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Results and Reports for July 6-12, 2002
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Cardiff International Grand Prix
Maindy Cycle Track, Cardiff, South Wales, July 6-7, 2002
Commonwealth Games Stars Invade Cardiff
Commonwealth games sprinters descended on Cardiff over the weekend to fine-tune their preparations for the forthcoming Manchester games. A strong Australian team led by World Keirin Champion Ryan Bailey, Shane Kelly, Sean Eadie, Jobie Dajka and Ben Kersten looked favourites to take home the majority of the prize money. However, they did not bargain on strong performances from Latvians Ainers Kiksis and Viesturs Berzins and Czech star Pavel Buran.
Latvians Berzins and Kiksis have been preparing for the European and World Championships alongside the GB squad in Germany but made the trip to Cardiff to win some prize money to put towards their training and racing budget. Latvia doesn't even have a track to train on so much of Berzins' and Kisis' time is spent travelling to train and compete. Last year they scooped £1800 at the Cardiff meeting and have now made it a firm part of their racing calendar.
The Aussie team have been preparing for the games in Europe for some time now. Australian coach Martyn Barras has been pleased with their preparations, seeing the Cardiff meeting as an ideal chance to fine tune performances before the games. The former British Sprint Coach told the local press, "Cardiff has always been an excellent meeting with some tough riders out there. We like the atmosphere of the event here in Cardiff and of course the timing of the event is ideal - this is the last meeting before we head off to the commonwealth games. We're looking to make sure that the race times of the riders are correct and that they are starting to find the right kind of sharpness needed for the Games. For the last 6 weeks now, everything has started to come together and , to be honest, they have been above expectations, plus we have strength in depth, so we're about ready for the big one".
At the start of the year Barras told the GB sprinters that they were going to follow them everywhere throughout the year and in the build up to the games, so he was a little disappointed not to be meeting up again with some of his former riders. But the new breed of GB sprinters including Andy Slater, Dave Heald and Alwyn McMath were on hand to make sure the Aussies or the Europeans didn't have it all their own way.
In the end it was the Lativians who secured the big wins: Kiksis claimed the Hilton Hotels Grand Prix Sprint, from Jobie Dajka and team mate Viesturs Berzins. Berzins also took the Fordthorne Welsh Open Sprint and Pavel Buran the Maindy Mile in spectacular fashion. However, the Aussies and GB teams didn't go home empty handed - the Aussies won the Keirin with Shane Kelly rather than their world champ Ryan Bailey, and GB rider Andy Slater won the handicap in a thrilling final from Sean Eadie.
It wasn't just the sprinters warming up for the commonwealth games. Local rider Huw Pritchard also has his sights set on games glory after some magnificent performances earlier this year. And Huw showed that he is peaking at the right time with fine wins in the Laurent-Perrier Champagne 20km scratch and Moat House Derny Pace. With Welsh coach Shane Sutton watching from the track centre, Huw faced some tough opposition from James Taylor (City of Edinburgh), Paul Sheppard (Anglia Sport) Ross Muir (Scotland), Marcus Kammerman (Swiss), David Hubschwerlin (France), American visitor Garth Blackburn and surprise entry on the line, former Tour de France stage winner Magnus Backsted. However, with wins over Backsted in the points and scratch races, Huw showed that he will be no push over in the forthcoming games and should not be overawed by the challenge from the professional Australian riders.
Organiser Alex Wharton was certainly pleased with the spectacular racing the weekend had to offer. However, despite the Cardiff Grand Prix being one of Britain's premier track events, he was disappointed that more spectators had not turned up, particularly with the riders on show. "This is a free event, and in three weeks' time the public will have to pay £50 to see the same riders in the Commonwealth Games. I think it may be some apathy with the cycling public, but they had a chance to see some of the best riders in the world and that's a pity". Nevertheless, those spectators that were there had a fantastic treat of cycle racing and went home talking about the weekend's outstanding performances.
Hilton Hotel Grand Prix Sprint
The Cardiff GP sprint events attracted a superb field over the weekend, with the imminent Commonwealth Games helping to attract a swathe of world class Australians and a smattering of Trinidadian riders to compliment the familiar European aces. World Keirin Champ Ryan Bayley was perhaps the biggest draw, but he was joined in qualifying by Ben Kirsten (Aus), Pavel Buran (Cz), Garth Blackburn (USA) and Visturs Berzin (Lat). Indeed, the quality men's field exceeded 50 in the sprints alone. Twenty one qualified from the Time Trial to go through to three rounds, including reps, followed by semis and a final.
