First Edition Cycling News extra for January 4, 2007
Response to Christmas Carnivals Comment
A recent story in Tasmanian newspaper, The
Advocate, on Wednesday, January 3, 2007, was highly critical of
the handicapping at the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals, recently held on
Australia's 'Apple Isle'. This is the response to that article - and other
criticism of the handicaps this year - from the man in the centre of the
As the appointed senior track handicapper for the 2006-07 Tasmanian carnivals
season, I would like to respond to the following claims, as asserted by
Of the original 106 entries for the Christmas series, eight riders were
afforded the prestige mark of scratch. A further 17 riders were allocated
handicaps which allocated them A Grade status. West Australian Cameron
Meyer was adjusted to scratch after three days of racing.
This was offset by the loss of scratchman Mark Jamieson through illness
after the Boxing Day Carnival. No previous handicapper - the current handicapper
- and I would imagine no future handicapper would accept responsibility
for the form, riders bring to the carnivals.
Handicaps are adjudged on "score on the board". The majority of
previous handicappers - and the current handicapper - have drawn heats
up allowing for an individual rider to "chase down" 10 metres over a 1000
metre race. If it is a 2000 metre race or 3000 metre race, riders are
then placed alongside - or near - riders of similar ilk to compete on
reasonable distance gaps.
The Advocate's author would do well to remember that the major
races that the media and some spectators are interested in are handicap
events, therefore every rider must be given an even chance of winning,
not just the elite scratchmen. It is not all about scratchmen winning
the major races and the middle-to-front markers simply making up a support
cast. If this was the case, the carnivals would attract nothing more than
an elite cast of 20 riders.
I defend my allocation of handicaps and heats with the following FACTS
(as proven by events of the 2006-07 series):
Scratchman Ben Kersten is second on Cycling Tasmania's Order of Merit
prizemoney list with earnings of $7715, behind only Jayden Veljacich,
who won the Latrobe Wheel, which has the biggest purse of all events;
Scratchman Nathan Clarke is fourth on the OOM;
Scratchman Cameron Meyer is sixth on the OOM;
Scratchman Leigh Howard is 14th on the OOM.
Other A Grade riders to placed inside the top 25 of the OOM include
Glenn O'Shea (10th), Adrian Hanson (11th), Tom Robinson (12th), Travis
Meyer (17th), James Langedyk (18th), Evan Oliphant (20th), Jack Bobridge
(21st) and Scott Sunderland (22nd). These OOM figures have been on display
at all carnivals for riders and the general public and members of the
media, to see.
B Grade riders such as Duane Johannson (West Australia), John Rayner,
Tom Robinson, Clay Murfett and Aaron Jones approached the handicapper
and asked for a reduction in handicap because they felt their marks were
too lenient and wanted to race towards the back of the fields in handicap
races. Three of those mentioned also wanted to compete in the A Grade
Latrobe Wheel winner Jayden Veljacich was re-handicapped after small
success at the Rosebery Carnival and did not ride off the mark as highlighted
in Tapp's top 10 performances. Can Tapp produce documentation of Veljacich's
previous victories to warrant any other mark?
Since when did handicap races become a benefit for scratchmen? If you
want to see a scratchman win every race, watch the scratch races, but
even then the out-of-form elite riders were upstaged by the talented crop
of youngsters on offer. The negative press from selected A Grade scratch
races, highlighted some reporters' ignorance of the sport. Where was the
positive reaction to the outstanding performances of Adrian Hanson (8000
m at Latrobe), Cameron Meyer (16,000 m at Latrobe and Burnie), Travis
Meyer (Launceston) and Leigh Howard (8000 m & 16,000 m double at Devonport)?
Perhaps the baton of the elite scratch riders has already been passed
from the likes of Carney and Young to Howard and Meyer? No mention in
The Advocate of the A Grade Scratch race at the Launceston Silverdome,
or for that matter, any other race in Launceston either.
The Advocate would also do well to realize that Ben Kersten, Joel
Leonard, Jobie Dajka and Scott Sunderland are sprinting specialists and
not suited to long distance scratch races, but as contracted riders are
expected to compete in those events.
The carnivals also suffered the sickness of Mark Jamieson after Latrobe,
leaving us one scratchman short for the bulk of the week. I spoke to ALL
scratchman throughout the carnivals and not one of them complained of
their marks to me personally, whilst all agreed the quality of the middle
markers was above expectations.
In my opinion, Ben Kersten, Nathan Clarke, Leigh Howard and Cameron Meyer
were the pick of the scratchmen for the 2006-07 Christmas Carnivals. Of
Jame Carney: Looked pre-occupied with coaching fellow Americans - Shane
Kline and Erica Allar. Recently turned 38 but still managed 37th on the
Order of Merit;
Joel Leonard: Good in the sprints, but looked unsuited in the longer events.
Is currently 27th on the Order of Merit;
Mark Jamieson: Fell ill, produced a doctor's certificate and did not race
after first day of Latrobe Carnival;
Stephen Rossendell: Looked underdone and ended up being a "workhorse"
for other riders. He did however make the 2000 metre and 3000 metre handicap
finals at Burnie on New Year's Day;
Darren Young: Similar to Rossendell and perhaps he is on the wrong side
of 30, but still made the handicap final of the Burnie Wheel.
Five scratchmen - plus Jack Bobridge (off 15 metres) - all qualified
for the 2007 Burnie Wheel - the same equation as the 2005 wheel - but
failed to win.
I am more than happy to wear criticism from people with credibility within
cycling and so far, there has been none forthcoming.
Senior Track Handicapper
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