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Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals

Tasmania, December 22, 2007 - January 19, 2008


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Devonport Carnival December 29-30, 2007 - Day 1

By Paul Verkuylen in Devonport

Men's Lightning handicap: Kersten makes it two for two

Ben Kersten
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Taking his second successive wheelrace final in as many days in a dramatic finish that saw the entire field come to the line spread five wide across the track. Kersten was able to make his move through the middle of the pack in the final 100 meters to take the race after almost having to back pedal in the last bend to avoid crashing into the fence.

"They were stuffing around a bit in the back straight and as we hit the headwind they all fanned out. I was coming around the outside with Joel Leonard and we had to back pedal sharply all of a sudden. I nearly hit the fence," Kersten explained.

The Sydney resident explained that the long days in the saddle are beginning to take their toll. "I rode here this morning and didn't feel the best. I have a few saddle sores and my right leg is hurting due to my back."

Kersten put all this behind him as he lined up for the final of the first of two wheelraces on today's schedule. Being the only rider off scratch didn't seem to phase him as he quickly grabbed the wheel of Joel Leonard who started just ten meters in front of him. With the field spread out over just 85 meters, the back markers made light work of closing the gap and as they crossed the line for one lap to go they were all together.

Racing down the back straight the field fanned out due to the stiff headwind, Kersten made his move around the outside but mid way through the pack he had to stop and restart his charge for the line as he was almost ridden into the barrier.

"It happened here last year as well, only then I actually hit the barrier," he said.

As the field came into the final 200 meters, it was still anyone's race. Kersten, with Leonard on his right hip made his charge through the middle of the field. Leonard tried to come around Kersten in the dying meters but Kersten was carrying too much speed as he crossed for yet another wheel race victory.

Women's lightening handicap: Japan's Wadami enjoys Australia as she takes first win

An international field of women, including riders from Canada and Japan lined up for the lightening handicap. Japan's Satomi Wadami claimed victory off a mark of 45 meters in a race that was marred by a accident.

The race began at a furious pace as the front markers, who bunched up early in the first half lap, made an attempt to hold off the back markers who were struggling to bridge the last 15 meters to the main field as they crossed the line for one lap to go.

With just three quarters of a lap remaining, Sarah Cure, who was one of those chasing and last nights wheelrace winner, began making her move around the outside as her group was just a few meters behind the leading group. Cure was riding high on the track as another rider tried to squeeze their way through Cure and the larger group on her left. Handlebars collided as a result and Cure, along with Melissa Hoskins and Jessica Allen both from Western Australia, came down hard.

The rest of field were oblivious to what had just happened as they accelerated into the final bend. Wadami was in the best position as they rounded the final bend and quickly took advantage of her experience as a sprinter as she powered clear of the field to take her first wheel race in Tasmania.

Of the three women who were involved in the crash, Allen was able to walk away, unfortunately Cure and Hoskins were not so lucky as they required an Ambulance and a trip to the hospital. The extent of their injuries is still not known.

Men's UCI Sprint series: Perkins makes small work of countrymen

The final of the UCI sprint was an all Australian affair as none of the Japanese, American or Malaysian riders were able to make an impact on the Australian riders, who seem to only being getting stronger as the carnivals are progressing.

After a slow start to the final, Perkins lead out his three fellow Australians as French and Kelly began a head butting contest in the back straight. When the riders hit the line signaling two hundred meters remaining, Perkins was still out front and didn't seem to be losing any speed. Kelly made an attempt to come around the outside, but realizing quickly that he would have a better chance in the final straight he slotted in behind Scott Sutherland who was on Perkins right hip.

As they reached the final 150 meters the four riders fanned out across the track and began the drag race to the line. Perkins was much too strong as he crossed for his second sprint win in as many days, ahead of Sutherland while it took a photo to separate Mark French and Kelly on the line.

UCI Keirin: Young Malaysian, Hansi takes biggest pay packet of his career

Azizul Hasni (Malaysia)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Only two international riders made the final of the mens keirin event, Nagai Kiyofumi from Japan and Azizul Hansi of Malaysia. But neither rider felt intimidated by the strong presence of some of Australia's best keirin riders. Hansi, rode a tactically astute race, as coach John Beasley looked on from the in field to take the race and his biggest pay packet of his short career as he outsprinting Shane Kelly and Kiyofumi.

"This is unbelievable. I am so excited to have won here. I got third the other day but this is great," he said after the race.

The current Asian keirin champion was happy to beat one of the sports biggest names in Kelly in Tasmania. "It's definitely good for the motivation," he explained.

The pace was high from the start, as Daniel Ellis held first wheel behind the derny. All eight riders were happy to hold their places in the line as they made their way towards the final two laps when the derny would swing off. With one and a half to go, Kiyofumi attacked down the back straight and held a ten meter lead as he got the bell. Shane Perkins was leading the charges behind Kiyofumi with Kelly on his wheel. Hansi was coming up fast on Kelly's right hip as they turned into the final bend. Kelly had made up the ground lost to Kiyofumi and looked set to once again cross the line as winner of the keirin, but it was Hansi who was carrying the most speed as he overtook both rider to win the race to the delight of the crowd.

