for Gurney, though, was the 800m national championship.

Bronze medallist in 2016 when Jo Smith was crowned champion and on her home track, hopes were high.

From the gun fast, attacking racing over the two laps culminated in Smith just getting ahead of Botteley and Gurney to take the crown again.

Gurney said: “In a race like the 800m, you can’t use team tactics because it’s so short so the only team tactics were when my team-mate Sherilyn Powell shouted ‘Go Tilly!’

Tom Wright sets the pace for Bradley Worth in the Team Sprint

Tom Wright sets the pace for Bradley Worth in the Team Sprint

“This is one of my home shows so I build up to this every year.

“I’ve been racing here since 2010, formerly for Spalding, but now for BowlPhish Racing which is a women’s development team with a range of old-ish women riders.

“We’re focusing more on racing and getting more confident about riding in regional and development races.

“Grass track racing isn’t very big in England, compared to Scotland where it’s big at the Highland Games.

“At Heckington, everybody is so friendly and this year, I raced with Sian who I’ve known for years.”

Botteley said: “Heckington is the big one for grass track riders so we’re all super competitive and we really want to win.

“I’ve done it three times now and found it to be very different from the road sprints that I normally do.

“Before the 800m, we had a one-mile scrach race where I came round Jo at the last corner to win.

“I was hoping to do the same in the 800m, but I drew the inside lane and even though I got behind Jo, I just couldn’t get round her.

“All through the race, Jo was absolutely flying and she’s got such a good kick on her that even though I’m a better sprinter on the road, Jo can hold her kick and go all out on the track.

“But the most important thing is that Heckington is like a massive country show and there’s nothing that makes me feel more prouder than seeing these youngsters flying round the track.”

Off the bike, Spalding were also active with Suzy Bowser, who finished the 10-mile run in 1hr 38 minutes.