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Dimmeys - Forges Stores Wheelrace - IM
Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2003
Perkins takes out Wheelrace
Report by Mal Sawford
A record field of almost 150 cyclists contested this year's running of the prestigious Dimmeys - Forges Stores Wheelrace carnival, round 3 of the Fitzroy Cycles International Track Cycling Series. With only two riders, Shane Kelly and Darren Young, given the honor of riding from Scratch in the feature event, the odds were stacked against the back markers from the outset.
The task was too much for former World Champion Kelly, having only resumed training in the last 5 weeks, as he narrowly missed qualifying for the 2000 meter final. Former Austral winner Young had more success by winning his heat with a perfectly timed run down the back straight to run out a narrow winner, but gave away 40 meters to the closest rider in the final and was unable to make an impact.
Riders from the middle marks impressed in the heats; David Coultas riding from 110 meters, winner of the event in 1988, bolted away at the bell in the first heat to win by the length of the straight and was the early favorite. Veteran star Glen Hutchinson (160m), Steve Martin (170m) and Under 19 riders Simon Clarke (120m) and Daniel Thorson (100M) all won heats decided by close sprints.
In the opening laps of the final, the field consolidated into 4 groups. Front markers Daniel Burtt (195m) and Darren Spiteri (200m) lead Hutchinson, Steve Martin and Matt Pope (175m), from a group of 8 riders. Shane Perkins (85m) joined Thorson, South Australian Scott Moller (105m), Coultas, Jamie Goddard (105m), Clarke, Laurie Noonan (135m) and Andrew Steel (135m) trying to hold off Joel Leonard (40m), Brad Norton (50m) and Tasmanian Stephen Rossendell (50m).
With four laps to go, the two front groups had merged with the gaps to the remaining bunches vanishing fast, and at 2 laps to go, all 16 riders still in contention were together and the pace stepped up a notch. Thorson found his way through the bunch and looked a likely winner, until Perkins showed his amazing speed to come around the outside with half a lap to travel, to take out a thrilling win. Rossendell and Leonard claimed the minor placings.
His triumphant double armed salute to the crowd as he crossed the line nearly brought him unstuck in more ways than one, as a huge second effort from Thorson almost cost Perkins the win, and his salute nearly threw him from his bike! Chief Commisaire Doug Armstrong took a dim view of his actions, fining the young champion $100 of his $2000 winners cheque for dangerous riding.
Presenting the prizes for the Wheelrace was Dimmeys - Forges public face, Patron and AFL Football champion Robert 'Dipper' Dipierdomenico. Both Perkins and Thorson have strong Football bloodlines; Thorson, whose father played at the top level, has excelled as a junior in Shepparton and has only recently decided to put his full focus on cycling, while Perkins' Grandfather Polly was a member of the 1942 Richmond Premiership side, and his father Daryl played for the Richmond Under 19's before getting the cycling bug (culminating in competing in the Sprint at the Tokyo Olympics).
The two top place getters from the Wheelrace backed up minutes later to contest the final of the Victorian Under 19 Keirin Championship, with the final result a duplicate of the Wheelrace. Perkins was always in control, hitting the front a lap from home after staying well clear of the bumping duels behind the pacing bike in the early stages, and showing Thorson a clean set of wheels as he sped to the line. Perkins' club mate Simon Clarke, better known as an endurance rider, also took advantage of the Wheelrace final 'warm up' to take out the Bronze Medal.
Perkins and Thorson shared the sprint event Gold Medals at the 2002 Under 17 Australian Track Championships in Alice Springs and are both only 16 years of age. Perkins is coached by Hilton Clarke, who also trained two time World Junior Champion Mark French, and has similar ambitions for his current charge, while Thorson is under the guidance of former World Professional 200m record holder John Kennedy. Kennedy believes his pupil shows greater potential than Stephen Pate at the same age; it seems the pair are destined for a long rivalry with the sky the limit.
