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2003 Launceston Classic

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Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals

Tasmania, December 26, 2003 - January 4, 2004

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Launceston Carnival - December 28

A bit of speed gives Goss another big one

Local hero's wheelrace win tops off great night for TIS squad

Matt Goss
Photo ©: Shane Goss

In front of a capacity crowd at the Launceston Silverdome, 17-year-old local rider Matt Goss won the feature event of today's racing at the Launceston carnival, the 2003 Hahn Premium Light Launceston Wheelrace.

Riding off the 70m mark, Goss was part of an uncatchably fast coalition of middle-markers who held off the chasing effort of scratchmen Jame Carney and Nathan Clarke until, realizing they were not going to make contact, first Clarke and then Carney abandoned the chase. Moving up from the middle of the pack, Goss came round the top of Kouji Yoshi and Brendan Geale to take a victory that had the crowd lifting the rafters of the Silverdome.

Driving the effort that eventually delivered Goss to the line was his TIS-Cyclingnews team-mate Karl Menzies, who took a few long, hard turns on the front to help ensure the scratchmen stayed back.

Goss reached the wheelrace final by placing second in his heat behind fellow Tasmanian Ben Price who is in the middle of a comeback after a couple of years off the bike.

The other heats eliminated most of the scratchmen, with only Jame Carney and Nathan Clarke surviving. The departure of Graeme Brown and Brett Lancaster was perhaps the evening's biggest upset as Paul Atkinson won the third heat, putting the rainbow-jerseyed duo on the sidelines.

With a strong group of riders away from marks around 100m the final was always going to be a tough one for the scratchmen. Carney and Clarke worked together for three laps before Clarke gave up, leaving Carney to confidently carve a path through a few of the stragglers before realizing that the group being powered by Matthew Atkins, Menzies, Geale, Goss, and Kouji Yoshi was not to be caught.

Danny Clark
Photo ©: Shane Goss

As the bell rang for the final lap Brendan Geale made his charge, coming over the top of Matthew Atkins and Yoshi. Goss followed Geale and found enough power to get over the top as they came round the turn into the final straight.

"I thought it was going to be very difficult to come round when there was two guys in front of me with 150m to go but I found a bit of speed to come round the top," said Goss of the moment when he realized he'd taken his second major victory of these carnivals, and added to his wheelrace win at Devonport last year.

Goss spent the tail end of the season in Europe with the Australian Institute of Sport junior team, and says this experience is at the heart of his current form. "I gained a lot of strength from that and when I started training again it's really helped me come back a lot quicker," he said. "We did a couple of training sessions up here at the Silverdome with the TIS and it's really helped me get a lot of leg speed. I've found I've been able to come round riders at high speed."

As well as home-track training, Goss was buoyed along by a packed and very vocal home crowd. "You don't usually hear the crowd when you're riding but I could actually hear them tonight. It was really good to have them behind me."

Other racing

Graeme Brown
Photo ©: Shane Goss

In the feature event of the afternoon session, Graeme Brown demonstrated his versatility taking out the Motors elimination from Jame Carney and Todd Wilksch. Brown, Carney and other top riders policed the front of the pack, staying out of trouble as riders behind them were progressively eliminated until just four remained. A frantic penultimate dash for the line saw Russell Downing become the last of a strong British presence in this race to be eliminated, his brother Dean and team-mate Kristian House having gone out in earlier laps.

With just three remaining an Australia vs USA final sprint was in the offing. Wilksch went, with three-quarters of a lap to go, attempting to get enough of a margin to drop Brown, but with the form that Brown has brought to Tasmania this year that was as likely as [a very unlikely sch as they charged into thing]. As they went into the final turn Brown powered round the top of Wilksch with Carney on his wheel and stayed at the front to the line. Carney just edged out Wilksch for second in a super-close finish.

Russell Downing
Photo ©: Shane Goss

The Cripps Nubake Handicap went to Tasmanian Stephen Rossendell, riding off 50m, who seemingly came out of nowhere to edge out Grant Erwin (60m) and Steve Price (100m) for the $250 first prize. The heats had eliminated all the scratchmen except Graeme Brown who put on a good show of pursuiting as he attempted to get in contact with the rapidly-coalescing main bunch. It was not to be, and Brown sat up with three laps to go, leaving the middle markers to fight it out.

With a lap to go Latrobe Wheelrace winner Bradley Payne moved to the front and attempted to reproduce the hit-out that worked two days ago, but in the shelter of the Launceston Silverdome it was the wrong tactic and the young Queenslander was swiftly eclipsed by Steve Price. As they came out of the last turn Rossendell slipped under Price to snatch first place, as Grant Erwin came through the middle for second.

