2002 Australian Madison Championship & Maurie Cramer Wheelrace

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, March 16, 2002

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McGee, Brooks win Australian Madison Championship

By Karen Forman in Melbourne

The Australian Open Madison Championship for 2002 has stayed at home in Australia following a super fast, super competitive, war involving riders from six countries, at Melbourne's Vodafone Arena tonight.

Despite tough competition from a team from the USA and riders from Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong and Japan, the title went to two Aussies - former professionals Rodney McGee and Ben Brooks, both now on the comeback trail after time out of the sport.

It was the perfect launching pad for their respective bids to make it back to the top - McGee wants to make the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games, while Brooks will ride in Europe this season with a Belgium amateur team.

The decisive moment in the 50km, 200 lap race came when McGee, 28 now riding with and managing the newly formed Sydney-based Francoise Des Jeux Australian squad and Brooks, 23 who leaves Sydney on Monday to join a Belgium amateur road team, grabbed a lap with 61 to go.

Until then, they had been travelling along in fourth place on points - between 10 and 14 behind the three leading teams - Sydney 2000 Olympics madison gold medallist Brett Aitken and 2002 Austral wheel race winner Darren Young, United States madison champion Jame Carney and compatriot Mike Tillman and 2001 champion Mark Renshaw and former world madison champion Erik Weispfennig from Germany - who were separated only by a point or two.

Despite an eleventh-hour bid by Carney to take a lap of his own, sprinting out of the second last sprint to win the final sprint, the gold medals, green and gold-striped Australian champion jersey and Ron Webb Trophy - a perpetual trophy devised and donated by Cyclists International in honour of Australian Ron Web, who had a successful racing career in madisons, six-days and motor paced events in Europe and the United Kingdom and is now a leading velodrome designer-builder (including the Vodafone Arena) based in London - went to McGee and Brooks.

Aitken and Young were second with 55 points (but down a lap), Carney and Tillman were third with 52 (and down a lap) and Renshaw, second in Australia's richest and crowd-attracting madison at Bendigo last week, and Weispfennig, were fourth, just a point behind.

On the podium later, Brooks, 23, who had an enforced six month break when the high profile Linda McCartney team fell apart due to lack of sponsorship last year, admitted, that trailing in fourth spot on points, he had been worried that they would not get up in time.

McGee, however, said he had told Brooks to be patient and let the other teams wear themselves out, then try to take a lap. "We could see what was happening; we knew there would be three teams vying for points and that we had to get more points," he said. "We just had to be patient."

He conceded it was difficult, mentally, to sit back and wait for the right moment, but said in the end, his caution had paid off.

The event was, without a doubt, one of, if not the most exciting madisons of the 2001-02 Australian track season.

The action during the 200 lap race was continuous and the pace relentless thanks to a full complement of 20 sprints including a memorial sprint to Cyclists International president, Don McBane, who died tragically two weeks ago, following a heart attack.

It was obvious from the gun that the race would go down to one of the four top teams. Aitken and Young were sprinting like crazy to establish an early lead with Carney and Tillman a close second.

Luke Roberts and Mike Tillman touched wheels and fell but returned to the race, with the latter not looking too happy.

With the action continuous, the halfway mark came very quickly. Aitken and Young were leading with 35 points, but only just ahead of Weispfennig and Renshaw with 24 points and Carney and Tillman with 23 points. At this stage, Brooks and McGee were well back in fourth.

But then, seemingly all of a sudden, they got their lap and the future of the event was decided.

Young took out the second last sprint of the night and slowed up a bit - but Carney kept going, attacking off the front with nine laps to go, giving him a big advantage to the final sprint. It was too late to get a lap of his own and put Brooks and McGee out of contention, but it gave him the points to collect the bronze medal for the USA.

On the podium, CycleSport Victoria and Cyclists International president, Joe Ciavola, praised all riders for a "top race." He said McGee and Brooks had worked hard for the win, but "that's what cycling is all about".

McGee, 28, a father of three who fell away from the sport after winning the 1995 world team pursuit championship in Bogota with Stuart O'Grady, Tim O'Shannessy and his brother Bradley, said the Australian madison championship had always been one of his aspirations and was the perfecting launching pad for his bid to get onto the national team this year.