Another highlight for the crowd was the three race Omnium series between reigning World Champion Jobie Djaka and crowd favorite Shane Kelly. Despite his recent return to training, Kelly's competitive spirit ensured extremely close races. The opening Sprint match saw Dajka, a pure sprinter favored over the Kilo specialist Kelly, and the favorite duly delivered by the narrowest of margins.
Race two was a 500 meter Time Trial, more suited to Kelly. Nothing split the pair at every checkpoint, and at the line it was too close to call. The score board initially showed an upset, but a check by the photo finish camera gave a narrow victory to Kelly in the impressive time of 33.06 seconds. The final event was a flying lap, with Kelly was first off, and after being led out by the motorbike he flew around the 250 meter track in a record time of 13.100 seconds. Dajka set off, and called for the crowd to cheer him on as he wound up to top speed, before smashing the lap record with a sensational 12.982 seconds, taking the Omnium Series at a fraction under 70 km/h!
Kelly then evened the score in the final of the Aces Keirin, after both riders easily qualified by winning their heats. The photo finish was once again required as Dajka came around the outside down the straight to overhaul the front runner, but the win went to Kelly by the width of a tyre.
In other racing, the Fortress Flooring Women's Handicap saw the outmarkers take a rare win, with Sigrid Pitkin and Nicole Holt combining perfectly to hold off the field, with Pitkin taking the biggest win of her career. The Women's Points race saw Rachel Rademaker hold off Australian Women's Criterium Champion Lizzie Williams and Kylie Howlett in an impressive display of speed and stamina.
Todd Wilksch took out the Aces Elimination ahead of Robert Wilson and Junior World Championship medallist Nic Sanderson, while Melbourne Cup on Wheels winner Richard England took the Aces Scratch race to close proceedings. The adrenaline rush kicked in when a fall 8 laps from home took out UK visitor Steve Cummings and Leigh Egan, with the falling riders clipping England's rear wheel. England took off, bridging to solo leader David Coultas, and then went alone over the final 4 laps to hold off the charging bunch led home by Darren Young.
Round 4 of the Fitzroy Cycles International Track Cycling Series is Australia's oldest and greatest track cycling event, the Austral Wheelrace, to be held at Vodafone Arena on March 15. The Austral is sure to once again attract a capacity crowd, so get your tickets early through Ticketek on 13 28 49.
Images by Mal Sawford
Dimmeys - Forges Wheel Race - 200 Metres 1. Shane Perkins 2.09.964 2. Daniel Thorsen 3. Stephen Rossendell Omnium Challenge - Jobie Dajka (SA) versus Shane Kelly (VIC) Round 1. - Sprint: J Dajka 11.53 Round 2. - 500m. Pursuit: S Kelly 33.06 Round 3. - Flying Lap: J Dajka 12.982 Women's Points Race 1. Rachel Rademaker 2. Lizzie Williams 3. Kylie Howlett Victorian Under 19 Men's Keirin Championship 1. Shane Perkins 11.002 2. Daniel Thorsen 3. Simon Clarke Aces Elimination 1. Todd Wilksch 2. Robert Wilson 3. Nicholas Sanderson M17 Scratch race 1. Zak Dempster 2. Travis Hull 3. Simon Barkla D Grade Points race 1. Lawrie Naughton 2. Andrew Snelling 3. Reece Van Beek Women's Handicap 1. Sigrid Pitkin 2. Nicole Holt 3. Apryl Eppinger M17 Elimination 1. Gerard Murphy 2. Mario Giramindo 3. Taigh Banson C Grade Points Race 1. Daniel Burtt 2. Peter Ladd 3. Andrew Shannon Aces Keirin 1. Shane Kelly 2. Jobie Dajka 3. Joel Leonard D Grade Elimination 1. Reece Ingram 2. Reece Van Beek 3. Evan Corry B Grade Group Pursuit 1. Back straight team Aces Scratch Race 1. Richard England 2. Darren Young 3. Nicholas Sanderson
2002 Nicholas Sanderson 2001 Warren Knevitt (off 120 metres).