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34th Bendigo Madison - IM
Australia, March 5-7, 2004
Day 1 - March 5: Bendigo Criterium
Lars Teutenberg takes out Bendigo crit
By Mikkeli Godfree
The Bendigo International Madison weekend began tonight with a twilight criterium in the centre of town. The historic town has built a name for itself as one of the best hosts of cycle racing and tonight was no exception.
Lars Teutenberg (Germany) was the winner of the race, making his six-week stay in Australia all the more rewarding. He won from a breakaway of four riders which included Rodney McGee (FDJeux.com), Mitch Docker (Drapac) and Aaron Kemps (AIS).
Thousands of spectators came out to line the inner-city course in warm conditions. Those who couldn't be torn away from the bar still enjoyed the racing from any of the four or five pubs which had first storey balconies which accommodated hundreds of keen spectators.
How it unfolded
The forty-five lap race was run on a 900m circuit which incorporated the main street. The course was open and fast, barely requiring a touch of the brakes. With a great course, great atmosphere all that was needed was a top quality field. That requirement was fulfilled with three German track riders (Lademann, Teutenberg and Weispfennig) pitching themselves against a hot Australian field including Brett Aitken, Rodney McGee among others.
As the riders lined up they were told that $200 had been put on offer for the first rider to lap the field. With money up for the four sprints, coming up every ten laps, the scene was set for some fierce racing.
From the outset, the pace was on and it wasn't long before the field were lapping at 53 seconds for the 900m - a shade over 60 km/h. Early protagonists were Simon Clarke (Bike Now) and Christian Lademann (Team MGZT) who got a gap in the first few minutes. They were soon joined by Rodney McGee who promptly took the first sprint.
A reaction came from the main group though, which was already losing riders off the back and it was all back together. For the next ten laps, the bunch flew around the course as the light dwindled and the crowd really got behind the race. With constant attacks, the bunch looked sure to split up and sure enough, by the second sprint, a group of 15 riders had got free as Leigh De Luca (Specialized), Steve Fitzpatrick and Mat Goss (T.I.S.) took the money for the second sprint.
The reaction from the sprint saw a serious move go with Lademann, David Pell and Sean Finning (VIS), Chris Sutton (FDJeux.com), Nathan Clarke (Derrico Cycles), Richard England (Le Tour), Aaron Kemps (AIS) and Lars Teutenberg all present and working well.
With 16 laps to go, Brett Aitken's response to the move came and with that, the whole bunch followed and it was all back together. Just when the race looked to be harder to pick than a broken nose, Teutenberg, McGee and Kemps flew the coup and the bunch sat up for the first time in the 30mins of racing.
Sensing that the racing was going up the road, Mitchell Docker (Drapac) made his move and latched onto the leaders after a two-lap effort to bridge. Over the next ten laps, this leading quartet worked flawlessly and held an advantage of ten seconds while groups made futile efforts behind to bridge.
With an 11sec advantage at two laps to go, the winner would come from the front four of Docker, Kemps, Teutenberg or McGee. Not keen to hang around for the sprint, Teutenberg attacked just when McGee had finished his turn. With no reaction coming from Kemps or Docker, the German just rode away, leaving the others to fight it out for third. Kemps beat home the sprint champion McGee for second while Docker rolled in for fourth.
Lars Teutenberg was very happy with his win because he had been dropped from a club handicap the night before and was worried he wouldn't be able to live up to the expectations of the organisers, who had helped him fly out from Germany with his family.
"I was a bit nervous because they expected me to go well so I am happy. I was sure I was not so strong in the sprint, I knew I had to go. I waited until two laps to go because with one lap to go, everyone is so concentrated."
Second placed Aaron Kemps was a little disappointed, commenting that he "was hoping it was going to come to a sprint finish - but Lars was super strong and I couldn't go with him."
Rodney McGee, who picked up the sprint championship for the night and third place, had given up hopes of a win tonight against his fellow breakaway riders. "I knew Lars was always going to attack and if we came to a sprint I knew Kempsie was going to get it. Just quietly, I'm looking forward to Sunday. This time last year I probably didn't feel so good at this Friday night crit so I'm looking the madison should be good."
Fourth placed Docker put in a good ride to reach the leading three and said, "I was just looking to find my legs but when I saw McGee up there I knew we were in with a chance of staying away." The year-12 student is doing a great job of juggling study and cycling with the help of his Drapac team and will ride with the madison Michael Ford.
Another day of racing is on the cards for Saturday but it will be back to the track for the boys as they start to concentrate on the big race for the weekend, Sunday's Bendigo International Madison.
Images by Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com
Images by Mikkeli Godfree/Cyclingnews.com
1 Lars Teutenberg (Ger) Sparkasse 2 Aaron Kemps (Aus) AIS 3 Rodney McGee (Aus) McGee-NSWIS 4 Mitchell Docker (Aus) Drapac