104th Austral Wheelrace - IM

Melbourne, Australia, February 23, 2002

2001 Results    Results    Photography    History    Past winners

Austral goes to Tasmanian Young-gun

By Karen Forman In Melbourne

Tasmanian Darren Young rode from scratch to wrench the 2002 Bicycle Superstore Austral Wheelrace out of the strong hands of some very esteemed rivals in the fastest 2000m handicap time yet recorded on the boards of Melbourne's Vodafone Arena, tonight.

The 26-year-old from Davenport, who has recently moved to Melbourne to concentrate his training on point scores and madisons, beat fellow Tasmanian Andrew Loft (140m), two times Olympic gold medallist Shane Kelly from South Australia (scratch) and Kial Stewart (30) of the ACT to win Australia's oldest and most distinguished wheel race in front of a near capacity, wildly cheering crowd.

It was something of a disappointing result for Kelly, however, who had been given 5/2 odds by bookmakers and was ready for a win after consistent seconds in the recent Forges Stores and Leongatha wheel races.

An elated and obviously surprised Young said on the podium he had found the race an especially tough one.

"This was my first Austral and I came out and won it," he said. "And to come out and win it with people like Shane Kelly there ... that was even better. I never expected this. Not tonight, anyway."

Young, no stranger to decent wheel race results in Tasmania (he has won all but one of the big name events) had slipped into the final with a third place in the seventh of the eight Austral heats, behind Footscray rider Joel Leonard (30m) and Stewart.

The quickest yet of the heats - it was run in 2.09.716 - it had represented something of an elite gathering, pitting world keirin champion Ryan Bayley against visiting USA rider Mike Tillman and Skilled Geelong Bay Classic B grade stage winner Sean Finning, just 16 years of age.

"I have never seen upmarkers so organized," announcer Stewart Doyle told the increasingly excited crowd.

Had the heat been a little longer, it might have gone to World keirin champion Ryan Bayley from Western Australia, who performed a colossal turn of pace, showing incredible form as he pulled the backmarkers forward with his distinctive, slow to wind-up but fast pedaling, style.

It was Bayley who led the back bunch through the leaders once the group became one, only to be pipped close to the post by Young, who flew around the outside with Kial Stewart and Leonard.

Having had such a close run in his heat, Young hadn't rated himself a chance in the final.

"Two years ago I would have said, yes, that maybe I was a chance," he said, on the podium. "But now I am in training for the madison and pointscore and am looking at different things."

He conceded that maybe he had been a little more confident at the start, "but not with 20 metres to go".

"I knew Shane (Kelly) was there all the time, then with 100 to go I saw him creeping up. After that I gave myself no chance at all. It was very hard to get onto his wheel."

Riders were spread from scratch, shared by Young and Kelly, out to the 220 metre mark occupied by Shepparton rider, Glen Bush, but within seconds of the gun, they had organized themselves into three hard-working groups.

With four laps to go they were two groups; then came the smooth-as-silk team time trial of Leonard, last year's winner Mark French, Stewart, Young and Kelly.

Chelsea and Peninsula Cycling Club rider David Coultas, riding off 100 metres, flew around the outside with two laps to go, gaining two lengths on Loft, who had been leading.

Then, in a flash of the eyes as the field passed the post, Young emerged the winner.

"To have won the Austral - wow!" he said. "Obviously it is the biggest race. I have joined all the greats - like Stephen Pate."

Maybe it was just the next obvious step. As he said, he has won every other major wheel race in Tasmania, apart from Latrobe. And there were his World Cup and Goodwill Games appearances to add credit.

He will follow his Austral success with a bid for the upcoming madisons - with American partner Jamie Kearns at Bendigo and newly crowned Victorian madison champ Brett Aitken at the Australian championships at Vodafone in a fortnight.

Action and atmosphere

The Austral final was the highlight, but the event was still just one part of an action-packed night that kept its all-important crowd entertained with Australian record attempts, trick BMX riding displays and the presentation of life membership by Cyclesport Victoria to Ian "Dusty" Hay.

It was made all the more atmospheric with the addition of a European style in-field dining facility on a raised stage inside the track and a much appreciated bar.

The action was on from the start of the night. In the first event, the Australian Abalone Exports Victorian M 19 scratch race (60 laps), this meant a crash involving four riders - Andrew Rix of Bendigo, Ron Crawford of Tasmania, Dylan Newell of Brunswick and Brad O'Nial of Echuca-Moama.

Nobody was seriously hurt and Sean Finning of Castlemaine was the winner.

The Mavic Olympic Sprint was fast and furious between eventual winners Ryan Bayley, Darren Young and Jobie Dajka and their opponents Shane Kelly, Shaun Collins and Kial Stewart.

With both teams relatively evenly matched, the team led by World Keirin Champion Bayley gathered momentum on the last lap, with Bayley's famous long wind up in a small gear gelling in time for the line.