The win give the Malaysian sensation all important points towards qualifying for the Beijing games, although at just 19, Hansi may very well be a force right up until the 2012 games in London.

Women's Points race: Broun just getting stronger

Kirsty Broun
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

A depleted women's field of just ten riders, lined up for the UCI points race, most likely a result of poor motivation after a fall in the earlier women's lightening handicap final that placed tow riders in hospital, coupled with the horrific crash that left young South Australian, Shamus Liptrot in a critical condition at the Berni hospital.

Kirsty Broun continued her rapid rise to the top of Australian women's cycling as she once again dominated the race, taking the first and third sprints and placing second in the second to take the title by four points from Laura McCaughey.

Broun and McCaughey were again the standout riders in the elite field that did take to the start as they seemed to be only keeping an eye on one another the entire race.

Mid way through the race, the two were equal on points as they swapped positions in the first two sprints. After the third sprint, which Broun won from McCaughey, McCaughey sat back to regain her breath again before launching an attack that took her clear of the main field with three other riders with just three laps remaining. Kate Cullen was out front on her own after continuing her effort after the send to last sprint with just four laps remaining. McCaughey was driving on the front of her group after she realized that Broun had missed the move and that she was in with a chance of the win, if she could just hold her off until the finish.

With one lap to go, McCaughey held just a slender lead over the group that contained Broun. After a late surge by Broun's group McCaughey was quickly caught and passed by the five women in the group, who had opened up the sprint in an effort to pull back Cullen, who still held a 30 meter lead.

Cullen was too strong for the rest as she maintained her advantage to cross the line to take full points and move herself into third place overall. McCaughey crossed in seventh place, but gained no points over Broun who was happy to finish last, safe in the knowledge that she had enough points for the win.

Women's A grade scratch race: Broun by half a tyre

Jessica Berry and Kirsty Broun
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Nine riders lined up to contest the seven lap scratch race, with Kirsty Broun once again proving too strong for the others as she powered away on the final straight to take the win from Jessica Berry. But this time she didn't have it all her own way as she had to fight until the very end, taking the race by just half a tyres width from the fast finishing Berry.

The field stayed together for half the race as each rider was content to roll through for their turns on the front. With four laps to go the favourites began looking at one another, Kate Cullen, sensing an opportunity attacked as they went past the finish line with three to go. With Broun and McCaughey still watching each other like hawks, Cullen quickly built a lead of over 100 meters. With two laps to go her lead was still 40 meters, and the bunch was not closing in fast.

As the crowd, sensing she was in with a chance, began cheering her her on with a lap to go, The bunch slowly wound up there speed until swamping her with just 150 meters remaining. Broun rode through a tight gap in the center of the field to open up her sprint to the line.

Berry had also started her spint to the right of Broun and as the two hit the line it was the smallest of margins that would separate the two for first and second.

Toll Tasmania Mersey 2000 Wheel race: Johanson takes fastest ever wheelrace

Action in the Mersey Wheel Race heats.
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Starting of a mark of 90 meters 19 year-old Duane Johanson rode the race of his life to take out the 2000 meter wheelrace in a new record time of 2.08, smashing the old mark by eight seconds.

"I felt wicked all day," he said. "I had the wrong gear on for the lightening handicap, I rode 87 but I should have put on a 93. That's what I rode here."

Johanson, who hails from Roleystone, close to Perth and trains under the guidance of the Western Australian Institute of sport burst out of the main field in the final 200 meters to ride Ben Kersten off his wheel before saluting the stronfg crowd after crossing the line for the win.

"I knew Kersten and Howard were right behind me and I thought I had gone to early," he said.

Duane Johanson
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

A fast start by the entire field made for an exciting race from the gun as it looked like the scratch markers were going to catch the front runner on the line. As it turned out they caught them on the final lap, with Kersten and Howard not pausing at all before making their run around the outside in an attempt to get to the front before the field bunched up too much in the final bend.

Howard lead Kerten to the front of the field, but just as Kersten caught site of the front, Jahanson blast off the front with a burst of speed that no one could match.

He crossed the line for his biggest victory to date with more than a bikes length advantage over Kersten.

Men's Scratch race: Wilsch takes thriller

Tod Wilsch
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Todd Wilsch took the men's scratch race in a thrilling final that saw the filed strung out under the pressure of attack the entire race. Wilsch took the final sprint from Leigh Howard and Joel Leonard afer Nathan Clarke brought the whole field back together in the final few laps.

The attacks took only a lap to start in the shortened race due to the program running behind schedule. First it was Sean Finning who tried his luck to gain a gap on the field. Within the lap he had two riders for company before Mark Jamieson crossed the gap with ease as the bell rung for the first preme of the race.

With ten laps remaining Jamieson was still driving the pace on the front, his tempo so high the crowd at the top of the grandstand could see the grimaces of pain on the face of all the riders.

As the laps slowly whittled down, many big name riders began to fade to the back of the field under the intense pace being set by, wheelrace winner Johanson and others. As the bell sounded for one ot go, Clarke was driving on the front of the field as he attempted to ride them all off his wheel to take the win. Unfortunately for him, Wilsch had other ideas as he began his sprint with 120 to go, to cross the line half a length ahead of Howard.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Mark Gunter/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph


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