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Launceston Cycling Carnival - IM
Launceston Silverdome, Australia, December 28, 2002
Gilmore and Aitken on fire at Launceston Carnival
By Gerard Knapp
On December 28 the Tasmanian Christmas Carnival Series moved into Launceston's Silverdome and once again, the field included an array of current and former world champions competing on the steeply banked timber velodrome.
In what is a long day for the riders, the racing commenced at 12.30pm and continued on until after 11pm, featuring over 70 events. The crowd was estimated to be over 4000 as the locals came out to support their local riders and watch the international stars.
The premier events for the night are the Launceston Wheelraces for men and women, as well as the 200-lap Madison. The Wheelraces are an Australian tradition and although non-championship events, they are always keenly contested as they have the greatest amount of prize money on offer. A wheelrace is typically a 2000 metre handicap event open to a wide range of riders. Riders start from a variety of positions around the track, with their handicap (or position) based on current grading and past performances. The top riders start from the 'scratch mark' - which in this case was the start-finish line - and they are sometimes up to 250 metres behind the first riders.
With 'head starts' provided to the majority of the field, it is always possible that the front and middle markers can get organised and work together to hold off the highly-fancied 'scratch' riders, which in the men's event at Launceston included three current track world champions - such as Graeme Brown, Stephen Wooldridge and Mark Renshaw, and highly-credentialed Six Day riders such as Matthew Gilmore and Jame Carney.
Just as in the Latrobe Wheelrace two days earlier, a group of middle-markers did indeed hold off a classy field, with Tasmanian rider Brendan Geale starting off 110 metres and powering home to take the win ahead of fellow middlemarkers Clint Johnson (150 metres) and Karl Menzies (110 metres). It was another strong ride by Menzies, as he was also one of the major protagonists in the Launceston Classic road criterium held the previous day.
So it was a case of local riders clinching first and third places, with the Victorian Johnson spoiling the trifecta for the home state.
"I didn't think the 'scratchies' would catch us, actually," Geale said afterwards. The 25 year old apprentice panel-beater threw his helmet into the air on his victory lap and was clearly delighted with his win, given that he had previously run second in this event and had not scored a major Wheelrace victory in Australia since the Rockhampton Wheelrace when he was only 16. "Yeah, I got a little bit excited but after nine years of running second, I felt that I had served my time."
It's understood that Geale's efforts in Launceston will result in his handicap being changed to anything from 40 - 60 metres over 2km events for the remainder of the series.
The women's Launceston Wheelrace was dominated by two interstate riders: Kerrie Meares and Rochelle Gilmore. Both are exceptional track riders and coming off scratch (along with Tasmanian junior Belinda Goss), the two interstate riders obliterated the handicap, so that they had caught the front and middle markers with four laps to go. From that point, it was a relatively easy win for Gilmore, who clearly has the fastest sprint in these 2km events.
A desperate attempt by Goss to come under the field on the last bend resulted in her relegation, with fellow Tasmanian riders Kirby Piscioneri and Stephanie Williams taking second and third. In fact, Gilmore won each race she contested and also took home a bonus prize for most consistent rider.
Another Gilmore was also on fire at the Silverdome, none other than Six Day superstar Matthew Gilmore (no relation) who took out the last event for the evening, the 200-lap Madison, along with his partner Brett Aitken. It has to be reported that Aitken is rapidly regaining his sensational form that secured him a gold medal in this event at the 2000 Olympics, while Gilmore has just come from a successful Six Day series in Europe.
Although Gilmore represents Belgium in the World's and Olympics, he said his motivation at the Silverdome was to put on a good show "in front of my home crowd", in reference to the state where his father was born and where he has been a regular visitor since a child. He still speaks with a slight Australian accent, despite his years in Belgium.
It was with apparent ease that Gilmore and Aitken took a lap on the field, which included teams such as Brown/Carney, Brett Dawson/Ben Brooks, Mark Renshaw/Stephen Wooldridge, Jeff Hopkins/Mike Tillman, Mark Jamieson/Nick Sanderson and Tasmanian Madison champions Nathan Clarke/Garath Atkins.
The attack was started by Aitken (who was partnering with a silver medallist from the 2000 Olympics in the same event) and the South Australian took half a lap within seconds. He worked with Gilmore for some 20 laps to make contact with the rear of the main field, as Renshaw/Wooldridge, Hopkins/Tillman, Dawson/Brooks and Carney/Brown all tried to pull them back.
Despite taking a lap on the field and being unassailably in the lead, Aitken and Gilmore continued to work together to contest the intermediate sprints. With 60 laps to go Brown and Carney put in a big effort to try and lap the field and bring themselves up to Aitken/Gilmore, but the two champions easily snuffed out this attempt.
