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Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals

Tasmania, December 22, 2007 - January 19, 2008

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Launceston Carnival - December 28, 2007

Sue Napier Ladies invitational Scratch race

By Paul Verkuylen in Launceston

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

Enjoying one of the largest groups of women ever assembled for the Tasmanian track carnivals, 16 riders lined up for the women's invitational scratch race. The hot favorite for the event was Kirsty Broun who has returned home to Tasmania for the Christmas carnivals. Broun, who won the Latrobe wheelrace just two days earlier, was heavily marked throughout the event.

The race got off to a relatively easy start with the group staying together for the first seven of the 15 laps when the more nervous girls among the group began to get twitchy. Jessica Berry was the first to make a move, enjoying a gap of 50 meters for around three laps. Berry seemed to be cruising out front while the favorites, happy to leave her out front, sat back watching each other like hawks.

With five laps to go, Broun was seen moving closer to the front, as Berry was caught. Three riders, Michaela Anderson, Laura McCaughey and Kate Cullen made a move off the front gaining enough of a gap to force a reaction from the main field.

As the bell rang signaling the final lap, Broun made her move around the outside but as the field lined up for the finish they were still just off the back of the three leaders. Broun was able to do enough for third place, but it would be McCaughey who would cross the line as victor with Cullen placing second.

Kinnane Cycles ladies 1000 meter handicap

Laura McCaughey
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

It took three heats to whittle the large field assembled down to a reasonable number before the final of the 1000 meter handicap could be run. Just two women, Kirsty Broun and Laura McCaughey were handicapped off scratch, meaning the task ahead of them would be tough.

With just a thousand meters to make up the 100 or so meters they were behind the early starters, Broun and McCaughey had no time to mess around. Starting fast, they quickly picked up the women in front of them as they continued their effort to catch the leaders. With exactly one lap to go, the entire field was all together, but Broun and McCaughey, sitting second last and last wheel respectively, had just 285 meters to pass the entire field.

In an effort that brought the large crowd assembled to their feet, the two attacked the field, moving around the longer but clear path on the outside of the track to break out of the front of the field on the final bend.

Broun was too strong in the final kick over 40 meters as she moved clear of McCaughey to take the win to the delight of the crowd.

Up and coming youngster Harriet Kossman, who is still only a junior, crossed the line for a fine third place in front of many more experienced women.

Mens Sports power A grade elimination

Victorian Institute of Sport riders Zak Dempster and Sean Finning rode a tactically astute race that the rest of the field could surely learn from. The two riders got themselves into position at the front of the 20 strong field in the first lap. By the time the gun fired signaling the start of the race, the field was clocked at 51 km per hour.

This high pace was maintained by the two riders at the head of the field for much of the race, with those riders not strong enough to hold the blistering pace becoming early casualties.

Big names such as Evan Oliphant and Mark Jamieson were sent back to changing rooms early as Glenn O'Shea made a move off the front after just six laps. This did little to disrupt the VIS riders as they simply maintained their pace, and after two laps had brought O'Shea back into the fold.

After 18 laps the final three riders left in the race, Dempster, Finning and Glenn O'Shea, crossed the line to receive the signal that they had just two laps remaining. O'Shea had positioned himself in the middle of the two VIS team-mates for the final lap. The earlier effort of maintaining a high pace for the long elimination race had finally caught up with Finning as he lost contact with the leading two.

As O'Shea and Dempster came around the final bend, O'Shea kicked, and quickly gained a gap on Dempster that would see him cross the line to take out a hard fought elimination.

Batman Faulkner Hotel 1000 meter Lightning handicap

Leigh Howard was the only scratch rider to make it through from his heat to the final of the 1000 meter handicap, which left him with very little time to make up the 120 meters between him and the front of the race.

His advantage lay in the five riders that were starting just 15 meters in front of him. By the time the race reached the halfway point, all riders bar one, Daniel Ellis, were together and thinking of the final dash to the line in just a few hundred meters.

However, as he came into the final bend ahead of the bell lap, the main field caught and swamped Ellis on the line, and the strong men and fast finishers all made their way to the front of the race and began winding up the pace.

Shane Perkins was the first to start his sprint for the line, unleashing a burst of speed that took him a few meters clear of the rest. His strategy worked, and he was able to stay clear of the rest of the field, and crossed the line ahead of Jason Niblett and Scott Sunderland.

Perkins has shown some good form so far in this Christmas carnival and his win in the handicap should now put him on every rider's radar for the remainder of the week.

