FREQUENT trips to Manchester to race and train at the National Cycling Centre paid dividends for Ben Chapman at the weekend as the Bradwell youngster won the Youth Madison Championship after a nail-biting final few laps.
The 16-year-old Team Corley Cycles – Blue rider has been a member of British Cycling’s Talent Team in 2012, but by his own admission, has not really shown the consistency he had hoped for – that is until he paired with up Reading’s Max Stedman on Saturday to end his season in style.
After what Chapman described as a “dodgy” qualifying round in which the duo finished in 4th place after clashing together, the sheepish Denbigh School pupil played a starring role in the 20km final.
With sprint points on offer every 5kms, Chapman won both the second and final charge, with Max sweeping up points on two occasions as well. But so close was the race that going into the final lap the top three pairs were covered by just one point, so Chapman’s final sprint win was essential if they were to take the championship honours.
On the final 250 metre lap, Chapman pulled back a dangerous attack and was then able to hold off the surging bunch of 11 other pairings for the definitive sprint of the race.
“This is awesome,” said an obviously delighted Chapman, pictured above in the yellow helmet.
“We’d also won the Madison in the Inter-Regional Track Championships in Newport Velodrome riding for the Central Region two weeks ago, so I knew we had it in us to win the Nationals.
“Max is a great team player and we obviously work well together.”
Chapman’s season has not been helped by a bout of illness that took out most of the middle part of his racing season, but in the last six weeks he’s been coming back into form, and so although this was a National Championship win, he is not sure if it was the best result of the year.
“Having the jersey is a great feeling,” he said. “A few weeks ago I went to Belgium with John Barclay and won a kermesse.
“In the race on the Saturday I had a puncture so that took me out of that race, but it all came good on the Sunday.”
That was a typical 60km Belgian affair at Hooglede near Kortrijk and winning that was, in his own words, a real blast.
When reminded that Barclay is renown for encouraging younger riders and regularly taking talent to develop their skills in the cut and thrust of Belgian racing, Chapman acknowledged the role John has played in helping other British riders.
“I know that John took Ian Stannard and Mark Cavendish to race in Belgium along with many other top British riders so to be a part of that programme is really awesome,” he said.
Ben was helped by Team Corley Cycles’ Sean Dines at the start of 2012 before he was on the Talent Team Programme, and Dines has been impressed with the way the youngster has developed throughout the year.
“I went out regularly with Ben during the pre-season months, making sure he took part in plenty of the Team Corley structured rides and his development on a week-by-week basis was impressive and to say the least, he was coming on in leaps and bounds,” he said.
“Ben is clearly a talent and he’s now showing that on both the track and the road. I’m seriously impressed and we genuinely think he’s The Proper Article. I know many local riders are dreading going out with him this winter.”