It appeared that racing in the previous day's criterium had not taken anything out of the duo, as Brown/Carney were highly favoured for this event due to Brown not racing the previous day. Two non-starters in the Madison were Jay Sweet and Luke Roberts, as their efforts in the previous day's criterium and post-race activities had seemingly taken their toll.
With 32 to go Gilmore once again attacked and went after another lap on the field (plus a $250 bonus from their sponsor), but this time Clarke, Carney and Renshaw all worked hard to chase him down. The field stayed together until the end with Gilmore/Aitken finishing with 44 points plus one lap, while Brown/Carney displayed excellent teamwork and finishing speed to take out the majority of the intermediate sprints and finished with 56 points and Renshaw/Wooldridge came in third on 32 points.
After the race, Gilmore said the attack with Aitken was not pre-meditated: "It was a good moment to attack," he said. "It wasn't planned at all."
Gilmore said "It's nice to be able to demonstrate this style of racing in front of my home crowd."
Interestingly, it was the first win for the two champions working as a team. Aitken modestly said "I've got a lot to learn from the best Six Day rider in the world."
It seemed that the long day of racing, and the criterium held the previous day, had taken its toll on some in the field. "It's a very long day," Gilmore said. "We started at 12.30 and it's now well after 11pm. But it's great for us, as we're track endurance riders, especially with the criterium in-between the two carnivals."
Earlier in the evening, Gilmore once again pulled off a win over 'Brownie', taking out a very fast A Grade scratch race by a tyre's width, while Renshaw got a win over Gilmore in the motor-paced event with a huge burst of speed to come around the outside on the last lap.
In the 1km Lightning Handicap, their was some revenge for Brownie who took out this event ahead of Hopkins and Aitken, with Sean Eadie putting in some huge turns to help erode the scratchies' starting deficit. Eadie also won the invitational keirin in front of Brown, but the world champion sprinter was beaten by US rider Jeff Lebauve in their one-on-one sprint heat.
Local riders winning is very important for the crowd, who not only generously applaud the visiting world champions, but cheer just as loudly for the junior and lower graded events, as that is more likely where their friends and relatives are racing. It also has to be said that the standard of track racing displayed by the juniors is very impressive, with the young riders showing great bike handling skills and good form on their bikes.
One of the closest and most exciting races of the carnival was the Under 17 Wheelrace, open to boys and girls. Frontmarker Natasha Mapley put her head down and rode strongly to maintain a half-lap lead until the very last lap, when Nathan Bonham and Kaiden Homan put in huge efforts to bring her back.
As Mapley was tiring with two boys kept going harder, the crowd willing on Mapley who was just caught on the line by the chasing duo and only a wheel width separated the three. The judges required the finish line camera to separate the trio, with Bonham declared the winner, Homan second and Mapley third.
In the Under 15 Wheelrace, a star of the future may be uncovered as solo scratch-marker Will Robinson pulled back an enormous deficit on his own to take out another exciting junior event, covering the 2km race distance in 2.29.82 (by comparison, the open women's wheelrace was won in 2.31.03).
Images by Gerard Knapp/Cyclingnews.com
