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2006 Commonwealth Games - JR
Melbourne, Australia, March 16-26, 2006
March 19: Mens 20km scratch race
Cavendish scores for Isle of Man
By Mal Sawford
After Scotland had ended the Australia/England clean sweep of gold medals in the penultimate race of the track competition, a win to a rider from the Isle of Man - the country's first Commonwealth cycling medal since the 60's 0 was something special. A lengthy delay before the medal ceremony had one wag in the crowd asking whether they still had to compose a national anthem, but the win by Mark Cavendish, one half of the British world champion madison team was hardly an upset.
The 80 lap race offered none of the non-stop excitement of the points race once five riders succeeded in taking a lap from the bunch in the opening laps. Joining Cavendish in the winning move were Australian Ashley Hutchinson, Canada's Zach Bell, James McCallum (Scotland) and Timothy Gudsell (New Zealand). Once the lap was taken, the next sixty laps could only be described as mundane, with each of the five countries represented keen to ensure that no one else had the opportunity to gain a lap.
Greg Henderson and Hayden Godfrey went to the front of the race with five laps to travel, trying to set up their teammate for the win, while the Australian pair of Sean Finning and Ben Kersten tried to do the same for Hutchinson. Neither team was prepared for the unexpected assistance Cavendish got from Team England rider Rob Hayles in the final two laps, and although Hutchinson had the winner's wheel, he didn't have the speed to pull off the win in the race to the line.
"I just didn't get there, I just didn't have it," said Hutchinson, facing disappointment for the second day in a row after being omitted from the team pursuit team the night before. "I just had to race the guys that were a lap up with me." Overall, he was happy with his second place today. "If a break didn't get away we had Ben Kersten for the sprint."
Another of the pre race favourites, Greg Henderson, agreed that Kersten posed an unacceptable risk. "We knew we had to put someone up in the move. I'm proud of him [Gudsell] and he got in the move, but he just lost our wheel in the lead-out. It just wasn't his kind of race. I love bashing handlebars but it just wasn't his kind of thing. In the end we just stopped the lead-out because there was no use leading out the other guys."
Cavendish was understandably delighted with his win. "It is forty years since the Isle of Man has won a gold. This is my event and I wouldn't have been happy with anything other than gold. The world championship gold medal was unexpected, but I've been expecting this for a year. I'm seen as one of the best scratch race riders in the world. I knew there had to be a lap taken with Ben Kersten in the bunch so I was watching the Australians. I think I did about two laps on the front to get the break going. It was more like a keirin at the end. The New Zealand guys had it strung out at the end, but in the finishing straight I was just cruising."
The winner dedicated his win to the memory of James Berry, a promising junior cyclist from the Isle of Man killed in freak training accident late last year. "I said to his father I'd ride this for him," said the proud Cavendish.
With more entries than expected for the men's scratch race, an additional non-ticketed session was added to the schedule and was raced this morning. In both heats, a break of five riders lapped the field with New Zealand riders Greg Henderson and Timothy Gudsell winning their respective heats.
In the first heat South African rider Durwan Benjamin missed out on qualifying, whilst in heat two, England's Ian Stannard missed out, leaving both nations with only two riders in tonight's final. Greg Henderson placed second at the World Championships in Los Angeles last year and will be one of the favourites in tonights race, whilst Australian Ben Kersten, already having shown his form this week will be hard to beat if the race comes down to a bunch sprint. Kersten looked very relaxed in this morning's heat doing just enough to qualify.
Australia, New Zealand, Wales, Malaysia and the Isle of Man all take three riders into tonight's final.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
Images by Rob Jones/www.canadiancyclist.com
Qualifying Heat 1 1 Greg Henderson (New Zealand) 2 Zack Bell (Canada) 3 Ashley Hutchinson (Australia) 4 Ross Sander (Wales) 5 Rob Hayles (England) 6 Sean Finning (Australia) 7 Jonathan Matthew Bellis (Isle of Man) 8 Mark Richard Kelly (Isle of Man) 9 James McCallum (Scotland) 10 Garth Conrad Thomas (South Africa) 11 Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lufti (Malaysia) 12 Weng Kim Thum (Malaysia) 13 Durwan Benjamin (South Africa) 14 Jason Perryman (Barbados) 15 Warren Christopher McKay (British Guyana) 16 Stephen Gallagher (Northern Ireland) Qualifying heat 2 1 Timothy Gudsell (New Zealand) 2 Hayden Godfrey (New Zealand) 3 Martin Gilbert (Canada) 4 Mohd Zahit. Mohd Sayuti (Malaysia) 5 Edward Clancy (England) 6 Geraint Thomas (Wales) 7 Mark Cavendish (Isle of Man) 8 Ben Kersten (Australia) 9 Rupert Rheeder (South Africa) 10 Matthew Brammeier (Wales) 11 Horace McFarlane (Jamaica) 12 Evan Oliphant (Scotland) 13 Ian Stannard (England) 14 Thomas Evans (Northern Ireland) 15 Emile Abraham (Trinidad) Final 1 Mark Cavendish (Isle Of Man) 23.05.540 (51.965km/h) 2 Ashley Hutchinson (Australia) 3 James McCallum (Scotland) 4 Timothy Gudsell (New Zealand) 5 Zack Bell (Canada) 6 Jonathan Matthew Bellis (Isle Of Man) 7 Evan Oliphant (Scotland) 8 Mark Richard Kelly (Isle Of Man) 9 Martin Gilbert (Canada) 10 Greg Henderson (New Zealand) 11 Garth Conrad Thomas (Republic of South Africa) 12 Mohd Zahit. Mohd Sayuti (Malaysia) 13 Ben Kersten (Australia) 14 Weng Kim Thum (Malaysia) 15 Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lufti (Malaysia) DQ Rob Hayles (England) DNS Horace McFarlane (Jamaica) DNS Matthew Brammeier (Wales) DNS Geraint Thomas (Wales) DNS Sean Finning (Australia) DNS Edward Clancy (England) DNS Hayden Godfrey (New Zealand) DNS Rupert Rheeder (Republic of South Africa)