The Aussies travelled from their Commonwealths preparation base in Switzerland to gain some racing prior to the Games. The Latvians travelled from their base in Cottbus (where thy have been training alongside the Brits). The GB Team also made special arrangements to break off their Commonwealth preparations to support the event, with England Team sprinter Andy Slater heading the home contingent.
Qualifying for the Hilton Cardiff Sprint Grand Prix produced a familiar name at the top of Results in Sean Eadie (Aus), with Alwyn McMath best of the home riders in sixth place.
From the very first round the big names started to waiver and upsets were very much the order of the day. Andy Slater progressed into the second round with a win over Drcmanek and Blackburn, whilst Alwyn McMath saw off the challenge of Leeds' Jon Norfolk and Berzin to also progress. Barney Storey (GB Paralympic Tandem pilot) and Dave Heald (GB Team rider) went into the reps, where Barney produced a powerful ride to beat Dave and Ben Kirsten.
In Round two Andy Slater got the better of Jobie Dajka and a resurgent Neil Potter (Scunthorpe Poly), whilst Alwyn McMath was put into the reps after losing out to Latvian star Kiksis. Barney lost out to Kelly and Buran. In the reps both failed to progress: Alwyn lost to Buran in a photo finish, and Barney to Jon Norfolk.
Round three saw 6 riders line up in three races. Slater just missed out to Berzin who had managed to survive all his earlier reps. The three losers found themselves in the third round rep, where the winner would go through to the semi, and the 2nd and 3rd would take 5th and 6th overall. Slater found himself sandwiched between two powerful Aussies, Eadie and Kelly, who duly worked him over - Slater challenged Eadie for the front with100m to go and Eadie moved off his line and took Andy up the track to leave the way clear for the trailing Kelly to move through to the semi. Eadie was subsequently relegated and Andy placed 5th overall.
In the semis, Kiksis beat his teamate Berzin and Dajka got the better of Kelly. A tight final went to Kiksis 2-1, and Berzin beat Kelly for 3rd place.
With the Commonwealths on everyone's mind, the event was a good outing for Slater, who will have learnt a thing or two about his Australian opponents and will doubtless be looking to square things on his home patch later in the month.
Cardiff County Sprint
In Saturday's supporting sprint event, Trinidadian brothers Ako and Azikiwe Keller triumphed in the Cardiff County Sprint, relegating Welsh Commonweath Games rider Joby Ingram Dodd to 3rd. Joby qualified for the final after his semi had to be re-run following a high speed crash involving Richie Howells (Merthyr CC). Howells crashed at 35mph with 200m to go sustaining a broken collar bone and facial injuries. He was quickly taken to hospital, but was well enough to watch Sunday's racing from the sidelines.
The most eagerly awaited event of the weekend was the Classic Maindy Mile. Pavel Buran has made this event his own in recent years and he wasn't about to let go of the trophy he has held for the past 3 years in a hurry. But he left it late... very late! With three and a half laps to the mile, positioning in vital in this race - travelling at 35mph and trying to move up the bunch being almost impossible - apart for Buran that is. The Australian team quickly got to the front at the start of the race setting up a fantastic lead-out train for Shane Kelly. Into the last lap and riders were flying out the back of the bunch, the high pace proving too much. Buran was nowhere to be seen at this point. Into the back straight and Taylor and Pritchard attack down the outside, moving up alongside the Aussie team, but getting no further. Buran was still 25 riders back at this point but had decided that now was the right time to make his move. A powerful sustained burst of speed took him up the bunch but with 200m to go, there were still 15 riders in front, all going flat out. Coming into the home straight he had just the Aussie team left to pass and by the finish line, they were all behind him. An incredible ride - and one which everyone was talking about for the rest of the weekend.
Coors 20km Points Race
First blood in the endurance races went to James Taylor in the Coors 20km Points Race. Overcoming some tough opposition in the form of Welsh duo Huw Pritchard and Paul Sheppard, Marcus Kammerman (Swiss), David Hubschwerlin (France) and American Garth Blackburn, Taylor got the verdict from Pritchard and Blackburn.
Skanska Construction 20km Madison
Proving that sprinters can last the distance when they try, Pavel Buran (Czech) finished off the first day's racing by winning the Skanska Construction 20km Madison with Czech mate Arnost Drcmanek. With tough competition from Anglo-Welsh pairing Taylor and Pritchard, American-Aussie duo Garth Blackburn and Ben Kersten and Franco-Swiss pair Marcus Kammerman and David Hubschwerlin, the points were evenly distributed and it was still anyone's race coming into the final sprint lap. Taylor and Pritchard seemed to have it in the bag as Taylor put a 20m gap into the Czech mates with 200m to go. But a last gasp change saw Arnost through Pavel into a powerful sprint which took him around Taylor on the line to secure the win by a handful of points and claim the £150 first prize.