200 lap Madison 1 Brett Aitken/Mathew Gilmore 44 pts 1 lap behind 2 Graeme Brown/Jame Carney 56 3 Mark Renshaw/Stephen Wooldridge 32 4 Markus Kammerman/Robert Wilson 20 5 Nathan Clarke/Gareth Atkins 18 6 Jeff Hopkins/Mike Tillman 15 7 Mark Jamieson/Nick Sanderson 9 8 Brett Dawson/Ben Brooks 7 9 Tim Dekker/Todd Wilksch 6 10 Daniel Cutting/Caleb Manion 2 11 Kouji Yoshii/Brendan Geale 0 DNF Michael Ford/Andrew Loft DNF Stephen Rossendell/Lee De Luca Praties Tasmania Launceston Wheelrace 1 Brendan Geale (110) 2.03.41 2 Clint Johnson (150) 3 Karl Menzies (100) 4 Ryan Johnson (180) Other finalists Jame Carney, Graeme Brown, Mark Renshaw, Jeff Hopkins, Nathan Clarke, Markus Kammerman, Andrew Loft, Matt Goss, Matthew Atkins, Ian Leighton, Stephen Rossendell, Nathan Hingston, Michael Johnson, Brenton Crawley. 2000 m Handicap 1 Brendan Geale (110) 2.04.81 2 Damien Keirl (140) 3 Cameron Wise (185) 4 David Oliver (160) Other finalists Mark Jamieson, Jason Niblett, Brenton Crawley, Rochelle Gilmore, Matt Goss, Andrew Loft, Ben Rix, Ryan Johnson, Michael Johnson, Stephen Rossendell, Karl Menzies, Kerrie Meares, David Klyne, Andrew Simpson. 1000 m Lightning Handicap 1 Graeme Brown (scr) 1.11.02 2 Jeff Hopkins (scr) 3 Brett Aitken (scr) 4 Carlo Barendilla (60) Other finalists Brett Lehman, Matthew Atkins, Cameron Wise, Annorie Koh, Damien Keirl, Shane Perkins, Ian Leighton, Stephen Rossendell, Jason Niblett, Sean Eadie Women's Invitation Wheelrace 1 Rochelle Gilmore (scr) 2.31.03 2 Kirby Piscioneri (50) 3 Stephanie Williams (55) 4 Louise Yaxley (30) A Grade Elimination 1 Robert Wilson 2 Graeme Brown 3 Matthew Gilmore B Grade Elimination 1 Brendan Geale 2 ? 3 Lee De Luca C Grade Elimination 1 Matthew Atkins 2 Ben Rix 3 Ian Leighton D Grade Elimination 1 Ryan Johnson 2 Nathan Hingston 3 Cameron Wise E Grade Elimination 1 Brenton Crawley 2 Reece-Emmerson van Beek 3 Josh Wilson F Grade Elimination 1 Nathan Kean 2 Fred Guilbert 3 Garry Polack Women's Invitation Elimination 1 Rochelle Gilmore 2 Louise Yaxley 3 Liz Williams A Grade Scratch 1 Matthew Gilmore 13.26.51 2 Graeme Brown 3 Brett Aitken 4 Stephen Rossendell B Grade Scratch 1 Carlo Barendilla 2 Neil Campbell 3 Grant Young 4 Karl Menzies C Grade Scratch 1 Damien Keirl 2 Laurie Venn 3 Matt Goss 4 Matthew Atkins D Grade Scratch 1 Ryan Johnson 7.41.77 2 Cameron Wise 3 Rochelle Gilmore 4 Nathan Hingston E Grade Scratch 1 Brenton Crawley 7.27.71 2 Michael Johnson 3 Kharne Hammersley 4 Brett Lehman F Grade Scratch 1 Nathan Kean 7.35.54 2 Garry Polack 3 Liz Williams 4 Fred Guilbert Women's Invitation Scratch 1 Rochelle Gilmore 5.54.68 2 Belinda Goss 3 Kirby Piscioneri 4 Kerrie Meares Invitation Motor Pace 1 Mark Renshaw 5.48.41 2 Matthew Gilmore 3 Stephen Woolridge 4 Markus Kammerman Keirin 1 Sean Eadie 2.35.65 2 Graeme Brown 3 Todd Wilksch 4 Jeff Hopkins Other finalists Annorie Koh, Neil Campbell, Joel Leonard, Jeff Labauve Invitation Match Race 1 Jeff Labauve (USA) 11.67 (last 200 m) 2 Sean Eadie (Aust.) Invitation Derby 1 Sean Eadie 12.61 (last 200 m) 2 Brett Aitken 3 Joel Leonard 4 Neil Campbell JUNIORS J1 Launceston Wheelrace 1 Matthew Bonham (90) 2.21.94 2 Kaiden Homan (100) 3 Natasha Mapley (240) 4 Cameron Flint (20) J2 Launceston Wheelrace 1 Will Robinson (scr) 2.29.82 2 Clay Murfett (110) 3 Alex Lyons (170) 4 Luke Carr (100) J3 Launceston Wheelrace 1 Brenden Sutton (scr) 1.34.25 2 Ed Robinson (scr) 3 David Lyons (20) 4 Jake Laskey (110) J1 2000 m Handicap 1 Natasha Mapley (240) 2 Matthew Bonham (100) 3 Adam Davis (60) 4 Jarrod Harman (80) J2 2000 m Handicap Race A 1 Will Robinson (scr) 2.32.82 2 Sean Oliver (100) 3 Ben Laskey (170) 4 Angela Klyne (150) J2 2000 m Handicap Race B 1 Carrie Price (230) 2.31.63 2 Hugh Williams (210) 3 Lennon Duncombe (190) 4 Luke Carr (190) J1 Elimination 1 Adam Davis 2 Josh Myers 3 John Rayner J2 Elimination 1 Will Robinson 2 Aaron Jones 3 Clay Murfett J3 Elimination 1 Brenden Sutton 2 Matthew Laskey 3 David Lyons J1 Scratch 1 Cameron Flint 2.40.43 2 Tim Walker 3 Adam Davis 4 Josh Myers J2 A Grade Scratch 1 Will Robinson 2 Alex Holden 3 Aaron Jones J2 B Grade Scratch 1 Luke Carr 2 Samantha Hellyer 3 Carrie Price J3 A Grade Scratch 1 Brenden Sutton 2 Ed Robinson 3 David Lyons J3 B Grade Scratch 1 Jake Laskey 2 Peter Loft 3 Jacob Fielding