The first heat of the Austral was very fast. It was won by Richard England of St Kilda Cycling Club off 120m after he set the pace most of the way, with Peter Trigar of Brunswick off 150 second and Jerard Glennon of Warnambool getting up from 155 to win his way into the final in third place.

The second heat was even quicker - 2.12.185. Here the backmarkers got up quickly - David Coultas off 100m, Brad O'Nial off 180 and Ian Smith off 210.

It was, however, an unfortunate finish for Carnegie rider Andrew Shannon, who hit the boards after crossing the line, losing some skin and injuring his shoulder and requiring some treatment from ambulance officers.

He was wheeled off on a trolley with painkillers and a sling on his left arm.

The third heat happened in 2.12.743 and was a case of the backmarkers getting up early. Hamish Taylor of Northcote made a break with two to go but was swallowed up by the three placegetters who finished ahead of the bunch, together.

A commendable ride by Queensland visitor James Schneider, who pushed hard but couldn't quite get into the top three as he had hoped.

The fourth heat was the fastest so far, raced in 2.10.591.

Here, three groups became two then finally one with Damien Kierl breaking away with two to go and holding a good lead to win his way to the final ahead of Brett Richardson off 205 and Glen Bush of Shepparton off 220.

In the fifth heat, Colin Morris (off 210) took the lead of the race, with three groups jostling for supremacy behind him.

Decker did a good turn of pace, after getting up from 60 metres and forcing the pace.

With two to go, Adrian Morrisby (170) attacked and tried to keep the back markers away, with Decker trying hard to close the gap. The race was won by Morrisby in 2.12.478.

Cameron Wise off 190 was second and Decker off 60, third.

The sixth heat had last year's winner Mark French of Carnegie off 30 metres - the furthest out.

Backmarkers worked strongly together, well organized and appearing threatening. A touch of four wheels almost had the bunch down in the frontmarkers, but Laurie Noonan had other ideas. French was the only backmarker to get through.

In a tight finish, the winner was Tasmanian Brendon Geale in 2.13.090, ahead of Daniel Cutting of Tasmania off 50, with French slipping into third place.

Heat eight saw four-times world champion Shane Kelly pitted against rising young speedster sprint champ Jobie Dajka and twice Junior world champion Jason Niblett, who was looking strong.

With four laps to go, Tasmanian Nathan Hodskiss led the field, inspiring memories of an Austral win by his brother won the race a few years ago.

The question of most watcher's minds at this stage was, will Kelly be handicapped out of it?

He was starting to go with two to go, but 17 year old Sanderson also looked strong. He flew around the outside, with Kelly on his tail, racing to the line.

It was a dynamic race, won by Kelly in 2.09.780 ahead of Nicholas Sanderson and Andrew Loft.

Cyclists International's Austral night attracted a very strong women's field.

Appearing for the first time in months in the Malvern Star Womens scratch race of 15 laps was Olympic medallist Michelle Ferris, along with Narelle Peterson, the first Australian woman to clinch a world junior championship, who is making a comeback this season, and the sister of keirin champion Ryan Bayley, Kristine, who has been showing that whatever big brother can do, so can she, around the tracks of late.

Ferris led the pack out from the bell with a strong Bayley on her wheel, but was too strong, winning in 5.09.41 - the fastest scratch race seen here for women for some time.

Equally exciting was the Giant Bicycles Aces Sprint Derby, finalized in an incredible time of 10.968.

Ryan Bayley held first position throughout the event and managed to hold off attacks from Kelly and Dajka - who came through to fight wheel for wheel in the final lap - to win by half a wheel.

The Aces Keirin Final produced a long awaited win for Kelly, ahead of Dajka and Gavin White, pushing out Bayley, who had been in great form throughout the night.


By Karen Forman.

Former Olympic road race champion, Kathy Watt, was also in the thick of the action and captured some great photos inside the Vodafone Arena during the Austral.