"I tried to come back a couple of years ago but was not sensible about it," he said. "This time I am doing it right. I think racing awfully two years ago helped me win tonight . . . although I couldn't put it down to one thing. Basically I was just feeling good."

It is a big boost for the Francoise de Jeaux team . . . it has been a long time since I won a national title."

He said, however, he did not see a return to the Euro peleton for him.

"I have a job with the NSW Institute of Sport and am managing the FDJ team, plus I have a family of three young children, so I definitely am not looking at months overseas," he said.

"I will just take it a week at a time and see how I go."

Likewise, Brooks, 23, who had an enforced six month break when the high profile Linda McCartney team fell apart due to lack of sponsorship last year, is not setting his ambitious too high.

"I had six months out after Linda McCartney folded and then, when I started riding again, I realised how much I wanted it," he said,

"I am going to Belgium on Monday to join an amateur team which has a few Aussies in it, called Team Downunder, and I will give myself every opportunity . . . step by step for the next few months."

. . . While last year's madison winner takes the wheel race

The 50km madison was one of three main events on the night organised by Melbourne-based Cyclists International, attended by a smaller than usual (perhaps due to competition from Melbourne Storm versus Canberra raiders football next door) but very enthusiastic crowd.

CI has managed to generate a European six-day atmosphere with the tight, steep board track making for fast cycling action, an infield bar providing a meeting place for the fans and an infield dining area on a raised platform providing a forum for sponsors et all. . . plus music, constant action, informative non-stop commentary . . .

The Cecil Walker Cycles Maurie Cramer Memorial Wheelrace was a novel event . . . raced as a six- lap group handicap. It was fast, exciting and over almost before it began! Three groups of six riding off scratch, off 60 metres and off 110m made for what announcer Stewart Doyle dubbed "a real bike race".

Mark Renshaw, despite bidding for a second Australian Madison title later in the night, didn't hold back. He and American Jame Carne rode from scratch with German Erik Weispfennig, Rodney McGee, Ben Farmer and Nicolas Sanderson, had the limit markers in their sights within two laps, and then were sprinting each other off the bell.

"It was a great race, a great form of race which was really good for spectators," Renshaw said after he beat Carne and Matthew Heath.

"We sat down and worked it out before the race the best we could, tried to set it up best. But I didn't think we would get up that easy…it wasn't until two to go I realised we had them."

Renshaw said he would now start "real training" for the nationals, where he is aiming for the individual pursuit, teams pursuit and points race. After that are the Oceania Games, the Sydney World Cup and hopefully the Commonwealth Games. "Like all riders I would like to represent Australia at the Olympics and eventually turn pro on the road," he said.

As if the handicap itself wasn't interesting enough, Cyclists International dreamed up a novel qualification process. Wheel race contenders were chosen from three qualifying events - the Jarvis Walker Scratch Race, the Australian Abalone Exports Scratch Race and the Forges Stores Aces Elimination.

The first scratch was won by Brunswick rider Peter Triag in 6.30.04, The second was won in a considerably quicker time of 6.08.925 by teenaged Castlemaine rider Sean Finning, a very mature rider for his age with a promising future.

The third qualifier was an elimination and it well and truly sorted the riders out. Despite being packed with top international names, the win went to Renshaw, with Leongatha wheel race and Melbourne Cup on Wheels winner Nicholas Sanderson second.

Brett Aitken was pulled out, much to his upset, at the three minute mark, Austral winner Darren Young was out at five minutes , USA rider Mike Tillman was out at 5.36 , Japanese Kouji Yoshii was out at 3.58 minutes.

. . . and also the keirin

Always a popular crowd event, the Aces Keirin final again pitted the best against the best.

Footscray rider Joel Leonard's first heat win was in doubt when commissaires questioned riding during the race. He was allowed to keep his win but fined heavily. He went through to the final with NSW rider Stephen Wooldridge.

In the second heat, Todd Wilksch from Bendigo and USA rider Mike Tillman went through (German champ Erik Weispfennig missed out). USA rider Jame Carney took the third heat and went through with Renshaw of NSW, who went on to win the final ahead of Joel Leonard and Stephen Wooldridge in 11.350 - faster than any of the heats.

... and Bayley dominates women's events

Due to a tight program dominated by the madison, there were only two women's events, but both were dominated by Kristine Bayley, sister of the notably absent world keirin champion Ryan Bayley.

