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Queensland State Track Championships - NE
Chandler Velodrome, Australia, January 2-7, 2006
Day 6 - January 7: Men/U19 Men: Points Race; Women/U19 Women: Scratch Race
Hutchinson wins gold as Commonwealth Games berth beckons
By John Michael Flynn in Brisbane
Agonizingly close to one of his major career goals, Cairns cyclist Ashley Hutchinson confirmed his buildup for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games is right on track by taking out the elite men's points race on the final night of the Queensland senior track cycling championships in Brisbane,
The 2004 World Champion teams pursuit cyclist, who narrowly missed out on selection in Australia's squad for the Athens Olympics, sent a timely message to national team selectors that he's ready to go for gold in Melbourne in March.
Hutchinson emerged the victor in a field which also included fellow Queensland Academy of Sport cyclists Miles Olman and Grant Irwin of Rockhampton. The trio is likely to form the nucleus of a formidable Queensland pursuit team at next month's national track championships.
In a ride which Queensland Academy of Sport Coach James Victor described as "pure class", Hutchinson put on a show for the crowd at the Chandler Velodrome, just as he hopes to do on the boards in Melbourne, wearing the green and gold. "It's just a good indicator to see how I'm going; test the legs out on the track bike," Hutchinson told Cyclingnews at the end of his gold medal ride in the points race. "I haven't ridden the track bike for a couple of months so it's pretty good, just to see where the form is and to see what I need to do to get right for March," he added.
With several of Australia's top pursuit riders unavailable for the Commonwealth Games due to pro team commitments, Hutchinson has the inside running for a Games berth. But the North Queenslander isn't taking anything for granted after missing out on Athens 2004.
Hutchinson's training over the Christmas period (following his victory in the Southbank Grand Prix Criterium) has been meticulous. His game plan focused exclusively on being at his absolute best for Australia's Commonwealth Games effort. "At this stage I'm not 100 per cent in, and you know you never know until it [the team] is named," Hutchinson said of the Games selection process, before adding, "I'd like to think I'm a little bit confident."
Between now and the Commonwealth Games, Hutchinson will race with the newly-formed AIS South Australia.com Continental team in the Tour of Wellington, before representing Queensland at the national track titles next month.
The priority however is taking a Commonwealth Games medal home to Cairns and preferably one of the gold variety. "I've been around for a long time sitting on the sidelines watching these guys win world championships, and was lucky enough to do so in 2004," Hutchinson admitted. "I'm ready now I think to take a bit more responsibility and try and be a leader of the team with all the new young guys coming through."
More world champions on show
In a fitting finale to the race meeting, the parade of world champions continued, with junior keirin world champion Chloe Macpherson lining up in her least favourite event, the scratch race.
While Macpherson jokingly told Cyclingnews pre-race that she would get 'spat out the back' in the scratch race, the former bmx champion managed to hold on against her more seasoned rivals.
The sprint specialist just managed to edge out under 19 talent Courtney Le Lay in the dash to the line, an effort which required all the pace Macpherson could muster. "I tried to do as minimal turns as possible" Macpherson confessed post-race. "The endurance riders were trying to push the pace, but I just had to keep my eyes open and go whenever they went...I Hung in there."
Chloe's medal tally for the event also included gold in the keirin, the sprint and the one lap time trial, along with a standout silver medal performance in the 500 metre tt behind Kerrie Meares. "Yeah, it's been a fantastic week coming away with four gold medals after having no gold medals before this week [at state championship level]," Macpherson said.
"Basically, my goal for the nationals coming around is to lower my time in the five hundred and learn a bit more in the sprints."
Quality field in under 19 points race
Finishing off the programme, Queensland's burgeoning pool of talent in the under 19 men's division turned on one of the races of the these championships. When the final points were tallied it was hard to find a cyclist among the group who had given anything less than one hundred per cent.
The efforts of Ben Fleming, Joel Lewis, Byron Davis and Josh Edwards were all worthy of merit, but in the final washup, Hayden Josefski was a clear standout. The Maryborough endurance rider, who earlier in the week took out the under 19 pursuit, waited until the sprinters' legs were getting tired before pouncing.
Josefski picked up the bulk of the points on offer at the back end of the race, on his way to winning gold. "I tried not to go too hard at the start; I knew it was a pretty long race," Josefski said of his tactics. "I had to save myself for the last couple of sprints, where it counts."
Josefski's goal now is to step up to another level at the national championships and earn a place in the team to contest the world championships.
Coach Victor pleased
Among those singing the praises of the under 19 men at the Queensland championships was Q.A.S. cycling head coach James Victor.
Speaking at the completion of a busy week behind the scenes, Victor was enthusiastic about his team's prospects at the upcoming national championships in Adelaide. "Yeah, some good racing all round, particularly the under 19 men," Victor told Cyclingnews.
"Out of our team of seven, Hayden (Josefski) is the only second year junior, so it's pretty good for the future. The senior men, with Ashley (Hutchinson), Miles (Olman) and Grant (Irwin) are going extremely well; we've just got to piece a solid team together for nationals."
The site of three Q.A.S. jerseys together on the podium is something the coach would love to see repeated at national championship, level and Victor may get his chance, with 18-year-old Chloe Macpherson set to take on fellow Queenslanders, the Meares sisters, in Adelaide.
Victor kept a close eye on Macpherson's pre race preparation during the Queensland championships, the Q.A.S. Head Coach rating her silver medal performance against Kerrie Meares in the 500 t.t. above any of the four gold medals the Mackay talent won during the week of racing.
"Chloe Macpherson stepped up to the senior ranks as well as can be expected I think and it'll be good to see in a month's time how she steps into the national championships against Anna and Kerrie (Meares). And Courtney le Lay's a clear standout, probably the best all round rider of the week - she won every championship she lined up in in the juniors, a first year junior too, and a star of the future."
Queensland will host several major track meets in coming weeks, the highlight being the Rockhampton Cup on wheels on January 20 and 21. The National Track Cycling Championships are scheduled for February 6-11 in Adelaide.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by John Flynn/Cyclingnews.com
Elite men 40km points race 1 Ashley Hutchinson (Cairns Cycling Club) 2 Miles Olman (Rockhampton Cycling Club) 3 Grant Irwin (Rockhampton Cycling Club) Women 10km scratch race 1 Chloe Macpherson (Mackay Cycling Club) 2 Courtney Le Lay (Balmoral Cycling Club) 3 Alexandra Bright (Rockhampton Cycling Club) Under 19 men 25km points race 1 Hayden Josefski (Maryborough Cycling Club) 2 Joshua Edwards (Rockhampton Cycling Club) 3 Byron Davis (Kangaroo Point Cycling Club)