Dalton Printers 10km Points Race
Sunday saw a surprise entrant on the line - Swedish professional Magnus Backsted (Team Fakta). The Tour de France stage winner had been a spectator on Saturday with his wife Megan and daughter Elynor and decided to join the action on Sunday, provoking a series of double-takes from other competitors as he lined up for his first race. And it wasn't long before he showed his class, riding clear with Huw Pritchard after the first sprint lap in the Dalton Printers 10km Points Race. Sharing the work and the points, the bunch seemed resigned to their fate until late on when Scottish Commonwealth Games riders Richard Chapman and Ross Muir jumped clear. Pritchard and Backsted were in no dange however with Huw taking the win from Magnus and Chapman in 3rd.
Simon's Cycles Devil
Magnus went one better in his next event - the Simon's Cycles Devil - claiming the win from Huw Pritchard and Alistair Rutherford (GS Strada). Staying near the front and out of trouble, Magnus showed his strength, powering down the back straight over the last lap to such effect that no-one could get past in the home straight.
Moat House Derny Pace
Noisiest race of the weekend was the Moat House Derny Pace series, where each rider completed 20km behind a small motorbike (derny) offering protection from the wind. The qualifying rounds over 10km saw some spectacular blow-ups from some fancied riders whilst other desperately clung on to qualify. Unluckiest was local rider Mark Cooper (CC Cardiff) who was looking safe to qualify for the semis when his Derny's chain came detached with 6 laps remaining.
The final comprised Welsh Commonwealth Games hopes Paul Sheppard and Huw Pritchard (Anglia Sport), American Garth Blackburn, Swiss Marcus Kammerman, James taylor (City of Edinburgh) and former national champion Simon Cope (34th Nomads). Kammerman made his intentions clear at the start of the 20km final making his way immediately to the front and setting a high tempo. With a strong wind, the Derny pacers struggled to maintain a constant speed around the whole lap, but were touching 36mph around the track. American Garth Blackburn was having some difficulties finding any shelter behind his smaller pacer Colin Denham who had paced Russell Williams to the national championship in June. With 15 laps to go the race was taking shape with Kammerman out front but Taylor and Pritchard closing fast. With 10 to go, Pritchard started to move alongside Taylor - Taylor responded but the pressure was too much and he exploded in spectacular style. With 5 to go Pritchard and pacer Ian Smith were now in Kammerman's wheel tracks with Kammerman urging on his pacer. But his earlier efforts had took their toll and Pritchard overtook in the closing laps to claim a popular victory . Simon Cope came through late on to claim 3rd place with pacer Roger Hughes.
Leo Abse and Cohen Keirin Cup
Much was expected of the Leo Abse and Cohen Keirin with half of last year's world championship field in attendance. However, World Champ Ryan Bailey had to concede to his team mate Shane Kelly in this exciting race. With 3 Aussies in the final, it seemed like one of them would secure the win and so it proved with former kilometre world champion leading out and not being headed by the line. Behind, American Garth Blackburn, 5th with 90 metres to go somehow found room on the inside of Sean Eadie to snatch 2nd, with Kiksis claiming 3rd.
Millennium Travel 500m Handicap
Qualifying fastest in his heat, Andy Slater went on to win the Millennium Travel Handicap, but not after Sean Eadie had pushed him all the way. Riding off the 30m mark, Slater had team mate Dave Heald 9 metres in front to chase, with Eadie off from the 10m mark. Slater was out in front by the 200m line but Eadie was closing fast, having to take the long way round the back markers. On the line it was Slater taking the £150 first prize, but with Eadie just one bike length behind in second and Dave Heald in 3rd.
Fordthorne Welsh Open Sprint
The 500m Fordthorne Welsh Open Sprint saw tactical experience win over numerical advantage. Following a series of exciting 10-up heats, Viesturs Berzins progressed to the final along with 3 Australians, Shane Kelly, Sean Eadie and Ben Kersten. With the Aussies using the numbers in satudrday's sprint events to their advantage, Berzins appeared to have his hands full. However, this time, Berzins was too strong and his acceleration over Sean Eadie with 200m to go was too fast giving him a comfortable win and the £150 first prize.
