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Devonport Christmas Carnival - IM
Devonport, Australia, December 29-30, 2002
Day 2 - December 30
Late rain drowns Wheelrace final, but not before Eadie takes a record
By Gerard Knapp in Devonport
Day 2 of the Devonport Christmas Carnival ended abruptly due to a heavy rain shower just before the final of the Devonport Wheelrace, the main cycling event for the whole two-day carnival. The rain started to fall as the first of the riders assembled in their handicap positions but as the racing is held on an outdoor, banked concrete circuit, the organisers deemed it was too dangerous for racing and postponed the final - and the remaining scratch races - to be held on New Year's Eve.
Before the rain fell, the large crowd of several thousand spectators were treated to yet another display by the travelling showman of sprint cycling, current world sprint champion Sean Eadie. One of the Devonport track's records is for a flying 200m time trial that was set in 1997 by Shane Kelly, who recorded a 10.53 for a blast along the outdoor circuit.
It is similar to what sprinters go through for qualifying at a championship event, but in this case it's an opportunity for the big guys to really crank up the speed in front of the large crowds because in this Devonport special, they can draft behind a motorcycle until the final timed section.
Earlier in the night, Eadie and the other sprinters attending the carnival each had a turn behind the Triumph and then let it rip down the back section of the track in the scheduled 200m TT. There was a slight crosswind prevailing and in his first attempt, Eadie recorded a 10.61 (average speed 67.86kmh). Although fastest among the riders present, he wanted to go after Kelly's record so he changed up from a 96" gear to a 99".
He told Cyclingnews "this should stop the rear wheel skipping around" and with his current gym oriented training, he just didn't have the leg speed which comes from velodrome training (he normally uses a 95" gear to qualify inside a velodrome).
In his next attempt later in the evening, Eadie came off the back of the motorcycle at between "75 and 80 km/h", the motorcycle rider told Cyclingnews and flew around the track in 10.47 seconds at an average speed of 68.76kmh, clearly beating Kelly's record which had stood for five years.
The large crowd loved the big show and gave the sprinter a huge round of applause.
Another bright note was the return to the track of Kerri Meares after her dramatic fall on the first night of competition. Australia's female track cyclist of the year for 2002, Meares crashed heavily in the C Grade scratch race the previous evening, but was back on her bike with a fractured wrist that was heavily strapped, as well as many bandages covering the extensive abrasions she suffered in the bell-lap fall.
"I've come out here to support the women's cycling events," Meares said before the start of the Women's Scratch race, "but I won't be real competitive."
Meares raced cautiously in the Scratch Race and eventually pulled up before the end, but not before she had led the bunch past the start-finish line at genuine speed. The event was taken out by a dominant Rochelle Gilmore, with the NSW rider easily defeating Tasmania's Belinda Goss and Kirby Piscioneri, with Liz Williams from New Zealand in fourth.
After being presented with her award, Gilmore said the female competitors understood that organisers were planning to withdraw the women's-only cycling events from next year's carnivals. So the riders had organised a petition and they had already secured over 2000 names, "and not one person has said that there should be no women's cycling events", she said.
This solidarity among the young women was the reason that Meares also got on her bike in a less than ideal state and put in some turns during the scratch event. Gilmore said it was a major commitment for overseas-based riders to come to Tasmania so close to Christmas - "when we're only at home for one month of the year anyway" - and try to support the sport, only to have their participation reduced to two events in a day of competition.
While the women are also entered into the heats of the major wheelraces competing against the male riders, only riders of Gilmore's calibre can really progress to the finals.
"The point of these wheelraces is to encourage the younger ones and give them a chance to compete against the more experienced riders," she said.
It's understood that the women were to present their petition to an organising committee meeting at the end of this carnival.
Gilmore then had to take part in her heat of the Devonport wheelrace - held only 15 minutes after the women's scratch race (which she won) - where she ran third against all-male competition. It's believed to be the first time a woman has qualified for the final of this keenly-contested handicap event.
