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Nationalgrid Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals, December 29, 2006

Catching up with the stars

By John Michael Flynn in Launceston

Where are the scratchies?

Ben Kersten was hoping to add
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

One of the biggest questions arising out of the Tasmanian Christmas carnivals is, what has happened to the scratch markers? While Ben Kersten has been a standout with his diehard efforts from the back marks over the first three days of the carnival - those who know the sport best are concerned at the lack of quality in the back end of the fields.

When Cyclingnews bumped into Australian cycling great Danny Clark at a Lanceston Café this morning, he described the situation as "disappointing", but also reserved praise for the young riders at the carnival, in particular Perth's Meyer brothers.

The lack of quality scratch markers has created nightmares for the race handicapper - and last night was perhaps the best example, with none of the scratchmarkers making the final of the Launceston Wheelrace. "We've had a talk to the race handicapper and he might look at putting a few more scratchies together in the heats at Devonport," Clark said.

Danny's "milli vanilli moment"

Danny Clark
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Clark also admitted to being a touch embarrassed over what would best be described as a 'milli vanilli moment' at the Launceston track carnival. Celebrating twenty years, almost to the day, since he won the Launceston wheelrace, Danny bravely accepted an invitation to serenade the crowd with his singing.

Everything started fine, with the cycling legend breezing his way through an old Bee Gees classic - but things went a little amiss when the CD player jammed on his rendition of John Denver's Country Road. No-one in the crowd seemed to mind, especially the young riders, who were happy to receive a visit from cycling royalty.

One cycling writer was also heard to quip, "Cycling has enough enquries going on without an investigation into whether Danny Clark was miming."

What about Jamo?

Mark Jamieson (TIS/Cyclingnews) was feeling off-colour
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

It hasn't helped the situation for the scratch markers that Australian teams pursuit star Mark Jamieson has been largely out of action over the first three days of the Nationalgrid Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals. Put it down to a dose of the dreaded lurgy, with 'Jamo' well below his best due to a stomach bug.

"I'm psyched to be here. But I wish it was under better circumstances," Jamieson told Cyclingnews. "I'm looking to try and start tomorrow night at Devonport."

Racing on his training wheels in the final scratch race last night, Jamieson showed glimpses of form, and may lift to another level on his home track in Devonport, which traditionally attracts a huge crowd. "People don't believe you, there's bigger crowds at the Christmas carnivals than at a world titles," Jamieson said. "Devonport is something special for me all my family all my friends, my grandparents, they're there to watch Devonport."

Champion American Jame Carney has also been fighting off sickness at the Christmas carnivals. In his case - a bout of bronchitis has prevented the nine time competitor at the Tassie Carnivals from reaching his best. Still, Carney has been one of the entertainers at the event so far, last night picking up victories in a derby event, and a demonstration keiren.

"I'm finally getting a little bit healthier I got bronchitis pretty bad ten days ago. I'm the old guy out there, the old guys are usually the lazy ones," he joked.

Kial banking on longevity

When this Cyclingnews reporter last saw Kial Stewart, the nuggety ACT cyclist with tree stump legs was being wheeled out of the Adelaide Velodrome in an ambulance - his Commonwealth Games dream in tatters. Stewart sustained a compound fracture to his collarbone in a horrifying accident at last January's National Track Championships - and is on a slow and steady comeback trail.

"I've still got another operation in order to take the plate out. I've still got more rehab ahead of me, it was painful but these things happen," Stewart said.

While cycling is presently taking a back seat to study (Stewart is completing a research degree in oceanography), the 23 year-old ACT cyclist believes he still has time on his side to make it in the incredibly competitive world of Australian track sprinting. "The depth in men's sprinting in Autralia is unbelievable there's like nine riders that are sub 10.7, to be part of that is good," Stewart said. "Longevity is what I feel I can offer at the moment. You look at Sean Eadie, didn't make his first state team until 24, his first national team at 27 and still racing well until his mid 30's. I'm still young.

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