Women's UCI points race

Kirsty Broun has come from relative obscurity to become one of the brightest talents of the past few months in women's racing. Since winning the national criterium championships a month ago from a breakaway which went clear just seven minutes into the race, she has continued her progression in recent days. On Boxing Day she won the women's premiere wheelrace in Latrobe while not "feeling the best." In Launceston, she showed great form in all the races she has taken part in. The UCI women's points race was no exception. Displaying her great tactical sense she won the first sprint of the race before sitting back and letting the rest of the field wear themselves out before taking out the overall race by winning the final sprint by four bike lengths.

"I felt really good out there," She told Cyclingnews while warming down on the rollers. "I was a little off on Boxing Day, so it was good to have the day off yesterday. I just went out for a spin on the road bike and felt much better for it," she said.

Broun has been suffering from a bout of illness but insists that she is getting better each day and looking forward to contesting the criterium in Bernie on New Year eve.

"Mum has me on a course of antibiotics," she said as her mother, a doctor in Tasmania, gives her a congratulatory pat on the back.

The race was a fast attacking affair with very little time spent without a rider off the front.

First it was the rider from Hong Kong, Wong Wan Yu, who only decided to attend the carnivals on Christmas Day, who attacked the field shortly after the first sprint. She remained out front until after the second sprint, which she won.

From there on in, it was one rider after another who attacked the field in an attempt to gain points which they had sorely missed out on in the first two sprints.

With five laps to go, the entire field was all together; Broun was positioning herself on the wheel of Laura McCaughey with whom she has enjoyed good competition throughout the carnivals. It was McCaughey that Broun would stay with until one lap to go when Broun made her move on the back straight. Broun moved clear of the field to take the final sprint, which put her on ten points, enough to take out the event from Kate Cullen who took second on a count back after she finished on equal points with Gina Grain.

UCI Sprint series Olympic sprint

The Japanese
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

The same two teams who meet each other at the final of the team sprint in Latrobe, Japan and the Victorian Institute of sport team faced each other again in the final in Launceston.

This time it would be the Victorian team that would come out on top however as they clocked a time of 51.94 against Japans 52.42. The race was so close that the judges took a considerable amount of time to decide who would take the top spot on the winner dais.

Shane Kelly, once again showing his enormous speed, finished off the race for Victoria after Shane Perkins and Mark French blast around the tight Launceston track. Clocking 67km/h in the final straight Kelly out classed Japans Nagai Kiyofumi, who finished off the effort started by Kazunari Watanabe and Kitasuru Tsubasabut, but only just as he was clocked at 66km/h in the finish straight.

With just half a second separating the two teams, anyone who thought that these teams came to Tasmania for some easy points are sorely mistaken, as the competition here could only ever be matched by what has been seen recently at the World Cups.

UCI Sprint series

Shane Perkins
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

After Shane Perkins beat Mark French and Kazunari Watanabe beat Kitasuru in their respective semi finals, an Australian – Japanese showdown was set to thrill the capacity crowd of 4000.

Perkins was looking to take one back from the Japanese rider who took the win in the same race from his team-mate Jason Niblett in Latrobe.

Perkins quickly forced Watanabe into the lead, which was his tactic in the do or die one race final.

"He [Watanabe – ed] is a fast finisher, so I wanted to put him in the front and get him going," Perkins explained.

As the bell rang, Watanabe was rapidly accelerating, but Perkins seemed to have his rival under control as he moved up on his hip in the back straight before drawing level with him in the final bend. From there Perkins kicked again, moving clear of Watanabe to take the win.

For Perkins the win was important as it gives him more valuable points as he attempts to qualify for the Olympics.

"This is usually a bit of a rest period, but a few of us guys decided to come over and have a bit of fun, race and hopefully get a few points. So I am happy," he explained.

Mecure Hotel Earlington Launceston Wheelrace

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

With four riders racing off scratch and a hand full of riders starting between 20 and 50 meters in front of them, coupled with the quality field assembled, which included the likes of local favorite Mark Jamieson, Ben Kersten, Leigh Howard and Nathan Clarke the final of the men's wheelrace was always going to be tight.

Ben Kersten, in the first wheel race final of his Christmas carnival series was keen to show his colors in front of such a strong crowd. He never looked to be in trouble and as he rounded the final bend, after reeling in all of those before him, his final kick couldn't be matched by his competition and he crossed the line arms aloft in a victory salute.

"We had such a good spread of guys that it was a pretty easy race. A lot like a two minute scratch race," Kersten explained.

