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34th Bendigo Madison - IM

Australia, March 5-7, 2004

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Day 2 - March 6: Bendigo Wheelrace

Scratchies foiled in Day 2 wheelraces

By Mikkeli Godfree

Brad Norton (Drapac)
Photo ©: Mikkeli Godfree

With great weather blessing the first night of the Bendigo International Madison weekend, Saturday night proved that it was not to stay as a late southerly wind whipped up. The wind favoured the scratchmen all night as the weaker riders struggled in the headwind finish straight.

However, as the sun went down, the wind abated and the scratchies, comforted by the fact that they had in most cases managed to get up, let 170m riders Steve Martin (Le Tour) and Tony Jones (Moroni's) stay away to take 1-2 in the Gold and Opal Wheelrace.
A similar fate befell the backmarkers in the women's Wheelrace as Erin Downing came out of the bunch to take the win while backmarkers Renee Braithwaite (15m) and Belinda Goss (scr) never got up.

There was also a host of other great races with Simon Clarke (Bike Now) taking out the B-grade Scratch race, Shane Kelly taking top spot in the A-grade Scratch race and Jessica Berry (Bananaman Flooring) scoring a tight win over in-form rider Belinda Goss (TIS)..

Downing takes women's wheel

After the Golden Mile heats were run (seeing scratchies Todd Wilksch, Stephen Rossendell and Shane Kelly qualify for the Sunday night final), it was time for the Women's Wheelrace.

With the limit riders struggling all night to hold off the fast scratchies, Belinda Goss and Renee Braithwaite were odds on to get up but with a 40m gap to the next rider, they looked in trouble early and would never see the front.

The two Jessicas, Tanner and Berry looked a threat when they teamed up with Kylie Howlett but as the laps ran out, they faded. They got Berry to within five metres of the front bunch with a lap to go, but never quite made contact and the winner would come from the front bunch.

The eventual winner, Erin Downing (Le Tour - 160m), sensed the danger from behind and burst from the tiring front bunch with 150m to go to record a great win in the Women's Wheelrace over Gemma Henessey (120m) and Aimee Howlett (170m).

Martin holds off scratchmen in wheelrace final

Rodney McGee (FDJeux.com)
Photo ©: Mikkeli Godfree

A quality field lined up for the final of the Gold and Opal Wheelrace. Stephen Rossendell (Praties) was the only rider of scratch, but with Chris Sutton (FDJeux.com), Brad Norton (Drapac) and Erik Weispfennig just up ahead, they would most likely organise an assault on the overall win.

Sure enough, after a short struggle, Rossendell was on and a back group of 18 riders began to work well with all the others spread out over two hundred metres. In the main group, Michael Ford (VIS), Miles Olman (Drapac) and Matthew Goss (TIS) were doing a power of work but with two laps to go it didn't look enough to bring in a few of the outliers, namely Tony Jones and Steve Martin.

Sensing the pace was not high enough, David Pell (HPM), did a flier but was going nowhere and was brought back with one lap to go. Ford laid himself on the line to bring in the outliers but with one lap to go, it was certain that the winner would not come from the main group despite the fact that they were still picking off the outliers at a rate of knots.

Up ahead, Steve Martin (170m), ramped up the pace in the final quarter lap to leave his compatriot, Tony Jones (also 170m) and take a great win while Goss cleaned up the kick for third.

Winner Martin was extremely happy because he and Jones had little help in the closing laps of the race, "I did a turn with two laps to go, swung up expecting to see a group behind me and there was just me and Tony. I freaked out but the two of us worked well and the guys obviously thought they were going to catch us at the speed they were going…but they didn't."

For Martin, he has consistently placed in the top 6-7 in races like the Austral and the Golden Mile but this was his biggest win to date.

Second placed Tony Jones was also very happy with his result, "I think that crit last night got me going for tonight. I felt terrible this morning but hey, it must have worked 'cos I felt pretty good out there!"

Clarke best of B-grade

A bike lineup
Photo ©: Shane Goss

After the bunch duly swapped off for the first three laps, Mitch Docker (Drapac) tried to make amends for not making the Wheelrace finals by taking off with six laps to go.

In a show of defiance, Docker held off the smooth-working bunch for four laps, but as the riders began to sniff the finish, Chris Pascoe pulled the race back together and with one and a half laps remaining, a bunch kick was on the cards.

