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Australian/Oceania Track Titles - CN

Sydney, Australia, April 30 - May 4, 2003

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Australian/ Oceania Track Cycling Championships

Click for larger image
Young attacks
Photo: © Tom Balks

The Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney hosts the five-day Australian/ Oceania Track Cycling Championship from Wednesday April 30 until Sunday May 4.

The cream of Australian track cyclists will battle it out against competitors from countries such as New Zealand, Greece, Italy and Canada to see just who the best is. With both Australian and Oceania titles up for grabs, as well as selection for the World Championships, the racing will be the hottest that the country has seen.

NSW in formation
Photo: © Phil McKnight
Click for larger image

Australian riders competing include Junior World Champion Mark French, World junior individual pursuit champion and silver medallist in the world junior road time trial, Mark Jamieson, 2001 Australian Road Champion, Katie Mactier and Rochelle Gilmore, as well as NSW BMX champion, Sean Dwight and World BMX Champion Wade Bootes,

Tickets start at just $3.00 for children, with children under 8 admitted free. Tickets are available via Phill Bates Sports Promotions on 02 9570 5556, and racing commences at 1:00 on Wednesday April 30.

Last chance for World Championship selection

And a bit of Trans-Tasman rivalry thrown in for good measure

By Gennie Sheer, Cycling Australia

The five day Australian Track Cycling Championships get underway next Wednesday at the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney and this year will also incorporate the Oceania Continental Championships.

Competition will be tough between the states but also between Australia and New Zealand because of the selection for the World Championships. (Note the World Titles are currently still scheduled to take place in China in late July but the UCI is looking into the implications of the SARS virus.

"Riders who win an Oceania Title in individual events, are eligible to race that event at the World Championships," explained Cycling Australia High Performance Manager, Michael Flynn. "However Australian riders are still required to meet our selection criteria set down for the World Championships."

French ready to fry opposition in Sprint

One rider with his sights set on an Oceania crown is Victorian Mark French, 18, who will be vying for his first senior national title after a junior career that saw him claim four world titles. The teenager has already excelled in his first year of senior competition claiming victory in the sprint in the World Cup round in Mexico but he is keen to guarantee his place with a good time in the sprint qualifying over 200 metres.

"I posted 10.50 seconds to get in the worlds squad but a 10.40 would make sure I can be in the team," said French. "The main priority though is for either Ryan (Bayley - WA) or myself to win the sprint and the keirin so we can get an extra place."

The reason the pressure is on Bayley and French is because they are the pair who have amassed the qualifying points through World Cup competition for Australia to have two competitors on the line in the sprint. If either of them takes the Oceania crown another rider can move in to the team.

"I'm in good form and this week we've been doing speed work to make sure we're ready for nationals," said French. "I expect Ryan to be my main rival but there's always others at nationals who can be threats."

French will contest the sprint, keirin, team sprint and the newly introduced 250 metre standing lap for the Victorian team which also includes veteran Shane Kelly, 31.

Kilo Kelly back

The three time world kilometre champion claimed silver in the event at last year's nationals and went on to claim bronze in a personal best time at sea level when he raced the World Titles in Denmark. The bronze medal ride came despite an enforced break from training mid year after he dislocated his right shoulder in a crash during the sprint at the Australian Titles. Kelly was up against New Zealand's Justin Grace in the quarter finals when Grace came down in front of him leaving Kelly with no where to go. Ironically Grace has withdrawn from this year's event because of his own injury problems.

Mactier in pursuit of gold, but needs to crack the Safe

Also lining up for Victoria will be 2001 Australian Road Champion, Katie Mactier, 28, who will tackle the 3km individual pursuit. Mactier narrowly missed out on victory in last month's Geelong Women's Road World Cup round. She threw her arms up prematurely and was pipped on the line by Queenslander Sara Carrigan.

"There's no way she can do that in the pursuit," laughed Victorian coach John Beasley. "Basically Katie had some visa problems which have prevented her joining her Saturn team in the US so in the meantime we set a short term goal for her to have a crack at the pursuit at nationals.

"She's doing pretty well and I'm confident she can post a podium finish."

But South Australian former rower, Amy Safe, 27, will be keen to defend the title she claimed last year. Safe is also hoping to post a World Championship team qualifying time of 3min38sec.

Dwight could delight on the track

The New South Wales team will include Rochelle Gilmore, who is flying back from her road commitments in Europe to contest the Championships. Also starting for the home team is NSW BMX champion, Sean Dwight, 29, who decided to give the track a try after his friend and BMX rival Jamie Staff made the transition last year and claimed a World title in the process. Dwight was on track for the national crown at the recent BMX Titles but crashed in the final.

"He is very, very quick and we wanted to give him a hit out this year at National level to see if he can produce the goods when it counts," said NSW Coach, Gary Sutton who admits Victoria will be hard to beat for overall state honours.

State secrets

"We're aiming for our best ever nationals," said Beasley who will start a junior and senior team in the combined Australian teams pursuit title. "We could if we wanted to mix juniors and seniors in the teams but I reckon the two teams as they stand have a good chance of riding against each other in the final which would be great."

Victoria will also bring in a new face in the form of Damien Keirl from Ballarat.

"His father used to race the track and Damien raced as a juvenile then gave it up to compete in power lifting but he's back in cycling now," said Beasley. "If anyone takes him lightly in the sprint they'll be in trouble."

In the women's sprint Queensland boasts the pre-race favourite in Commonwealth Games champion, Kerrie Meares. Also in the Queensland line up is first year senior Wade Cosgrove, from Rockhampton who last year claimed gold at the junior world championships in the one kilometre time trial.

In the Tasmanian team another junior world champion will make his senior national titles debut. World junior individual pursuit champion and silver medallist in the world junior road time trial, Mark Jamieson, will go into the event in the wake of a good performance earlier this month with the Australian teams pursuit that claimed bronze in the Capetown World Cup round.

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