Monday, 17 October 2011

World Masters Track Championships 2011

Paul Caton took part in the World Masters Track Championships that were held at Manchester Velodrome over the second week in October and which attracted over 600 riders from all round the World with virtually every cycling nation represented.

Caton competed in the 50 to 54 age category of the points and scratch races held on the Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Due to the number of entrants each race had two qualifying heats held in the morning with the final in the evening.

"The heats were tough," recalls Caton. "Everyone wanted to make sure of a place in the final. If you have flown in from Australia you are going to be serious about making the final. I managed to get away with the eventual overall winner with 8 laps to go and we stayed clear until the end so I picked up enough points to easily qualify for the final. The final was really hard and was run off at 29mph average speed and to be honest I was hanging on for the first 30 of the 60 laps. I started to feel better for the second half and as the bunch started to fragment under the pressure I was always at the head of the race. Unfortunately I could not score any points as the sprint laps were hotly contested so had to settle for 14th overall which I was pleased with given the quality of the other riders."

The next day saw the qualifying on the scratch race and Caton just managed to squeeze into the final with a 10th place (first 12 qualified from 24 starters, the maximum allowed) as the pace was frenetic again with many continental riders wanting to make sure of a place in the final.

In the final, he again needed 20 laps of the 40 lap race to find his legs as tiredness after almost 2 days of hard competition were starting to show: "The race was very tactical; the bunch kept slowing and then accelerating to catch riders that had attacked." With 10 laps to go the bunch slowed again at the top of the track. Caton took his chance, dived for the sprinters line and took half a lap lead within a matter of a minute.

Do or die: Paul charges clear of the field in the World Championships Scratch Race - thanks to

"I was soon joined by two Argentinians and an Italian and we worked together to maintain our advantage,"he continues. Unfortunately, the peloton sensed the danger and had started a chase effort: "We had a good move going but the bunch was really working to bring us back." Holding on for dear life, Caton kept the pace up but with half a lap to go the sprinters thundered by. "I tried to jump on the train which was tough after working so hard in the break, but I managed to hang on for 10th."

Reflecting on a successful week, Caton adds "With every race I am starting to gain more confidence in my ability to compete at this level and also learning the unique race craft associated with indoor track racing."