Laurent Perrier Champagne 20km Scratch
The weekend's racing finished in exciting style with the Laurent Perrier Champagne 20 km scratch. After some brief attacks came to nothing in the first 15 laps, a strong break of Magnus Backsted, Huw Pritchard, James Taylor, Ben Elliot and Joby Ingram-Dodd moved clear of the field. Scottish Commonwealth Games Rider Ross Muir spotted the danger and impressively bridged the quarter lap gap. Ben Kersten also tried his luck but was left dangling 30m off the back of break, before drifting back to the bunch. With 16 laps to go, attacks from Magnus and Huw split the break in three with Muir joining Huw and Magnus in the lead, Taylor and Elliot behind and Joby trying to get back to them. With 7 laps left the bunch was lapped and pulled off the track by Chief Commissaire Louise Jones under the new UCI regulations. With 4 to go, Magnus attacked and was chased down by Muir. Sensing an attack from behind by Huw, Muir moved up the track to block it, only to receive an immediate warning from the Chief Commissaire. In the end it came down to a last lap sprint with Magnus leading out. However, Huw had too much speed and came round him in the home straight to claim his last win of the weekend with Ross in third. Taylor finished 4th and Joby 5th after spending the last 10 laps chasing on his own.
British Transport Police Youth Team Challenge
The youth racing took a new and exciting format at the Cardiff Grand Prix with the final result going right to the wire. Riders from mixed ability teams from Halesowen, Holland, Cardiff, Scunthorpe and an All-Stars team were nominated to compete in various events over the weekend, including a Keirin, Madison, Derny Pace, 60m sprint and endurance races. The highlight was the team sprint which saw all 5 members plus an international sprinter timed over 3 laps of the track. The first 3 teams were separated by less than one second with Halesowen winning with help from Arnost Drcmanek (Czech), Cardiff 2nd with help from Pavel Buran and Holland third with Ben kersten in support. Meanwhile, Halesowen riders Peter Sergeant and David Harris claimed the Madison, Tom Smith (Cardiff) the Derny pace and Keirin and Gerit Peetoom (Holland) the Devil. The last scratch race of the weekend decided the overall winning team and it was Gerrit Peetoom who secured the win for his Dutch team.
B category Races
In between his exploits for Cardiff in the Youth City Challenge, Under 16 rider Tom Smith (CC Cardiff) showed his class in the B Cat races by taking the unkown distance and Don Skene Cycles Mile. Tom also picked up second places in the Pat Jerome Car Care Unkown Distance and Fat Boy 10 lap scratch. He also managed to ride the 6 lap wine course de primes, winning 2 bottles in the process, although these were later confiscated by judge Anne Smith for "safe keeping". IN other races, Jon Cannings (VC St Raphael) ran out winner in the elimination race and Elfyn Jones (Deeside Olympic) took the 10 lap scratch with a solo attack over the last 3 laps. Tony Brooks (Brooks Cycles in Gear) won the Pat Jerome Car Care Unknown Distance in a last lap sprint.
Hilton Hotel Grand Prix Sprint qualifiers 1 S. Eadie (Aus) 11.29 2 J. Dajka (Aus) 11.31 3 A. Kiksis (Lat) 11.44 4 J, Lepka (Svk) 11.59 5 S. Kelly (Aus) 11.63 6 A. McMath (GBr) 11.66 7 A. Drcmanek (Svk) 11.70 8 A. Slater (GBr) 11.72 Sprint finals 1 Kiksis 2 Dajka 3 Berzin 4 Kelly 5 Slater 6 Eadie Maindy Mile 1 Pavel Buran (Cze) Coors 20km Points Race 1 James Taylor 2 Huw Pritchard 3 Garth Blackburn Skanska Construction 20km Madison 1 Pavel Buran/Arnost Drcmanek (Cze) 2 James Taylor/Huw Pritchard Dalton Printers 10km Points Race 1 Huw Pritchard 2 Magnus Backsted (Swe) 3 Richard Chapman Simon's Cycles Devil 1 Magnus Backsted (Swe) 2 Huw Pritchard 3 Alistair Rutherford (GS Strada) Moat House Derny Pace 1 Huw Pritchard/Ian Smith 2 Marcus Kammerman 3 Simon Cope/Roger Hughes Leo Abse and Cohen Keirin Cup 1 Shane Kelly 2 Garth Blackburn 3 Kiksis Fordthorne Welsh Open Sprint 1 Viesturs Berzins 2 Sean Eadie Laurent Perrier Champagne 20km Scratch 1 Huw Pritchard 2 Magnus Backsted 3 Ross Muir 4 James Taylor 5 Joby Ingram-Dodd