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Junior Austral Wheelrace

Joe Ciavola Velodrome, DISC, Melbourne, February 23, 2008

Melbourne track racing keeps growing

By Mal Sawford

A new addition to Melbourne’s thriving track calendar, the Junior Austral Wheelrace was designed by CotterPin, the promoters of the Revolution track series in Australia, to give junior riders a taste of the atmosphere they can expect when they hit senior ranks.

The concept brought a strong field of riders from across Victoria, and also attracted strong squads from Tasmania and the National Talent Identification Program’s sprint program.

The feature race of the night was the Junior Austral, a 2000 metre handicap for Under 17 and Under 19 men, with all riders limited to a 48 x 15 gear. Michael Downing (Beasley Cycles), who competed in the 2007’s 109th Austral, won the final ahead of Luke Ockerby (TIS/cyclingnews) and George Tansley (Decked Out Coaching).

Downing has just turned 18, and is the younger brother of Tess Downing, who dominated Australian road and track championships as a junior and medaled at the 2006 junior worlds in Belgium. Tess’ swish race wheels – a Mavic Io and Comete combo - found their way onto Michael’s machine. “She’s in Adelaide this week so she’s not here to know that I’ve got them!” The Junior Austral was actually Downing’s first track race of the summer, but he has clearly built good form on a diet of twice weekly criteriums. He will return to the boards next weekend for the Sid Patterson Grand Prix, then “I’ll go to Bendigo. I won’t do the track there, just the crit, then the Austral in a couple of weeks. I finished 4th or 5th last year behind a very, very fast Joel Stewart and I wouldn’t mind doing the senior and junior Austral double now!” Former junior world champion Shane Perkins was a special guest on the night and made a couple of future star’s nights when he helped out as a ‘pusher’ in their handicap races. Perkins is fighting for a place in the Australian team for Beijing, and when asked if the Australian selectors had told him what he needed to do to guarantee his spot at the Olympics, replied that they’d him to “perform at the World Titles and you’ve got the spot.” How it unfolded 21 riders lined up for the eight lap final, having qualified through a round of heats. Will Thomas was the lone outmarker at 230 metres, with a 60 metre advantage over Joshua Ferrie. The majority of the bunch were concentrated between 140 and 60 metres ahead of Ben Sanders (Jayco VIS), the sole scratchman; although Sanders had the TIS/cyclingnews pair of Luke Ockerby and Samuel Brett just 10 metres ahead.

Thomas started strongly, and put distance into the middle markers in the early laps. With five laps to travel, he lead the bunch by 80 metres as the three back markers, together with Madison Hammond (Terry Hammond Cycles) reached the tail of the main bunch.

250 metres later, the lanky youngster still led by 60 metres and looked comfortable, and had given up only 10 more metres when he crossed the line at three to go. The Tasmanian pair led the back markers charge through the traffic towards the front of the chasing pack, with the increase in tempo halving Thomas’ advantage.

Thomas was finally swallowed up a lap and a half from home when Tansley hit the front, closely followed by Downing. Ockerby, who had shown devastating speed in an earlier motor pace, made his move at the bell, and drew level with Downing in the back straight, but could not respond as Downing unleashed his own finishing kick to storm to the line a length clear. “I saw Luke Ockerby win earlier, and I know how good he is – I’ve raced him before,” the winner said. “I was watching for him and when I saw him coming I just kicked out and went.” Other races Stand out performances on the night also came from Amy Cure and Ben Sanders.

Cure dominated the Under 17 women’s racing, winning both the progressive points and scratch races with huge attacks in the closing laps. She was also too strong in the combined women’s handicap, riding off scratch with Under 19 riders Carly McCoombe and Shannon McCurley, and outsprinting McCoombe and Kendelle Hodges in the dash to the line.

Cure has her sights set on Australian selection too. “I want to represent Australia one day, maybe in the junior worlds. I like road and track, but I’ve got more results on the track.” The colourful youngster is clearly well accustomed to taking on older riders back home in Tasmania, recording a number of podium finishes in the 2006 Christmas Carnival series behind riders of the caliber of Laura McCaughey and New Zealand’s Liz Williams.

Sanders is one of two Victorians selected for the junior worlds in South Africa and is known primarily for his sprinting and kilo prowess. After his fourth place finish in the Junior Austral, barely ten minutes later he was back on the track to contest a Keirin field which included three team mates from the talent ID program.