In other racing held earlier in the day, Tasmanian rider Matthew Atkins took out the Men's 2000 metre Handicap in 2.07.13, with Cameron Wise in second and Mark Jamieson third.
Race commentator Steve Daley told the crowd how Atkins has recently overcome chronic fatigue syndrome, which he suffered for three years. The commentators were also impressed with Jamieson's ride for third, with one stating "he brought back memories of watching the late and great Max Sloane".
The men's Miss & Out (elimination race) was taken out by Matthew Gilmore (no relation) from Nathan Clarke and Darren Young, while Rochelle Gilmore won the women's elimination race ahead of Belinda Goss and Liz Williams. Eadie easily won the 2-lap sprint derby against a field including all the big guns (Jeff Lebauve, Jeff Hopkins, Todd Wilksch and Jame Carney), and then backed up for a huge two-lap turn on the front as he helped the backmarkers eradicate their deficit in his round of the Devonport Wheelrace.
All the other wheelrace heats were held and the final 24 riders have been decided to contest the final, which will now take place on December 31.
NEWS UPDATE: 16.00, December 31, 2002: Due to constant rain, organisers have decided to abandon running the final of the Devonport wheelrace and graded scratch races which were held over to New year's Eve. There is a possibility the Devonport Wheelrace final could be held at the Burnie Christmas Carnival, which is set down for New Year's Day, but this carnival may also be affected by the weather. It is the first time in the carnival's history that weather has prevented the running of the Devonport Wheelrace, which has been held since 1937. The only other time the event was not held was in 1943, due to the affects of World War 2. See below for the final field of 24 riders set down to compete. It is not known at this stage what will happen to the prize money or the event.
Images by Gerard Knapp/Cyclingnews.com
Men's 2000 metre Handicap 1 Matthew Atkins 2.07.13 (130 metre handicap) 2 Cameron Wise (185) 3 Mark Jamieson (40) 4 Daniel Cutting (50) 5 Damien Kierl (110) Invitation Flying 200 m * Sean Eadie (second attempt) 10.47 seconds (average speed, 68.76 kph) *new track record 1 Sean Eadie 10.61 (67.86) 2 Neil Campbell 10.95 (65.75) 3 Jeff Labauve 11.09 (64.92) 4 Shane Perkins 11.30 (63.72) Men's Miss & Out 1 Matthew Gilmore 13.49 (last 200m) 2 Nathan Clarke 3 Darren Young Women's Miss & Out 1 Rochelle Gilmore 15.17 (last 200m) 2 Belinda Goss 3 Liz Williams Sprint Derby 1 Sean Eadie 11.90 (last 200m) 2 Jame Carney 3 Jeff Lebauve Women's Scratch Race 4000m 1 Rochelle Gilmore 5.34.54 2 Belinda Goss 3 Kirby Piscioneri 4 Liz Williams D Grade Scratch 1 Michael Johnson 5.01.42 2 Nathan Kean 3 Jason Bellchambers 4 Brett Lehman E Grade Scratch 1 Garry Polack 5.25.74 2 Liz Williams 3 Colin Barnes 4 Fred Guilbert Devonport Wheelrace 3000m final handicap positions (race abandoned due to rain) Brett Aitken Scratch Matthew Gilmore Scratch Jame Carney Scratch Nathan Clarke Scratch Joel Leonard 60 metres Mark Jamieson 75 metres Daniel Cutting 75 metres Tim Dekker 90 metres Nic Sanderson 90 metres Kouji Yoshil 105 metres Stephen Rossendell 105 metres Grant Young 120 metres Neil Campbell 120 metres Stephen Pearce 135 metres Karl Menzies 150 metres Carlo Barendilla 180 metres Matthew Atkins 195 metres Laurie Venn 210 metres Rochelle Gilmore 280 metres Cameron Wise 280 metres Michael Johnson 300 metres Brenton Crawley 315 metres Trent Deacon 330 metres Reece-Emmerson Van Beek 350 metres