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Rapha Roller Race International Series
RESULTS NOW IN
Saturday 19th April, London
A sellout crowd packed into the Imbibe bar in Central London last Saturday as more than 70 riders lined up for the first leg of the Rapha Roller Race International Series. With rising track star and reigning world junior team sprint champion Pete Mitchell among the favourites, the prospect of records tumbling was good and the capacity audience didn’t leave disappointed.
The once popular spectacle of roller racing, in which two riders take to a stage to do battle on a pair of vintage rollers, has enjoyed a healthy revival in recent years and following the hugely successful Rapha roller races — two in London and one in Portland in the USA — Saturday’s event drew teams from across London’s cycling community. Lining up alongside the traditionally strong contingent of cycle messengers were teams made up of bankers, media types and, for the first time, those from London cycling clubs, whose members turned up in numbers to lend highly vocal support.
Of the 12 men’s and 4 women’s teams vying for the title of “King and Queen of the Rollers”, a first appearance for the clubs ensured competition was fierce from the start. As early as the qualifying rounds, no fewer than seven riders posted times below 21secs for the 500m distance. Mitchell’s qualifying time, 19.78secs, proved not only the best time of the evening but was also good enough to beat the 19.80secs set by Simon Jackson at the inaugural Rapha Roller Race held last November.
An increasingly electric atmosphere was given additional spark by the presence of Nicole Smith and Jai Simone, two burlesque ring-card girls who, with the considerable help of a freely flowing bar, kept the crowd entertained and informed about proceedings. By the knockout stages there was little to separate the leading riders but in the end it was La Fuga’s Ian Holt and Mitchell, representing Team Terminator, who battled through to the final. With the distance raised to 1000m, both men gave their all but by the 500m mark, Mitchell had begun to gain the upper hand. With Holt unable to cut into his lead, Mitchell duly went on to claim victory. Crowned alongside him in the women’s competition was a newcomer, Agata, representing the Trixie Chicks, and who grabbed victory with Kimberly Kabatoff, the London Dynamo club rider, hot on her heels.
The overall team prizes went to the Fireflies and La Fuga, in the women’s and men’s competitions respectively. The open ‘Have-a-Go’ competition, which ran concurrently with the team event and in which 38 rookies tested themselves on the rollers, was won by Janky James of Rollapaluza CC and Rachel. The ‘Best Dressed Team” prize went to the Banker team, who showed up in full City attire, including bowler hats, shirts and ties.
Bill Chidley, the messenger legend who, along with Patrick Field co-compared the evening with such aplomb, described the night as “the biggest and most successful rock n’ roller extravaganza yet”. Special thanks go to Bill and Patrick as well as the Rollapaluza crew for directing the racing in typically smooth manner. Thanks also goes to The Classic Car Club for sponsoring first prize for the Fireflies raffle, proceeds from which will be donated to the leukaemia charity, Leuka.
Some limited edition, collectable Rapha Roller Race caps are still available at £10. Date marked with the London event inside the peak. Information on the next round of the Rapha Roller Race International Series will be posted when dates and venues are confirmed, please sign up to our newsletter to be notified of developments.
Photos by Jocelyn Low