None of the trio could match his kick in the final lap however, and he led Toby Dite and Trevor Griffiths home in a powerful display. After another brief few minutes on the rollers, he was in action again for the final race of the night, a 20 lap scratch race. Silas Fisher took off just past the half way mark and pulled nearly half a lap clear, and it looked as though Sanders and the other sprinters were well beaten.

Griffiths, the second Victorian in the junior world’s team, charged after Fisher in the final laps, but as the early attacker faded and Griffiths closed in, Sanders shot past both to take a well timed win.

In the Under 15 age group, Evan Hull and Thomas Thornton shared the honours. Hull took the opening points race by a narrow margin, but the more powerfully built Thorson was too strong in the scratch race. Thorson rode from scratch in their handicap, giving up 10 metres to Hull, but at the end of the four lap dash it was the diminutive Hull who broke the tie with a good win.

The Under 15 women’s races also saw a two way battle, between Bendigo club mates Imogen Jelbart and Antonia Abbisogni. Abbisogni opened her night with a win in the scratch race, but Jelbart took the handicap with a strong ride from the scratch mark. Only a point separated the pair in the points race, with Abbisogni coming from behind to win the final sprint.


Boys/Girls J13 B Grade Scratch
1 Pierce Conner (Blackburn)                         
2 James Pane (Brunswick)                            
3 Andrew McIntosh (Bendigo)                         
Boys/Girls J13 A Grade Scratch
1 Joshua Liston (Ballarat/Sebastapol)               
2 Thomas Verleys-Donk (Carnegie Caulfield)          
3 Braeden Dean (Bendigo)                            
Women J15 Scratch
1 Antonia Abbisogni (Bendigo)                       
2 Madeleine Cardillo (Brunswick)                    
3 Imogen Jelbart (Bendigo)                          
Men J15 B Grade Elimination
1 Luke Wylie (Blackburn)                            
2 Baden Tanner (Wangaratta)                         
3 Robert Oakenfull (Bendigo)                        
Men J15 A Grade Points
1 Evan Hull (Ararat)                                
2 Thomas Thorsen (Shepparton)                       
3 Jack Cummings (Carnegie Caulfield)                
Women J17 Progressive Points
1 Amy Cure (Mersey Valley Devenport)                
2 Shannon McCurley (Latrobe City)                   
3 Natasha Langedyk (Geelong)                        
Men J17 B Grade Elimination
1 Joshua Ferrie (Coburg)                            
2 Edward Osborne (Blackburn)                        
3 Peter Vlahos (Carnegie Caulfield)                 
Men J17 A Grade Motor Pace
1 Luke Ockerby (City of Burnie)                     
2 Samuel Brett (Mersey Valley Devonport)            
3 Gavin Sittampalan (Blackburn)                     
Women J19 Points
1 Carly McCoombe (Bendigo)                          
2 Laine Hammond (Northcote)                         
3 Kendelle Hodges (Brunswick)                       
Men J19 Motor Pace
1 Trevor Griffiths (Shepparton)                     
2 Silas Fisher (Broadford Seymour)                  
3 Toby Dite (Hawthorn)                              
Boys/Girls J13 750m Wheelrace
1 Max Dalgleish (Carnegie Caulfield)                
2 Andrew McIntosh (Bendigo)                         
3 James Pane (Brunswick)                            
4 Patrick Martin (Brunswick)                        
5 Thomas Slattery (Brunswick)                       
Women J15 1000m Wheelrace
1 Imogen Jelbart (Bendigo)                          
2 Antonia Abbisogni (Bendigo)                       
3 Grace Fryer (Carnegie Caulfield)                  
4 Vanessa Bof (Brunswick)                           
5 Ebony Clarke (Brunswick)                          
Men J15 B Grade Scratch
1 Luke Wylie (Blackburn)                            
2 Robert Oakenfull (Bendigo)                        
3 Sean McIver (Brunswick)                           
Men J15 A Grade Scratch
1 Thomas Thorsen (Shepparton)                       
2 Evan Hull (Ararat)                                
3 Jack Cummings (Carnegie Caulfield)                
Men J17/19 Junior Austral 2000m
Heat 1
1 Aaron Cooper (Albury-Wodonga)                     
