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Fitzroy Cycles 50 km Points Score Classic

Melbourne, February 13, 2003

Unstoppable Finning powers to attacking victory

By Malcolm Sawford

Lead trio
Photo: © Malcolm Sawford
Click for larger image

Carnegie Caulfield's annual twilight track open, the 50 km Points Score Classic, was raced under sunny skies by a classy field featuring the cream of Victoria's endurance riders. On a windy night, 135 laps of the gently banked outdoor velodrome would be a big ask for all but the fittest and strongest riders.

Early favorites came from the strong Jayco Victorian Institute of Sport squad, featuring Junior World Championships medallists Nic Sanderson and Sean Finning. Others bound to be in contention were strong sprinter Todd Wilksch, wearing Fitzroy Cycles, the race co-sponsors, colors, Bay Series stage winner Will Walker (CBD Cycles) had impressed in his first attempt at the event in 2002, and Swiss junior star Ralf Zimmermann had been showing signs of form in local criteriums.

With the first sprint 15 laps in, and then at 10 lap intervals to the 50 laps to go point, the opening laps are often a chance for riders to test themselves and see who looks strong. Points are awarded 5, 3, 2 and 1 to the first 4 riders over the line at each of the intermediate sprints, with the half way and final sprints counting double. With sprints coming at only 5 lap intervals for the last 50 laps, riders who have conserved energy usually appear from nowhere and can often completely reshape the leaders board. The 2003 race would be the first Classic run under the new UCI rules awarding bonus points for riders lapping the field, ensuring all riders would take an interest in the early points up for grabs.

After the opening sprint was taken out Sanderson, Finning jumped out of the field, and riding effortlessly stayed clear to take the second sprint before the field chased up. Wilksch and Sanderson picked up another win each before Melbourne Cup on Wheels winner Richard England stole away with young Will Walker and snatched the double points special sprint at 70 laps to go.

With Finning, Sanderson and England level on 13 points at that point, the race was wide open, until Finning, in an awesome display of power and stamina attacked the field and opened a lead of almost half a lap. Fighting the stiffening breeze, the powerfully built rider held his lead lap after lap, taking the next 5 sprints, and claiming all the cash prizes donated from the crowd. When he was finally reeled in after his 25 lap solo, he lead the field with 38 points, with England a distant second on 21.

Zimmermann made his move from the back of the field before the sprint at 30 laps to go, as the gaps were starting to appear in the bunch. Finning and England were quick to respond, and the trio was soon half a lap clear and closing in on the tail of the field. England closed the gap with 17 laps remaining, and after a half hearted attempt to unload the Swiss rider, Finning soon followed. With 20 points bonus to each rider for taking the lap, Finning's 70 points made him virtually unbeatable, while England had a comfortable hold on second place.

Sunset podium
Photo: © Malcolm Sawford
Click for larger image

Zimmermann had jumped to third place, but his lead was a slender 5 points over Sanderson with the final double points sprint worth 10 points and a cash prize to the winner. Sanderson only managed 4th in the dash to the line, but Wilksch showed his superior speed to come round the bunch in the final straight to claim maximum points and steal 3rd place by a solitary point!

The winner was asked whether his early attack was pre-planned, and replied 'That's just the way I like to ride. I like to ride hard, the few times the bunch slowed was when I hit them.' The 17 year old from Castlemaine has been training in Melbourne for the past month under VIS head coach Dave Sanders in preparation for the National titles and the Junior World Championships, and this morning completed one of Davo's epic motor pace sessions through the hills of the Mornington Peninsula. He was so focused on his solo efforts during the race that he did not hear the race commentators announcements of the special sprint prizes, so received an unexpected bonus during the presentation.


Images by Malcolm Sawford

Results, 50km

1 Sean Finning (Castlemaine CC)              75 pts
2 Richard England (Blackburn CC)             50
3 Todd Wilksch (Horsham CC)                  34
4 Ralf Zimmermann (Switzerland)              33
5 Nic Sanderson (Ararat CC)                  30
6 Michael Ford (Carnegie Caulfield CC)       19
7 Simon Clarke (Carnegie Caulfield CC)       11
8 William Walker (Brunswick CC)              10
9 Aaron Salisbury (Carnegie Caulfield CC)     3
10 Peter Trigar (Brunswick CC)                3

Previous Results from Australia