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St Helens Carnival - IM
St Helens, Tasmania, January 18, 2003
Tassie scratchman shows his true colours
By Rod Morris in St Helens
It may have taken Nathan Clarke till the last meeting of the summer, but he showed his true form at the St Helens Carnival.
The 24-year-old Latrobe rider, produced a powerhouse display in the $1000 St Helens Wheelrace, to win the title for the first time. Riding from the elite scratch mark, Clarke had to call on every ounce of his renowned strength over the closing lap.
A strong headwind greeted the field in the back straight, with Clarke giving the leaders at least a 100m advantage when he heard the bell signalling the final circuit of the picturesque ground. Diminuitive Launceston rider Dwayne Smith had thrown out the challenge, and with 200 m left to travel, looked every inch the winner.
But Clarke was in top gear and motoring at full speed and in the home straight caught and passed the luckless Smith. Clarke had previously finished second to his Mersey Valley-Devonport Cycling Club teammate Gareth Atkins in the 1999 St Helens Wheel. Third home was former weightlifter Jason Johnson of Hobart.
Earlier in the day, Clarke had won the 1000m Lightning Handicap for the second time in four years and then to close the carnival, finished second to Stephen Rossendell in the A Grade Scratch. Junior wheelrace winners included Ben Laskey (J1), Carrie Price (J2) and Jack Stokes (J3).
Cycling Tasmania's rider-of-the-season awards were also finalised at the St Helens Carnival. While Rochelle Gilmore and Will Robinson couldn't be beaten in the female and junior categories, the male rider section went right to the wire.
Burnie's Michael Johnson started the day three points clear of his only real rival, Ryan Johnson (no relation) of Launceston. Ryan edged closer to his namesake when he finished fourth in the Lightning Handicap and then picked up another valuable point for finishing fourth in the St Helens.
The season award then came down to the B Grade Scratch, in which the two Johnson's watched each other ever so closely. In the final sprint, Michael Johnson ensured the award would be his by claiming fourth spot, three positions ahead of Ryan.
The award is based on a 5-3-2-1 points system from all handicap finals and scratch races. Specialist races such as keirins, eliminations, derbys etc. did not count towards the championship. Now in its second year, the inaugural winners were Jame Carney (male) and Belinda Goss (female).
St Helens Wheelrace 1 Nathan Clarke (scr) 2 Dwayne Smith (210) 3 Jason Johnson (120) 4 Ryan Johnson (160) 5 Kaidan Homan (210) Time: 2.18.56 Open Lightning Handicap 1 Nathan Clarke (scr) 2 Jason Johnson (60) 3 Gareth Atkins (10) 4 Ryan Johnson (80) Time: 1.05.80 A Grade Scratch 1 Stephen Rossendell 2 Nathan Clarke 3 Gareth Atkins 4 Laurie Venn Time: 9.54.92 B Grade Scratch 1 David Klyne 2 Dwayne Smith 3 David Oliver 4 Michael Johnson Time: 7.18.67 C Grade Scratch 1 Kaidan Homan 2 Brett Lehman 3 Josh Wilson 4 Paul Wilson Time: 6.33.43 J1 Wheelrace 1 Ben Laskey (240) 2 Natasha Mapley (180) 3 Grace Sulzberger (230) 4 Luke Carr (260) Time: 2.33.22 J2 Wheelrace 1 Carrie Price (140) 2 Samantha Hellyer (140) 3 Sarah Eaves (190) 4 Chris Cunningham (160) Time: 2.41.56 J3 Wheelrace 1 Jack Stokes (95) 2 Peter Loft (65) 3 Jake Laskey (80) 4 Jason Bounday (70) Time: 1.26.45 J1 Lightning Handicap 1 Josh Myers (5) 2 Carolyn Cunningham (110) 3 Ebony Manion (110) 4 Natasha Mapley (90) Time: 1.09.75 J2 Lightning Handicap 1 Ben Grenda (95) 2 Sarah Eaves (95) 3 Samantha Hellyer (70) 4 Kailee Goodwin (95) Time: 1.17.93 J3 Lightning Handicap 1 Jake Laskey (80) 2 Jack Stokes (95) 3 Jason Bounday (70) 4 Peter Loft (65) Time: 1.25.29 J1 Scratch 1 Will Robinson 2 Matthew Bonham 3 Josh Myers 4 Jarrod Harman Time: 5.37.50 J2 Scratch 1 Alex Holden 2 Clay Murfett 3 Tom Robinson 4 Samantha Hellyer Time: 4.09.69 J3 Scratch 1 Ed Robinson 2 David Lyons 3 Jason Bounday 4 Matt Laskey Time: 2.58.44