West Australian Bayley has been based in Melbourne for the duration of the 2001-2002 track season and has been impressing with a string of top performances.

The 18 year old has been consistently beating comeback rider Narelle Peterson and giving Olympian Michelle Ferris a run for her money at various events. Like her brother, she has a quick, powerful sprint and will be one to watch at the Australian national championships next month.

On Saturday night, she won the 12 lap scratch race in a brilliant ride from comeback rider Narelle Peterson of Coburg and Sally Robins of Broadford and then beat Peterson again in the women- w19 motorpace.


Photos by Justin Britt

Photos by Karen Forman

Full results

1 Jarvis Walker Scratch Race
20 laps
1 Peter Trigar (Brunswick)            6.30.041 
2 Glen Hutchinson (Footscray)
3 Graeme O'Neill (Ararat)
4 Laurie Noonan (Brunswick)
5 Colin Morris (Footscray)
6 Ian Smith (Carnegie)

2 Australian Abalone Exports Scratch Race
20 laps (First six qualify for wheel race)
1 Sean Finning (Castlemaine)          6.08.925
2 Simon Barnett (Horsham)
3 Matthew Heath (Footscray)
4 Andrew Rix (Bendigo)
5 Richard England (St Kilda)
6 Dean Taylor (Ballarat)

3 Forges Stores Aces Elimination
20 laps (First six qualify for wheelrace)
1  Mark Renshaw (NSW)                 6.52.741
2 Nicolas Sanderson (Ararat)
3 Erik Weispfennig (Germany)
4 Jame Carney (USA)
5 Rod McGee (NSW)
6 Matthew Farmer (NSW)

4 Agosta Transport Invitational M17 Motorpace
10 laps
1 Shane Perkins (Carnegie)            3.18.543
2 Michael Ford (Carnegie)
3 Mitchell Docker (Brunswick)
4 Patrick Shaw (Ballarat)

5 Cecil Walker Cycles Maurie Cramer Memorial Wheelrace Final
six laps
1 Mark Renshaw                        1.34.587
2 Jame Carney
3 Matthew Heath
4 Glenn Hutchinson

6 Artech women's scratch race
12 laps
1 Kristine Bayley (Western Australia) 4.10.311
2 Narelle Peterson (Coburg)
3 Sally Robins (Broadford Seymour)
4 Tiffany Godfrey (Geelong West)

7 Abel Painting Aces Keirin
six laps
Heat one
1 Joel Leonard (Footscray)              11.468
2 Stephen Wooldridge (NSW)
3 Brett Aitken (South Australia)

Heat two
1 Todd Wilksch (Bendigo)                11.718
2 Mke Tillman (USA)
3 Danny Rutherford 

Heat three
1 Jame Carney (USA)                     11.798
2 Mark Renshaw (NSW)
3 Matthew Farmer (NSW)

8 Dimmey's Stores Points Race
20 laps
1 Jamie Goddard (Blackburn)           6.23.372   12 pts
2 Peter Trigar (Brunswick)                        8
3 Laurie Noonan (Brunswick)                       7
4 Jerard Glennon (Warrnambool)                    5

9 John Beasley Cycles Elimination
1 Rod McGee (NSW)                     5.49.750
2 Jonny Clarke (Carnegie)
3 Peter Dawson (WA)
4 Matthew Heath (Footscray)

10. Able Painting Services Aces Keirin Final
six laps
1 Mark Renshaw                          11.350
2 Joel Leonard
3 Stephen Wooldridge

11. Bike Technologies Women-W19 motorpace
10 laps
1 Kristine Bayley (WA)                3.24.073
2 Narelle Peterson (Coburg)
3 Tiffany Godfrey (Geelong West)

12. Toll Logistics Invitational M17 Elimination
10 laps
1 Shane Perkins (Carnegie)            2.27.497
2 Michael Ford (Carnegie)
3 Patrick Shaw (Ballarat)
4 Simon Clarke (Carnegie)

13. Australian Madison Championship
1 Rodney McGee/Ben Brooks                   19 

1 lap behind

2 Brett Aitken/Darren Young                 55
3 Jame Carney/Mike Tillman                  52
4 Mark Renshaw/Erik Weispennig              51