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Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals
Tasmania, December 26, 2005 - January 1, 2006
Burnie Carnival - January 1, 2006
A fish named Burnie
By Anthony Tan in Burnie
It must have been a welcome sight for organisers, riders, families and fans to see the sun rise over Burnie Athletic club Monday morning. Given less than ten percent of the riders down to ride yesterday's washed-out Burnie Carnival went back home, the effect on the standard of racing was negligible, if any.
In fact, a near-record number of seven scratch markers in the Burnie Wheel - the richest event of the entire Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals - said it all; a small pity more spectators weren't on hand earlier on to watch such brave racing in extremely challenging conditions.
2006 Burnie Wheel, 2000m
The seven grand, cash-rich Burnie Wheel saw five hotly-contested heats, and when nine out of the final 20 riders qualified from the three best-represented institutes - T.I.S./Cyclingnews, V.I.S. and the W.A.I.S. - the knowledgeable crowd began licking their laps. Either that or their lips were chapped from the frosty wind that gathered intensity as the day wore on.
Seven scratch markers - Ben Kersten (NSW), Matt Goss, Mark Jamieson, Nathan Clarke (all T.I.S.), Todd Wilksch, Darren Young (both Vic) and Jame Carney (USA) - in the final was close to a record (although one year there was 10!). And the other 13 - Joel Leonard, Simon Clarke, Gareth Atkins, Bobby Lea, Leigh Howard, Travis and Cameron Meyer, Duane Johansen, Dave Oliver, John Raynor, Aaron Jones, Alex Holden and Kaiden Homan - were no slouches, either, ensuring a true battle royale between track cycling's top guns.
"I've had a good series," said Kersten, "but everyone comes to watch the handicaps on the days [of the carnivals]. And I've been in crashes, missing out on finals not through my own fault - so it's been pretty disappointing in that respect, because all the emphasis is on the handicap.
"So the pressure is on tonight - my last race. This is my last opportunity in Tassie to pick up a handicap."
Temperatures were truly freezing come final time just before 8:30pm. But with so much expectation, there was an added chill in the air, as the chosen 20 were held in place by the officials, waiting for the start gun to be fired.
As the shot rang loud through the air, the seven scratchies bolted out of the blocks, quickly catching the back-markers just ahead of them, a stunning image of grace and power not dissimilar to that seen in the team time trial at the Tour de France. Realistically, the front markers had not a hope in hell of staying clear, and with four laps remaining, it was four in front, three in the middle and eleven at the rear.
At three to go, the middle trio was eaten for dinner by the back-markers; a lap later, the front four became a late-night snack and the groups were one. Around that infamous turn two on the bell lap, just five were left, and although Nathan Clarke lead the group home with some serious speed, Oh Benny Boy never looked like losing as he sailed past Tasmanians Clarke and Darren Young at the line, fist pumped, job done, well done.
"We had the some of best riders in the world off that [scratch] line, so if we didn't get up, there's a problem with Australian cycling... thankfully there's not, and that is fantastic," gasped Kersten, exhausted though elated, the latter no doubt fuelled by the fact he was now three and a half grand richer.
"I really wanted to honour what the scratch markers did - they deserved to get the minor places. So I was really going to just leave it to the last minute and not bring anyone else around the outside with me, because they did such a great job. Everyone was a winner, I think."
(Note: Although the Burnie Carnival was postponed to January 2, 2006, due to rain, the weather did hold out long enough for a series of street criteriums to be held on New Year's Eve - see full results, report & photos.)
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
Event 66: 2006 Burnie Wheel - Heat 1 1 Travis Meyer 2 Cameron Meyer 3 Gareth Atkins 4 Kaiden Homan Event 67: 2006 Burnie Wheel - Heat 2 1 Duane Johansen 2 David Oliver 3 John Raynor 4 Aaron Jones Event 68: 2006 Burnie Wheel - Heat 3 1 Matthew Goss 2 Nathan Clarke 3 Mark Jamieson 4 Jame Carney Event 69: 2006 Burnie Wheel - Heat 4 1 Todd Wilksch 2 Simon Clarke 3 Joel Leonard 4 Bobby Lea Event 70: 2006 Burnie Wheel - Heat 5 1 Darren Young 2 Ben Kersten 3 Leigh Howard 4 Alex Holden Event 114: McGrath & Co. Consolation Wheel Race, 2000m - Final 1 John Forrest 2.21.08 2 Ryan Innes 3 Dean Stewart Event 119 - 2006 Burnie Wheel 1 Ben Kersten 3.29.52 2 Nathan Clarke 3 Darren Young Complete results