CYCLING: Witham Wheeler Robert enjoys good night on the boards

Robert McAndrew (third from left) on track at Derby Velodrome.
Robert McAndrew (third from left) on track at Derby Velodrome.
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Witham Wheeler junior Robert McAndrew enjoyed his best night so far in the Derby Track League.

This was his fourth night at the league and though the first week’s session had been marred by a serious crash, Robert showed his resilience to return to the track and has progressed well, with last Tuesday night’s event being his most improved so far.

First up was the 20-lap scratch race. Unfortunately, due to arriving late because of heavy traffic, Robert did not get the best warm-up but still managed a creditable ninth out of 25 riders.

Next was the eight-lap gallop, a very fast race in which Robert attacked with two laps to go. With one rider on his wheel, he managed to gap the bunch by four bike lengths and, holding the sprinter’s line, he attacked again on the last bend and came out of the corner as the clear winner.

The elimination race saw Robert ride tactically for the first half of the race, sitting in the middle of the bunch. When numbers were reduced to eight riders, he used his fast turn of speed to stay out of trouble near the front. Once down to just two riders on the last lap, he pushed to the finish, outsprinting his rival for victory.

The last race of the night was the 40-lap scratch race so, with tired legs from his previous wins, Robert dug deep and stayed out of trouble in the front half of the bunch, covering any attacks.

With three laps remaining, Robert went on the attack with another rider, gapping the field by quite a few bike lengths. Unfortunately, his earlier efforts told on his legs and in the final sprint for the finish the pair were caught by another rider, but Robert still managed to hold on to a creditable third place.

All in all it was a good nights racing, resulting in a top five place in the league, an incredible feat for a 16-year-old racing against many more experienced riders.