The women’s omnium is a track cycling event consisting of six different races. The placing a rider achieves in each event is converted to points, and the rider with the fewest points at the end of the competition wins. The event has become very popular in women’s track cycling and was one of the highlights at the 2012 London Olympics. Last weekend our very own Women’s National Olympic Omnium was held at Sundrive Velodrome with Sundrive’s Susie Mitchell taking the overall win and with it the coveted National Champion’s jersey. We caught up with Susie for her account of the day’s racing:
Unfortunately, last year’s champion Caroline Ryan wasn’t able to make it due to training commitments but that opened up the field nicely for the rest of us! The start list of 11 riders included all ages and levels of experience, with Sundrive riders Deborah Madden, Kayleigh Gibbons, Emily Mahon and Aine McBride all making their Omnium debut. Day one started with the Flying 250, where Sara Gunn posted a PB time of 17.24 to take the first event. It was a tightly contested one with only about half a second separating the top four riders. I (Susie Mitchell) was second very closely followed by Orla Hendron and Roisin Kennedy.
The Points Race was up next and with 40 laps on the board it’s the longest race of the year for the women at Sundrive. The race was pretty aggressive with Adamstown rider Finola Lawlor attacking right from the start and taking the first 5 points of the day. There with several attacks and counter attacks every few laps, mostly by Roisin and Orla who repeatedly tried to get away but no one was being allowed up the road. Sundrive’s Aine McBride, a relative newcomer to the track but a very handy sprinter rode very strongly and brought back many of the attacks to keep the bunch together. As a result, it ended up with nearly all the points after Finola’s early breakaway being decided by bunch sprints. This suited myself (I won 7 of them!) and Orla and Aine were busy picking up points to get them second and third in the Points Race after me.
After a protracted rain break, it was up to the fence for the final race of the day – the Elimination Race. A blistering pace was set from the gun by Roisin and the race was aggressive and tactically ridden by all. Despite this being my favourite bunch race of the Omnium, I found myself in a very bad position in the early stages and nearly went out, just pipping my clubmate Emily Mahon on the line and then hung in there to win, followed by Sara Gunn with Roisin taking third. Then it was home to try and recover after Day 1. I was happy going into Day 2 as I was in a great position with a few points separating me and the rest of the ladies to give me some breathing space.
We started day 2 with the 3km Individual Pursuit. The weather was turning a bit against us and rain was threatening but we managed to get our pursuits done before it started coming down, putting a halt to proceedings. Due to the wind, I decided to ride a smaller gear than normal, and this tactic paid off in spades for me – I won the pursuit and smashed my PB by 4 seconds (I rode a 4.09)! I was delighted. Roisin was next fastest after me, followed by Orla.
The Scratch Race was next and it was all to play for on the podium, with Sara, Orla, Roisin and Aine all in a good position to potentially medal should the results go their way. An attack came from Roisin Kennedy about midway through the race and she managed to get a gap and rode hard to for the rest of the race to take 1st. Meanwhile back in the bunch Orla was attacking repeatedly but couldn’t shake off Sara Gunn. Coming into the last lap the sprint opened up and I put my foot down to take it, followed by Orla for all her efforts and Aine behind her.
This meant all was to play for by the time the 500TT rolled around. The sun had come out and the wind had dropped so we were set to do some good times. Sara Gunn rode a savage PB with the fastest time of the day (39.41) with myself behind her (39.72) followed by Orla (42.97) in third.
I was delighted to win the Omnium with a total of 9 points but there was a more interesting battle for the silver – both Orla and Sara had finished on 18 points apiece! When this is the case the medal is decided by the addition of the times for the three time trial events (the 250, the pursuit and the 500). The final tally went Orla’s way with her total being 5:25.02 Vs Sara’s 5:25:80! Both girls were happy with the final result.
A great two days racing was had by all. Hopefully we can come back and do it all again next year. It’s a great National event for women of all levels to enter as you get a chance to try everything and lay down some benchmark times for the season. I hope my report will inspire as many women to make the start line as possible next year!
Photos Courtesy of Adamstown CC.