This week was the last chance for all King of The Bowl hopefuls to score any points towards the series standings. While the King has now mathematically been crowned, Jake Hales of Spirit Tifosi Race Team winning for the 6th year in a row, the other podium places were still up for grabs. Before the start of this week VeloElite RT rider Gavin Howell sat second overall with 69 points, Shutt Ridley RT's Gareth Harvey was third with 67 points and Will Scott of Flamme Rouge RT sat fourth with 60. Each week at The Bowl there are 10 points on offer so it was a nervous Harvey that lined up for an expected tactical showdown.
As the race began it was clear the Hales was relaxed about the race and happy for riders to go clear. It was Howell, Harvey and Scott that marked moves, attempted to initiate breaks and watch each other closely. After around twenty minutes three riders broke clear. James Chapman of PB Performance Coaching RT, Clay Davies of Verulam - reallymoving RT and crucially Matt Exley who is a team-mate of Will Scott at Flamme Rouge RT. These three quickly took a thirty second advantage as the group behind waited for Howell, Scott and Harvey to move.
This break animated Harvey who sensed an opportunity to bridge to an established group, he was however closely marked. Eventually Team Bottrill rider Ollie Bates moved off the front of the group and initiated a counter attack. As he checked the response Bates saw no-one following and sat up to wait for another opportunity. It is hard work bridging a gap on your own and clearly even though he is capable, Bates didn't fancy it.
Harvey looked around for his rivals and saw Scott and Howell in the middle of the pack, seeing his opportunity the Shutt rider pressed on as inconspicuously as possible.
Calling to Bates as he moved clear the pair then worked together. Behind Scott and Howell watched each other and hesitated. It was enough for Harvey and Bates to ease away and establish a counter attack. The going was tough for Harvey as he and Bates set about chasing the initial break and after ten minutes of hard riding formed a five man group at the head of the race.
There was no plain sailing however as Matt Exley played a sensible team role and refused to work hoping his team-mate could chase over. This left four riders working to stay away and take the race. Harvey was delighted with the state of affairs as neither of his rivals were in the group he knew if he could just beat one rider in the breakaway at the finish he would secure second overall in the King of The Bowl series. Obviously Will Scott had other plans as he and King Hales set up their own chase...
The gap between Harvey's group and the pair of Scott and Hales fluctuated as all of the rider gave this final round everything they had. Into the final lap Harvey's group held on to a twenty second gap and had the opportunity to race for the win. Tactics held until the end as all of Harvey's group knew he needed to keep holding the gap to Scott so it was Harvey himself who led out the final lap. In the sprint Harvey powered up the ramp to the finish with Bates hot on his heels. In the end the fatigue told with Bates winning the sprint by half a bike length, Harvey took second place on the night with Exley in third.
It is enough to put Harvey up to second on the night with Howell securing third. Next weeks race will see the podium presentation and a culmination of a strong season for Harvey.
In the 3/4 cat race Souter, Beechey and Munday all finished strongly with Souter avoiding punctures and taking 6th place, Beechey taking 9th and Munday finishing strong despite being distanced by the bunch.