by Meryl Hanmer
Wednesday 18th April saw Swansea’s cycling team secure our first point towards the overall Varsity shield. Lead by men’s captain Kacper Gorski and women’s captain Izzy Whiteley, Swansea’s cycling team rode to overall victory and their fifth consecutive Varsity win against Cardiff.
For the first time, Swansea was fortunate to host a home competition for the cycling thanks to the new outdoor velodrome track in Carmarthen which opened late in 2017. The Varsity event was well promoted in the area and as a result many members of the local community came to show their support and help cheer on both the Swansea and Cardiff teams. Swansea’s team captain had this to say about using the new facilities, “it’s great to have such a fantastic new track at our finger tips and having the competition away from Cardiff makes a nice change. The local people were pleased to see the track being utilised, everyone was very friendly and overall they helped to create a positive atmosphere for the day”. Kacper also wanted to thank Laura Haf Jones, who was the one responsible for allowing use of the velodrome, “any little issues she was there to help straight away, without her it could not have worked so well”.
There were ten events in total: men’s elimination, points race, women’s elimination, men’s kilo, women’s team pursuit, men’s individual pursuit, women’s kilo, men’s team pursuit, women’s scratch and men’s scratch. Despite fierce competition from the Cardiff rivals, Swansea demonstrated great skill, tact and fitness which ultimately led to a clean sweep of confident victories in each of the ten events.
In response to the definitive wins and extensive effort of his team, Kacper has nominated three players who stood out to him on the day. Firstly, his star player for the men’s team was Mathew Fratesi for his sheer determination and admirable sportsman behaviour. During the first event Mathew suffered a horrendous fall, but still got back up and put in a strong performance to eventually come second after gifting his win to his team mate. Kacper’s star player in the women’s team was undeniably Caitlin Bower who rode exceptionally all day, winning all bar one of her events of the day. What makes her success even more credible is the fact that she is not typically a road rider but instead a triathlete; “her performance was effortless and her fitness on form, at no point did she ever look fatigued”. Finally, it is George Batchelor who is awarded commendation for his debut Varsity performance. Despite initial doubts about his experience, his fitness prevailed and “he rode excellently throughout the day, he did everything that was asked of him and in the final race, he attacked Cardiff the whole time to eventually wear them down”.
Finally, the entire Swansea team wanted to offer an applause to the Cardiff team for their strength of mind and character in the final event, the men’s scratch. “They rode with heart and it was a tiring race which they fought hard for throughout”.
Overall, a fantastic event which was well run by the Swansea team and their amazing result means Swansea gain an early lead over the Cardiff rivals.