2 Jayden Ripon (Camperdown)                         
3 Joshua Ferrie (Coburg)                            
4 Christopher Jehu (Colac)                          
5 Will Thomas (Blackburn)                           
6 Joshua Tepper (Bendigo)                           
7 Joshua Vicino (Brunswick)                         
Heat 2
1 Aaron Box (Geelong)                               
2 Michael Downing (Carnegie Caulfield)              
3 Silas Fisher (Broadford Seymour)                  
4 Patrick Lane (Carnegie Caulfield)                 
5 George Tansley (Bendigo)                          
6 Lewis Fulcher (Horsham)                           
7 Jaron Gardiner (Ararat)                           
Heat 3
1 Luke Ockerby (City of Burnie)                     
2 Ben Sanders (Carnegie Caulfield)                  
3 Samuel Brett (Mersey Valley Devonport)            
4 Madison Hammond (Northcote)                       
5 James Rendall (Albury-Wodonga)                    
6 Gavin Sittampalan (Blackburn)                     
7 Nathan Oman (Echuca Moama)                        
Boys/Girls J13 B Elimination
1 Andrew McIntosh (Bendigo)                         
2 James Pane (Brunswick)                            
3 Patrick Martin (Brunswick)                        
Boys/Girls J13 A Grade Elimination
1 Braeden Dean (Bendigo)                            
2 Joshua Liston (Ballarat/Sebastapol)               
3 Thomas Verleys-Donk (Carnegie Caulfield)          
Men J15 1000m Wheelrace
1 Evan Hull (Ararat)                                
2 Thomas Thorsen (Shepparton)                       
3 Jack Cummings (Carnegie Caulfield)                
4 Clement Boydell (Carnegie Caulfield)              
5 Jacob Schmid (Carnegie Caulfield)                 
Women J17/19 2000m Wheelrace
1 Amy Cure (Mersey Valley Devonport)                
2 Carly McCoombe (Bendigo)                          
3 Kendelle Hodges (Brunswick)                       
4 Melzy Feltham (Brunswick)                         
5 Alice Fresle (Ararat)                             
Men J17/19 B Grade Motor Pace for non-finalists
1 Brent Nelson (Blackburn)                          
2 Nathan Corrigan-Martella (Carnegie Caulfield)     
3 Jesse Rudolph (Ararat)                            
Men J17/19 A Grade Motor Pace for non-finalists
1 Lewis Fulcher (Horsham)                           
2 Harry Crothers-Bade (Ballarat/Sebastapol)         
3 Shaun O'Callaghan (Brunswick)                     
Men J17/19 Junior Austral 2000m
1 Michael Downing (Carnegie Caulfield)              
2 Luke Ockerby (City of Burnie)                     
3 George Tansley (Bendigo)                          
4 Ben Sanders (Carnegie Caulfield)                  
5 Silas Fisher (Broadford Seymour)                  
Women J15 Points
1 Antonia Abbisogni (Bendigo)                       
2 Imogen Jelbart (Bendigo)                          
3 Madeleine Cardillo (Brunswick)                    
Women J17 Scratch
1 Amy Cure (Mersey Valley Devonport)                
2 Samantha Verlin (Bendigo)                         
3 Natasha Langedyk (Geelong)                        
Men J17 B Grade Points
1 Joshua Ferrie (Coburg)                            
2 Edward Osborne (Blackburn)                        
3 Brent Nelson (Blackburn)                          
Men J19 Invitation Keirin
1 Ben Sanders (Carnegie Caulfield)                  
2 Toby Dite (Hawthorn)                              
3 Trevor Griffiths (Horsham)                        
4 Aaron Cooper (Albury-Wodonga)                     
5 Gavin Sittampalan (Blackburn)                     
Men J17 A Grade Progressive Points
1 Nathan Oman (Echuca Moama)                        
2 George Tansley (Bendigo)                          
3 Joshua Vicino (Brunswick)                         
Men J17 Invitation Sprint Derby
1 Luke Ockerby (City of Burnie)                     
2 Jaron Gardiner (Ararat)                           
3 Samuel Brett (Mersey Valley Devonport)            
Women J19 Motor Pace
1 Laine Hammond (Northcote)                         
2 Carly McCoombe (Bendigo)                          
3 Kendelle Hodges (Brunswick)                       
Men J19 Scratch Race
1 Ben Sanders (Carnegie Caulfield)                  
2 Michael Downing (Carnegie Caulfield)              
3 Trevor Griffiths (Horsham)