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Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals
Tasmania, December 22, 2007 - January 19, 2008
By Paul Verkuylen in Latrobe
Men's UCI sprint series
The final of the first ever UCI sprint race to be held in conjunction with the Tasmanian Christmas carnivals was a truly international affair. Riders from 12 nations turned up to compete for the UCI points that were available - important for those countries looking to qualify for the Olympics being held in a little over nine months.
After outclassing the strong Australian team who had assembled in Tasmania, Japan had two riders in the final, Watanabe Kazunai and Kitasuru Tsubaba. Azizul Hasni, under the watchful eye of Australian track sprinting legend Gary Niewand, and Jason Niblett the only Australian in the final, were both hoping to upset the Japanese riders who wanted to take all the available points.
Niblett took the lead from the start followed by the Malaysian and the two Japanese, but with just one lap to go Watanabe made an unexpected move around the outside to take a lead of three bike lengths, which only his team-mate was able to close down in the final 150 metres. Watanabe was never in trouble, however, easily surging again to take the win when he noticed his team-mate gaining on him. Hasni took third ahead of a disappointed Niblett.
Watanabe was happy to have won the first of three sprint events in Tasmania against such as class field. "Australia has a strong team here, so I am happy to win here," he told Cyclingnews while warming down on the rollers after the final. "The conditions are tough, I really felt the wind with my disc on the back, it was blowing me around a little," he said of the cold wind blowing through the track.
Women's 1000m handicap
Western Australia's Holly Williams took out the first final of the Boxing Day Latrobe track carnival. Starting off a mark of 100 metres she took line honours after holding off the fast finishing back markers in the final straight.
The windy conditions seemed to play havoc with the women's field from the very start of the race, with the back markers struggling to reel in those who started off more generous handicaps in the two laps of the giant 400m plus outdoor track. Seemingly just to get the crowd worked up and on their feet, the 'scratchies' seemed to pull something from nowhere as they pulled the entire field together in the dying metres of the race. This time however it just wasn't enough.
Just as they latched onto the tail end of the main group with some 300 metres remaining, Williams, who had been working hard all race, started her sprint for the line, with Emma Smith doing her best to come around her in the final 10 metres, but to no avail.
A protest by Smith resulted in little more than a warning for Williams, who had drifted a little from the sprinting line at the finish as she did all she could to hold off her more experienced competitors. Ryla Jakelski took the final place on the podium, closely followed by Esther Pugh U'ren.
A.J. Clarke & Sons 2000m wheelrace
The first final for the men was taken by the relatively unknown but definitely talented Steven Hall of Western Australia, who took the event riding off the 130 metre mark.
The youngster, who is just starting his second year in the under 19s, displayed the tactical nous of a much older rider as he waited until the last possible moment to come around Eddy Wilson to take the event by no more than a tyre width.
In what was fast becoming the standard, the scratch markers were once again kept out of the competition by riders further up on the start, possibly due to the windy conditions, but more likely due to the high standard and quality of the assembled field.
Hall, who has only been riding for three years, explained later that he "had no plan for the race, just see what I can do and stay with the big boys," referring to his more experienced and possible idols who started behind him. "I am only going into my second year as a junior next year. I am hoping that I can do enough to get to the worlds."
Peter Loft came across the line to take third ahead of James Schneider from NSW, another name to watch in the future.
B&E Personal Banking keirin
After a disappointing sprint qualifying in the morning, the Australian team came out amped and ready to take on the strong field assembled for the keirin. Two heats needed to be scratched from the program due to the absence of New Zealand's sprint team, who had been withdrawn at the last minute after the team was disbanded due to a lack of results after the Beijing round of the World Cup, just weeks ago.
After the tough qualifying rounds, Australia filled all bar one of the places available for the final, with only Nagai Kiyofumi of Japan able to make his way to the final by beating Ben Kersten in his heat. But with the first two from each heating qualifying for the final, Kiofumi was far from rid of Kersten who was chasing a good result after missing the sprint racing that morning.
Shane Perkins was the fastest off the mark as the gun fired and the motor came by, slotting in behind to take the favoured position. This was how things stayed until, with three laps remaining, riders started to jostle for positions. Kersten was the biggest winner, as he moved from last to third spot, while Kiofumi was relegated to last wheel.
As the bell sounded, Kelly showed the huge crowd his enormous strength by blasting off the front and using the strength built up by riding the kilo at no less than four Olympic Games to hold off the fast finishing Mark French in the final 400-metre lap.
Kersten rounded out the top three to make the podium an all Australian affair, making up for the morning's disappointment of not having anyone on the podium for the sprint, an event that Australia usually excels in.