The scratch markers together with those off 20 and 50 meters had reeled in all bar four riders by the time they hit three laps to go. It was then that Jamieson, a rider accustomed to riding on his limit for 4000m hit the front. For the next two and a half laps he had those behind him gasping for air as he made small work of the gap the leaders had.

Even though Kersten felt that the race went smoothly Kersten did acknowledge that he didn't realize at first that there was still a group of four riders with a good sized lead so close to the finish.

"I saw a shadow and realized that they were ahead of us," he said.

Jamieson's effort earned him a huge roar from the crowd, as he swung off to let the other scratchies lead the charge to the line.

The final lap saw Leigh Howard hit the front early and it looked briefly like he would have enough to hold the lead to the line, but once Kersten opened up his sprint, no one was going to stop him from winning, while Howard took second from Todd Wilson.

Ladies invitation wheelrace

Sixteen year old Sarah Cure won the biggest event of her career when she crossed the line to the roar of her local crowd to win the Ladies invitation wheelrace. The race was marred by an accident on the final lap that saw three riders come down at the start of the final bend.

"It is really nice to win at home in front of family and friends," Cure said shortly after receiving the winner cheque and sash.

"I didn't realize that there was a crash, I heard the crowd but I thought that they were just cheering us on. I only noticed once I had finished," Cure said of the crash.

The race was a hard fought battle that saw the only scratch marker, Sarah Kent of Western Australia never make contact with the main bunch. The rest of the field came together with just under three laps remaining when they reeled in the final three women who still had a gap.

With one lap to go Cure made her move on the rest of the field which included her younger sister Amy. She was able to hold of the fast finishing bunch by half a bikes length.

Men's UCI Kierin

Shane Kelly
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Eight riders lined up for the final of the men's kierin. Of those eight, half the field was Australian. Shane Kelly showing great form was the most aggressive and fully deserved his win after a hard fought battle that saw the sprint to the line start a long way out from the finish. "The moves were coming thick and fast," he said as he was preparing to receive his prize.

"I had to get to the front, and as it turned out I hit the front. It was good that the Japanese rider came past me too, it gave me the chance to make the move that I wanted to," he explained.

After Jason Niblett was the quickest of the mark to get the derny's wheel, the race really started with two laps to go when Masato Tsuchiya (Japan) went for a long one.

It was then that Kelly reacted, making his way towards the front in an attempt to keep his Japanese competitor within reach.

With a lap to go, Kelly made his move on Tsuchiya, first bridging the gap and then overtaking him to win the event from two of his countrymen in Mark French and Jason Niblett, who is getting stronger as the carnival progresses.

Favorite for the win, Ben Kersten, was unable to get within striking distance in the last lap due in part to the rough nature of the kierin, but also due to his gear, which was too small after he had little time to change it after the wheelrace.

"I couldn't change it after the wheelrace, there just wasn't time," he said later.

Kelly's win in the event further amplified that his preparations for the Olympics are on track and that he lost little of his competitive edge.

Men's Scratch race

Mark Jamieson
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

A large field of over 25 riders assembled for the last event on the program in Launceston. Local boy, Mark Jamieson, who has slowly been riding himself into some good form over the course of the carnivals took an opportunity presented to him by the field as they allowed him a small gap.

Jamieson, along with the help of Evan Oliphant and Sean Finning quickly turned the smallest of margins into the race winning move, eventually lapping the field before winning the bunch sprint in a display of brilliance, to take his first win in the series.

"I honestly didn't think that I had it in me," he told the crowd after being awarded the winner sash from Michael Wilson, a previous Giro d Italia stage winner.

"I am super excited and happy to win in front of such a big crowd in Launceston. I have been to world and Commonwealth games but nothing beats the atmosphere of the Christmas carnivals."

Jamiesons attack came with 27 laps remaining on the board. Over the next 16 laps he Oliphant and Finning built a lead over the chasing field before Finning lost contact with the two. What happened next showed just why Jamieson has been earmarked for greatness. He seemed to lift the pace even more and along with Oliphant proceeded to lap the entire A grade field assembled before moving to the front of the main field and positioning himself for the final sprint.

Finning was out front alone now, and fighting every inch of the way to hold onto his third place. But it wasn't to be and along with the help of Jamieson, he was reeled back in by the rest of the field who were now going for third.

As the bell sounded, Jamieson was again on the front of the field and those around him began their sprint for the third place. In a display of class that was possibly driven by pride, Jamieson wouldn't allow anyone to come past him. He drove it down the back straight and as the line approached he raised his arm and let out a roar that had the crowd on its feet.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

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