1 Australian Abalone Exports Victorian M19 Scratch Race (60 laps)
1 Sean Finning (Castlemaine Cycling Club) 19.16.590
2 Nicholas Sanderson (Ararat) 
3 Brad Norton (Shepparton)
4 Dwayne Smith (Tasmania)
2 Cinelli Points - elimination race (20 laps)
1 Brett Richardson 
2 Neil Peart (Carnegie)
3 Ian Smith (Carnegie)
4 Justin Leske (Port Fairy)
3 Carnac Shoes Points - Elimination race (20 laps)
1 Adrian Morrisby                         6.22.394
2 Graeme O'Neill
3 Colin Morris (Footscray)
4 Graeme O'Neill ( Ararat)
4 Mavic Olympic Sprint (3 laps)
1 Ryan Bayley, Darren Young, Jobie Dajka
2 Shane Kelly, Shaun Collins, Kial Stewart
5 Alchemy Bikes Aces Elimination
1 Todd Wilksch (Bendigo)
2 Tim Decker (Bendigo)
3 Robert Wilson (Footscray)
4 Mike Tillman (USA)
6 Malvern Star Women's Scratch Race (15 laps)
1 Michelle Ferris (Warnambool)             5.09.41
2 Kristine Bayley (WA) 
3 Catherine Allen (Blackburn) 
7 Diamond Back Bikes Invitational M17 elimination
1 Shane Perkins (Carnegie)                3.16.020
2 Patrick Shaw (Ballarat/Sebastopol)
8 Giant Bicycles Aces Sprint Derby (4 laps)
1 Ryan Bayley (WA)                          10.968
2 Jobie Dajka
3 Shane Kelly
3 Shaun Collins
9 Bicycle Superstore Austral Wheelrace
Heat One (eight laps)
1 Richard England (St Kilda) 120m         2.13.642
2 Peter Trigar (Brunswick) 150m
3 Jerard Glennon (Warnambool) 155m
Heat Two
1 David Coultas (Chelsea) 100m             2.12.185 
2 Brad O'Nial (Echuca-Moama) 180m
3 Ian Smith (Carnegie) 210m
Heat Three
1 Cameron Lester (St Kilda) 110m           2.12.743
2 Graeme O'Neill (Ararat) 170
3 Mark Bourjau (St Kilda) 210
Heat Four 
1 Damien Kierl (Ballarat) 205m             2.10.591
2 Brett Richardson 205
3 Glen Bush (Shepparton) 220
Heat Five
1 Adrian Morrisby (Tas) 170                2.12.473
2, Cameron Wise Wise (Carnegie) 190
3 Tim Decker (Bendigo) 60
Heat Six
1 Brendon Geale (Tas) 105                  2.13.090
2 Daniel Cutting (Tas) 50
3 Mark French (Carnegie) 30
Heat Seven
1 Joel Leonard (Footscray) 40              2.09.716
2 Kial Stewart (ACT) 30
3 Darren Young (Tas) scr
Heat Eight
1 Shane Kelly (Stawell-Great Western) scr  2.09.780
2 Nicholas Sanderson (Ararat) 55
3 Andrew Loft (Tas) 140
10 Norco Australian Record Attempt (3 laps for Flying 200m)
Shane Perkins 11.730 - new Australian record
11 Bicycling Superstore Austral Wheelrace Final
1 Darren Young (Tas)               2.06.556
2 Andrew Loft 
3 Shane Kelly
4 Kial Stewart
12 Berns Beak Bike Racks Invitational M17 Scratch Race (10 laps) 
1 Shaun Morris (Sheparton)         3.24.167
2 Patrick Shaw (Ballarat)
3 Ashley Braszell (Ballarat) 
13 Victorian State Home Loans Aces Keirin 
Heat One
1 Jobie Dajka (SA) 11.6.41
2 Jason Biblett (Horsham)
3 John Kennedy (Carnegie)
Heat two
1 Ryan Bayley (WA)                   11.192
2 Gavin White (Brentwood Cobram)
3 Joel Leonard (Footscray)
Heat three
1 Shane Kelly (SGW)                  11.446
2 Kial Stewart (ACT)
3 Shaun Collins (Carnegie)
14 Michelin Tyres Points - elimination race (25 laps)
1 Paul Atkinson (Tas)               7.41.221
2 Glen Hutchinson (Footscray)
3 Andrew Swatton (Bendigo)
4 James Atkinson (Tas)
15 Victorian State Home Loans Aces Keirin Final (six laps)
1 Shane Kelly                         11.086
2 Jobie Dajka
3 Gavin White
4 Ryan Bayley
16 Netti Women/W19 handicap (6 laps)
1 Kristine Bayley (WA) scr           1.50.543
2 Tiffany Godnrey (GLW) scr
3 Jessica Berry (Bendigo) 150
17 Vittoria Tyres Aces Scratch Race (25 laps)
1 Todd Wilksch (Bendigo) 20          7.37.346
2 Darren Young (Tas) 
3 Mike Tillman (USA)


The first Austral Wheel Race was organised in 1887 by the Melbourne Bicycle Club. The race was run over a distance of 3 miles (4800 metres) and was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It had a first prize of a grand piano valued at 200 pounds (Sterling). Today it is Australia's oldest and most distinguished wheel race.

Other Melbourne venues to host the "Austral" have been the Exhibition Track, the North Essendon Board Track, the Olympic Park Velodrome and the Brunswick, Coburg and Northcote velodromes.

The 1901 event gained notoriety when the American, "Plugger" Bill Martin won from scratch, amid cries from the Press of alleged race fixing involving the infamous Melbourne identity, John Wren.