Simon Clarke (Bike Now) lined himself up perfectly for the final sprint and came through in the final metres to snatch the victory over Damien Keirl and a hard-working Chris Pascoe.

Kelly triumphs in top-grade Men's Scratch

Tasmanian Darren Young (TIS/Cyclingnews)
Photo ©: Shane Goss

The twenty-lap scratch race was always going to be hotly contested with Kelly, Wilksch, Young, Aitken, Clarke, McGee, Weispfennig, Lademann and Sutton all on the line.

From the gun, Brad Norton (Drapac) took off and had Nick Sanderson (VIS) for company. This pair held a lead of 80m or so for the first quarter of the race before Chris Sutton (FDJeux.com) did the job to bring them back.

With the bunch together again, Finning (VIS) and Olman (Drapac) tried to split the bunch up with some super-fast half-lap turns but by the half-way point they hadn't managed to cause any lasting damage.

The real move of the day came from Pell and Christian Lademann with 9 laps to go when the German followed the Bendigo local clear. The two quickly established a dangerous gap but the German sensed he was the weaker of the two and started doing smaller turns. Pell, who was keen to win on home turf, raised his arms in frustration and had a few quiet words to Lademann as they drifted back to the bunch, their opportunity lost.

A parochial crowd didn't mind telling Lademann what they thought of the German costing their local boy the win. Lademann didn't take this to heart though, saying after the race, "he was stronger for sure and I just couldn't match his speed, but hey, if they are upset, I'm sorry…it just makes it more interesting tomorrow night…"

With the race still up for grabs, Teutenberg took advantage of the confusion to skip up the road in an attempt to repeat his effort which won him the criterium. It wasn't to be though as a fired up Pell drove the bunch to bring back another German.

A strong Tim Decker (Decked-out Coaching) pulled the bunch back together with three laps to go as the pace really started to get hot. While Daniel Thorsten (VIS) took to the front, Michael Ford (VIS) fell victim to a bingle and left some skin on the ground.

With a lap to go, Kelly, McGee and Aitken moved up to the front as Rossendell attempted to get a gap. Richard England (Le Tour) kept the pace on though and with half a lap to go, Rossendell was swamped by a fast finishing Aitken who had Kelly in tow. Aitken put in a huge effort in the last half lap and it showed when he hit the head-wind finish straight as Kelly sailed past him to take the win. Aitken did manage to hold off a fresh looking Darren Young (TIS) and Todd Wilksch (Fitzroy Cycles) for second.

Berry vs Goss in Women's A-grade Scratch

A happy Jessica Berry (Bananaman Flooring)
Photo ©: Shane Goss

As the night came to a close, the A-grade women lined up in what looked to a be a Bananaman Flooring vs. Belinda Goss (TIS) show. After all concerned lapped conservatively for the first eight out of ten laps, Jessica Berry (BF) slotted back down in the pace-line behind her teammate, Kylie Howlett in an attempt to let her get a gap.

However, Goss was wise to this move and looked ready to pounce as the pace quickened. With half a lap to go, the in-form Goss made her move but left her run too late and couldn't quite get to the crafty Berry who crossed the line in first to record her third big victory in two months.

Berry, the winner of The Ladies Diamond Stakes and the Shepparton Wheelrace said, "our team worked really well together and I was very fortunate to win."

With a full program of racing scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, climaxing in the Bendigo International Madison, the racing will be hot up. Accordingly, the organisers are expecting a crowd of up to 10,000 to pack the country velodrome to see four-time winner Brett Aitken race with (third-time second placer) Erik Weispfennig. These two will be pushed all the way by the teams of Lademann and Teutenberg, McGee and Sutton, Clarke and Young while any number of the other teams have the potential to take the race by the horns.


Images by Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com

Images by Mikkeli Godfree/Cyclingnews.com


Women's Wheelrace final
1 Erin Downing 
2 Gemma Henessey 
3 Aimee Howlett 
Gold and Opal Wheelrace Final over 2000m
1 Steve Martin (170m)
2 Tony Jones (170m) 
3 Matthew Goss (45m)
 B-grade Scratch - 10 laps
1 Simon Clarke 
2 Damien Keirl 
3 Chris Pascoe.
Men's A-grade Scratch Race
1 Shane Kelly
2 Brett Aitken
3 Darren Young 
4 Todd Wilksch 
Women's A-grade Scratch Race
1 Jessica Berry 
2 Belinda Goss