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Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals
Tasmania, December 20, 2008 - January 17, 2009
Devonport Carnival December 29-30, 2008 - Day 1
O'Shea strikes back for scratchmen
By Rod Morris
Nineteen-year-old Bendigo, Victoria, rider Glenn O'Shea struck one back for the scratchmen on the opening night of the dual Devonport Carnival, midway through the 2008-09 Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals. O'Shea, the 2007 World Junior Omnium track champion has a growing list of achievements and in years to come, beating a class field in the 2000m Mersey Wheelrace at the Devonport Carnival will sit comfortably amongst in trophy cabinet.
Born in Swan Hill near the Murray River, O'Shea now resides in the central Victorian city of Bendigo and is rapidly putting hometown on the world map. He was one of four scratchmen to qualify for the Mersey Wheel final, a placement that was always going to make things difficult for the fronties or middlemarkers to repeat their wins at the Latrobe Boxing Day or last Sunday's Launceston Carnival.
Teenager Brandon Stewart was a surprise winner of the Latrobe Wheel, while Malaysian Olympian Rizal Tisin showed a super turn of speed on the indoor track at the Silverdome to win the Launceston Wheel. Tisin missed qualifying for the Mersey Wheel, but Stewart showed his new 2000m handicap of 100m (down from 170m) wasn't too much of a burden, by taking his place in yet another final.
This time however, there was too much power behind Stewart to hold the backmarkers out of the placings.
O'Shea, who has been in good form throughout the early part of the Tassie Carnivals had already won the Latrobe and Launceston A Grade scratch races, was second in the Latrobe Elimination and went one better in the corresponding race at the Silverdome. He had also qualified for the 2000m Launceston Wheel final before finishing third behind Tisin and Luke Ockerby. But on the wide open 490m Devonport Oval track and with the ever present sea breeze hitting riders in the back straight, O'Shea was always going to be hard to beat.
Joining him on the elite scratch mark for the final was Tasmanian trio Matthew Goss, Mark Jamieson and Nathan Clarke.
Most of Tasmania's major wheelraces - outside of the 2004 Latrobe Wheel - have eluded Clarke, but he has ridden a multitude of minor placings and the 2008 Mersey Wheel will be added to that category after he finished second to O'Shea in yet another tight finish.
Third home was consistent West Australian Doug Repacholi and fourth was exciting Geelong based rider James Langedyk.
With seven riders handicapped from scratch out to 50m in the final, the front markers literally had very little chance.
Earlier this year, O'Shea teamed with Leigh Howard to win the Amsterdam Under 23 3-Day race as well as claiming victory in the Oceania Championships scratch race, the Australian Madison (with Howard) and the Australian Teams Pursuit Championship.
The opening night of the Devonport Carnival also included a 1000m lightning handicap, won by Ben Sanders, son of well known Victorian cycling coach Dave Sanders and five graded scratch races, where O'Shea confirmed his status as this week's best rider, by winning his third consecutive A Grade title.
The cycling action however was marred by yet another nasty fall, this time involving leading Tasmanian female rider, Laura McCaughey. McCaughey, the Tasmanian criterium champion and New Zealand's Katie Mullarkey wereracing for the lead in the home straight on the 13th lap of the 20-lap UCI International points score when McCaughey fell in front of the Kiwi. Mullarkey was unable to avoid McCaughey, was catapulted high in the air and landed heavily on the track.
As officials tried to slow the remainder of the field down to avoid Mullarkey and McCaughey, Hong Kong rider Xiao Juan Diao cannoned into one of the officials and also crashed. Mullarkey received arm and shoulder injuries, McCaughey head injuries and Xiao suffered minor cuts and bruises. All three cyclists were taken to the local hospital. Officials abandoned that race following the crash and it will be re-run at the second night of the carnival.
Riders will enjoy a rest day tomorrow before the prestigious Burnie New Year's Day Carnival. The Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals will then wind down with the Hobart on Sunday and St Helens on January 17.