Women's 2000m wheelrace
Australia's newest women's cycling sensation, Kirsty Broun, took out the prized wheelrace in thrilling style. Broun had her work cut out for her: starting off a mark of just 40 metres, she had to catch the entire field if she wished to take out the most prized wheelrace in Australia. Showing her class right from the gun, she quickly made up the ground needed to put her in contention for the win, and brought the entire field together while she was at it.
Coming into the final lap, it was still anyone's race. Sensing an opportunity to take the rest by surprise, Julia Bradley of Canada attacked with just over half a lap remaining. Broun had other ideas however, quickly reacting to the move by moving up the outside to position herself within striking distance.
As they came to the line, Broun was too good for the rest as she took a fine win, just a month after winning the national criterium championship in her adopted home state of Queensland.
"I am proud to have won here at home in Tasmania," the Tasmanian born Broun said after the event. "I stopped riding for eight years while I was at uni, I only just got back into it, but I honestly thought that I would only ever do it socially."
Her results the past few months have told a different story however, and it seems that there is still much more to come from this talented lawyer. "I will do the Bay Series crits and then the nationals, so we will see," she said.
Amy Cure crossed for second in the hard fought race with Melissa Hoskins filling out the podium.
Searoad Latrobe 3000m men's wheelrace
Australia's richest wheelrace has always attracted the best up-and-coming talent in Australia, with youngsters upsetting more likely winners before going on to make a name for themselves on more than one occasion. Today's race saw yet another future talent take the stop step on the podium as 16 year-old Scott Law took home the $7500 first prize cheque ahead of Leigh Howard and Edward Wilson.
Only three scratch markers made the final of the event, setting up what was going to be a thrilling climax to the day's racing. Shane Kelly took off so quickly from the gun that the two other scratch markers, Leigh Howard and Mark Jamieson were unable to hold his wheel. Howard was able to recover and gradually made up the ground to regain his wheel. Jamieson however looked to be in difficulty from the word go and would never regain the wheel of Kelly or Howard, his race over before it started.
After Kelly's giant effort to gain contact with the larger group in front of him, the entire field was all together with three laps to go, with Howard looking the most likely to take the win.
With just two laps remaining the winner of the earlier wheelrace, Steven Hall, was sitting in third place with Howard a few riders back. With half a lap to go the sprint was opened, Law made his move around the outside, and with an amazing turn of speed beat the rest of the field to the line to take what is undoubtedly the biggest win of his career.
"I wasn't actually expecting to win. I was told that in the paper I had been earmarked as the winner of the race, so I thought that that may jinx me," he said afterwards. "I didn't think I could get around Leigh Howard but eventually I did, so I just kept going and I thought this could be it so I just kept going and hoped for the best."
"I am only a first year under 19, so to win a major wheelrace is really great."
Devon Industries men's elimination
Leigh Howard returned from the disappointment of missing out on the win in the prized wheelrace to come up trumps in the men's elimination race. This event, which sees one rider eliminated each time they pass the finish line before the final three riders sprint it out for the win, was hotly contested with big names like Jamieson missing out early in the race.
Howard and Victorian Institute of Sport team-mate Glenn O'Shea blasted away from Todd Wilsch on the final lap as the bell rang to take the top two places.
B&E Personal Banking UCI women's points race
With a lack of any big name riders taking part in the women's points race it was always going to be a very open affair. The first sprint of the race was after just one lap, leaving very little time to ride into the event.
After the second sprint a large group rode away from the remnants of the main bunch after an attack was brought back. This is how the race stayed right up until the dying moments, when the dogged determination of some of the riders in the second group saw them regain contact with the front runners, and once again have a chance at the win.
Kristy Broun rounded out a successful race by winning the first and last sprints, however it would not be enough for the win as Laura McCaughey had done enough during the race to secure the win from Broun with Jessica Berry placing third.
B&E Personal Banking UCI team sprint
Japan kept the rivalry between themselves and the Australians alive by trading wins all day in the men's sprint events. This time it would be the Japanese squad that would come out on top as they easily beat the Victorian Institute of Sport squad in the final after placing second to them by just 100th of a second in the qualifying.
Watanabe Kazunari, Nagai Kiyofumi and Kitasuru Tsubaba outclassed the VIS team of Shane Kelly, Mark French and Shane Perkins in the one-and-a-half lap event. Due to the length of the track, riders were required to complete just half a lap of the oval before swinging off and letting the next in line take over the reigns.
The race came down to the wire, as the final two riders charged towards the line. Kelly was faced with a headwind while Watanabe had the tailwind, which may have been the only difference as both riders hit the line within a second of one another.
Malaysia showed yet again that they are slowly becoming a force on the track as they posted the third best time of the meet to secure the final place on the podium.