Liz Williams
Photo ©: Shane Goss

The women's elimination came down to two Australians and an American as New Zealander Liz Williams was the last to be eliminated, leaving Belinda Goss, Louise Yaxley and Becky Conzelman to battle it out for the honours. Yaxley led out from 200m to go and Goss came over her in a powerful surge, with Conzelman on her wheel. Conzelman battled valiantly to stay in contact as Goss opened up a gap of a couple of bike lengths into the final straight, carrying the advantage all the way to the line.

Evening session

The Eaglecrest technology Lightning Handicap was the first major event of the evening session and as the Silverdome filled up with enthusiastic local racing fans, scratchman Graeme Brown once again caught and passed the entire field over the course of a very quick 1000m race.

The seven-lap Frank Clark women's wheelrace saw junior Samantha Hellyer stave off a combined USA/Tasmanian Institute of Sport group of backmarkers. With fellow juniors Natasha Mapley and Grace Sulzberger, Hellyer battled to stay in front as the senior women pounded after them, and in the final lap the gap stopped shrinking as the chase ran out of steam.

British rider Ross Edgar - whose team is turning out to be the revelation of these carnivals, animating the racing and clearly enjoying themselves tremendously in the process - took out the kierin. As the motorbike peeled off it looked as though Edgar was trying to lead out team-mate Craig Maclean, but when Maclean failed to come round and Nobody else challenged, Edgar put his head down and drove hard for the line.

Tasmanian axeman David Foster (right) issues a challenge
Photo ©: Shane Goss

After the wheelrace heats a little light relief. British team member Craig Maclean took on local hero David Foster to see who was fastest in their discipline. A demi-god here in Tasmania, Foster is a multiple world champion in the sport of wood-chopping. The whole idea of competitive wood-chopping sounds slightly silly until you see a huge bloke standing on top of a twelve-inch log and having at it with an axe that's sharp enough to shave with and heavy enough to take off a limb if he misses the log. The precision and power is breath-taking and anyway, respect seems like the best policy toward a 300lb giant with a very big axe.

After a bit of tomfoolery for the crowd, Maclean got aboard his bike and Foster stood across the log. Maclean wound up to full speed behind a motorbike and as he crossed the line the bike peeled off and the race was on: a flying lap against Foster's blade. Maclean buried himself as Foster hacked at the log and as Maclean came out of the final turn Foster looked to be just a couple of strokes from splitting the log in two - almost but not quite. Maclean crossed the line a second before Foster reduced the log to firewood and leg power prevailed over axe-wielding, as Maclean recorded 16.8s for the 285m circuit of the Silverdome track.

The TIS-Cyclingnews women's team
Photo ©: Shane Goss

As the evening drew to a close Matt Goss' TIS team-mates clocked up two more successes for the local squad as Belinda Goss (no relation) landed the women's scratch race and Darren Young took out the 60-lap A Grade scratch.

The evening's final scratch race took the riders round the 285m Launceston velodrome no less than sixty times. The first two-thirds of the race were very much a procession as riders smoothly swapped turns on the front - after a long day's racing nobody was too keen to try and charge off and risk burning themselvs out for the finale.

With 15 laps to go the jockeying started, as riders took shorter and shorter pulls on the front and the previous smooth paceline turned into a bunch. Graeme Brown and Brett Lancaster were highly active policing the front of the pack, along with Jame Carney, Wouter Van Mechlen and the TIS duo of Mark Jamieson and Darren Young.

With three laps to go the local trio of Nathan Clarke, Gareth Atkins and Daniel Cutting assembled a three-man pursuit line and took the front, dragging the speed up and taking along Brown, Lancaster, Young, Todd Wilksch and van Mechlen. That was the lead group as they hit the final lap, with darren Young. Brown started his trademark turbo-charged surge from 200m out, but Darren Young catapulted off the back of Clarke Atkins and Cutting to just fend him off on the line.

Asked if the race had gone according to plan, Young told Cyclingnews, "There was no real plan, I saw Nathan [Clarke] and a few of the guys line up and I thought, 'I'll just get on the back here and hopefully they'll go to the front' - and they did! They moved very well."

Young admitted he'd felt tired after the previous day's criterium and had sat in a bit and saved himself till the finale.

Brown was also pretty tired. "Today we did about twice as many races as at Latrobe," he said, "I'm absolutely buggered. I gave 100 percent effort in the last race and got second, and that was as much as I could have done. It was a tough day."


Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com


Launceston Wheelrace
1 Matthew Goss (Aus)
2 Kouji Yoshi (Jpn)
3 Brendan Geale (Aus)
4 Carlo Barendilla (Ita)

Complete event results