The massive amount of 1050 Sovereigns was the allocated prize money for the 1902 event. However, the Austral wasn't always a great success story. One of its lowest points came in the late 1970's, when just $1500 was on offer.

There was a resurgence in 1982 when the prize money was lifted to $5000 plus sponsors products.

The present level of prize money has now exceeded $18,000 at recent stagings of this prestigious wheelrace.

Past winners

Many famous names appear on the "Austral" honour roll. World Champions, Gordon Johnson (1973) and Steele Bishop (1982) ,both had the distinction of winning from scratch. Jack Fitzgerald won from scratch in 1922. Tassie Johnson (1944) won from 30 yards. The great Sid Patterson (1962 and1964) and Laurie Venn (1979 and 1981) have both won the event twice from scratch.

Tasmanian, Danny Clark, has had three wins off the scratch mark, in 1977, 1986 and 1990 However, the record now belongs to the consistent Victorian all rounder, Stephen Pate with four victories, in 1988 from scratch, in 1991 from -10 metres, in 1993 from -20 metres and his most recent 1999 win, from scratch.

In 2000, Gary Neiwand one of Australia's greatest sprinters, was liberally handicapped on 70 metres for the millennium edition of the event, and won comfortably.

1887 H. Lambton           210 (Yards)
1888 Dick Davis	    	 Scr
1889 J. Mullins	    		140.
1890 Tom Busst			Scr.
1891 Arthur Turner		240
1892 H. Lambton 		200
1893 Gordon Woodward		270
1894 Alf Middleton 		180
1895 A. Crisp			250
1896 Charles Kellow		15
1897 Jim Carpenter		85
1898 Tom Finnigan		220
1899 Frank Beauchamp		150
1900 Charles Forbes		30
1901 Bill Martin		Scr
1902 Murray Auger		240
1903 Fred Scheps		160
1904 Jack Clarke		150
1905 J. Sandberg		170
1906 Harry Thomas		20
1907 A.C. Colvin		60
1908 M. McPherson		150
1909 A. H. Piano		40
1910 Frank Corry		140
1912 W. Priestly		60
1913 P.B. Henry			60
1920 Ern. Tamme			50
1921 Lou Clifford		120
1922 Jack Fitzgerald	 	Scr
1923 Dick Ford			120
1923 Pidge Davis		200
1925 Frank Corry		140
1925 Eric Giboud		60
1927 Bowie Stevens		70
1927 Cecil Hannerman	        160
1927 Cecil Manners		245
1929 H. "Fatty" Lamb		30
1936 Keith Thurgood		100
1936 Harry Webb			70
1937 Jack Gardiner	  	205
1938 Jack Middleton		120
1939 Clinton Beasley	 	90
1940 Norm Stevens	 	20
1941 Ken Stewart		60
1942 Mick Bradley		160
1944 Norm Munro			90
1944 Tas. Johnson	 	30
1945 Tom Shillito		160
1946 Pat Devine  		120
1947 George Bull		130
1948 Bill Kirkham		120
1950 Byron Bonney	  	120
1951 Kevin Marion		105
1952 Doug Jennings	  	120
1953 Tom Fitzgerald	  	140
1954 Alan Geddes		130
1955 Ron Murray			100
1956 Don Meharg	 		130
1957 John Robertson	  	100
1958 Neil Geraghty		100
1959 Vin Beasley		100
1960 David Good			100
1961 Fred Roche	 		40
1962 Sid Patterson		Scr.
1963 Fred Hellyer		110
1964 Sid Patterson 		Scr.
1965 Kenton Smith		135
1966 Bill Dove			150
1967 Vic Browne	 		65
1968 Merv. Andrea	        230 
1969 Charlie Walsh	 	50
1970 Bill Stevens		35
1971 Frank Daly			135
1972 Geoff Edmonds	 	20
1973 Gordon Johnson	 	Scr.
1974 Ivan Collings		90
1975 Craig Price		130
1976 David Allan		70
1977 Danny Clark		Scr.
1978 David Sanders		50  (Metres)
1979 Laurie Venn		Scr.
1980 Daryl Benson	  	90
1981 Laurie Venn		Scr.
1982 Steele Bishop	  	Scr.
1983 Phil. Sawyer		Scr.
1984 Terry Schintler		80
1985 Allan Rackstraw		80
1986 Danny Clark		Scr.
1987 Simon King			110
1988 Stephen Pate	   	Scr.
1989 Grant Reynolds	 	150
1990 Danny Clark		Scr.
1991 Stephen Pate	        Minus 10
1992 Bert Glennon		120
1993 Stephen Pate	        Minus 20
1994 Ashley Harding		140
1995 Tony Hughes		80
1996 Troy Clarke		45
1997 Matthew Atkins		100
1998 Shane Hodskiss	 	75
1999 Stephen Pate		Scr.
2000 Gary Neiwand		70
2001 Mark French      80