Men's A grade scratch race
Glen O'Shea took out the men's scratch race is fine style when he beat Tod Wilksch and Ben Kersten in the final surge to the line at the end of the 17 lap event, which featured three sprint 'premes'. Just as the gun sounded to signal the start of the race, Leigh Howard and Daniel Cutting took off on an attack that would see them remain out front until nine laps to go. Cutting took the first preme from Howard, with 12 laps remaining, but they never built more than a 120-metres gap, and were caught by the group shortly before the second preme.
With seven laps remaining, the group seemed to settle down after two laps of constant attacking and began thinking of the final sprint. Kersten was seen moving towards the front in an attempt to get the best position for the sprint.
As the bell sounded the pace once again lifted a notch and those riders feeling the effects of a day's racing began drifting towards the back. In the final bend riders were five abreast on the narrow track, no-one knowing who was going to come out ahead.
Right at that moment O'Shea burst out of the bunch and surged clear of both Wilksch and Kersten to take the final event of the night, before taking a well deserved rest.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mark Gunter/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph
Junior under 13 scratch race 1 Macey Stewart 2.46.30 2 William McDonagh 3 Andrew Hinkley 4 Emma Apolny Junior under 15 scratch race 1 Jesse Kerrison 4.11.22 2 Nathan Hinkley 3 Kayla Salopek 4 Jacob Langham Junior under 17 scratch race 1 Luke Okerby 6.44.50 2 Sam Brett 3 Dale Parker 4 Julian Bissett Women's 1000m handicap 1 Holly Williams 1.10.97 2 Emma Smith 3 Ryla Jakelski 4 Esther Pugh U'ren B&E Personal Banking UCI sprint series 1 Watanabe Kazunari 11.57 2 Kitasuru Tsubaba 3 Azizul Hasni 4 Jason Niblett AJ Clarke & Sons 2000m wheelrace 1 Stephen Hall 2.13.36 2 Kelyn Akuna 3 Peter Loft 4 James Schneider 5 Adrian Hanson Junior under 13 1000m wheelrace 1 Emma Apolny 1.31.28 2 Rachel Loft 3 Macey Stewart 4 Ronin Munro Junior under 15 wheelrace 1 Kayla Salopek 2.38.45 2 Jesse Kerrison 3 Callum Munro 4 Carmel Loft Junior under 17 wheelrace 1 Dylan King 2.28.24 2 Luke Okerby 3 Jason Boundy 4 Scott Bransden B&E Personal Banking UCI keirin 1 Shane Kelly 2.33.45 2 Mark French 3 Ben Kersten 4 Nagai Kiyofumi (Japan 5 Jason Niblett 6 Scott Sunderland Women's 2000m wheelrace 1 Kirsty Broun 2.28.53 2 Amy Cure 3 Melissa Hoskins 4 Hong Kong 1 5 Louise Moriarty 6 Esther Pugh U'ren 7 Rebecca Barwick Searoad Latrobe 3000m wheelrace 1 Scott Law 3.20.06 2 Leigh Howard 3 Edward Wilson 4 Adrian Sansonetti 5 Duane Johanson 6 Daniel Cutting Devon Industries elimination 1 Leigh Howard 2 Glen O'Shea 3 Todd Wilsch 4 Evan Oliphant 5 Sean Finning 6 Darren Young B&E Personal Banking UCI women's points race 1 Laura McCaughey 2 Kirsty Broun 3 Jessica Berry 4 Gina Grain 5 Kate Cullen 6 Hong Kong 1 7 Colleen Hayduck 8 Satomi Wadami 9 Louise Moriarty 10 Amy Cure Women's B grade scratch race 1 Esther Pugh U'ren 2 Sarah Cure 3 Myfanwy Galloway 4 Kate DePaoli Women's C grade scratch race 1 Belinda Mason 4.15.73 2 Stephanie Hansen 3 Emma Lawson 4 Andrea Heron Men's E grade scratch race 1 Ben Kettle 6.38.34 2 Joel Stearnes 3 Andrew Latreille 4 Dean Benedetti Men's D grade scratch race 1 Alastair Louitt 6.20.07 2 Jeremy Hill 3 Colin Barnes 4 Justin McMullens B&E Personal Banking UCI team sprint 1 Japanese 45.05 2 VIS 45.52 3 Malaysia 46.30 Men's C grade scratch race 1 Andrew Dolan 5.47.40 2 Jordan Van Der Togt 3 Peter Loft 4 Clay Murfett 5 Jason Bellchambers Men's B grade scratch race 1 Duane Johanson 5.57.18 2 Edward Wilson 3 Matthew Meisel-Dennis 4 Simon Price Men's A grade scratch race 1 Glen O'Shea 9.48.41 2 Todd Wilksch 3 Ben Kersten 4 Leigh Howard 5 Nathan Clarke