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Fitzroy Cycles Melbourne Cup on Wheels - NE
Vodafone Arena, Melbourne, Australia, November 30, 2002
World Championship rematch
By Mal Sawford
The stars of the first of the five race Fitzroy Cycles International Track Cycling Series were without doubt two of Australia's reigning World Champions, Sean Eadie and Jobie Dajka.
The first heat of their best of three 'World Championship rematch' Match Sprint proved just how exciting and competitive top level racing can be, thrilling the crowd when only inches separated the pair on the line with the honours going to the beardless Eadie in the sensational time of 11.117.
The second heat saw both riders use every inch of the track as the World Sprint Champion Eadie fought desperately to maintain his favoured front position, which one again saw him lead out strongly and hold off a flying Dajka to take a rare 2-0 win.
Dajka was desperate to reverse the result in the Keirin, the event in which he wears the World Championship jersey, but also had to contend with the rest of the Aces field. Both riders qualified easily in their heats, Eadie accelerating early and drawing away with only Shaun Hopkins in tow, and Dajka with a phenomenal burst from last wheel a lap from home seeing him a comfortable winner.
Eadie used his bulk to advantage to muscle his way behind the derny early on in the final, only to find the World Champion breathing down his neck. It was third time lucky on the night for Dajka as he had enough in reserve, despite minimal down time after the heats, to come over the top of a tiring Eadie to take out the win. Local star Todd Wilksch followed Dajka's wheel into second place to cap off a very successful night after winning the Elimination race earlier in the evening.
For the first time in memory, with the withdrawal of Shane Kelly due to illness, no rider earned the right from Handicapper Laurie Norris to start from Scratch in the night's main race, the Melbourne Cup on Wheels. Middle markers dominated the heats, with heat wins going to Richard England (110m), Andrew Rix (120m), Jamie Goddard (130m) and Swiss star Marcus Kamermann (70m). Only the fourth heat saw a back marker take the honours, with former Junior World Champion Shaun Hopkins of New South Wales taking an impressive win, and moving him into favouritism with the book makers.
Kamermann may have slipped under the handicappers guard somewhat, riding off the generous mark of 70 meters despite the experience of a couple of Tasmanian Christmas Carnival series under his belt to learn the intricacies of the handicap format.
Dajka finished just outside the qualifiers in his heat, despite a big charge down the back straight after some strong turns dragging the back markers into contention. Eadie rode in the same heat but ran out of legs early on and was never in contention.
The eight lap final saw the hard working back markers make up the deficit surprisingly early, with over three and a half laps of the 250 meter track to travel. Kamermann held good position towards the front of the bunch but a moments hesitation when the back markers stalled at the tail end of the field saw him boxed in.
Heat one winner Richard England seized the initiative and hit out at the bell, with young VIS star Michael Ford quick to seize the wheel. A late charge from the backmarkers saw Todd Wilksch draw level entering the final bend, but the 21 year old front runner kicked again to score the biggest win of his career.
The excited winner made special mention of his coach, Brad Robbins, in his victory speech, 'for turning him from a nobody to a somebody in two years'. In an early reward from race organisers, he was promoted to the Aces field for the final event of the night, the Scratch race, and impressed there as well by attacking midway through the race and holding a good lead while more credentialed riders were getting blown out the back! Perhaps we'll see more of the former nobody in years to come.
Visiting New South Wales rider Rebecca Ellis dominated the Women's events, winning the Elimination and Keirin, but misjudged her effort in the Scratch race after claiming the intermediate sprint and allowing Catherine Allen to impress with a great turn of speed. The 12 hour marathon car drive with the boys from NSW paid off for a rider well and truly on the comeback trail after three years battling Glandular Fever, and she will certainly be a rider to watch when she makes the trip down for the Victorian Christmas Carnivals.
In a first for the event, Australian Champion Jessica Tanner qualified for the invitational Under 17 field, and acquitted herself well in the two events won convincingly by Shepparton's Daniel Thorson. Another hi-light for the crowd was an infield interview with champion road rider Cadel Evans, who outlined his Tour de France hopes for 2003 with the Telekom team and pre season training methods (lots of coffee shop rides). Unfortunately, the versatile ex mountain bike star has no ambitions to try his hand on the track, so the next chance the cycling fans will have to see him in action will be the Tour Down Under.
Highlights from the night's racing will be shown on SBS TV on Sunday December 22, and the next race in the Fitzroy Cycles International Track Cycling Series is the Jockey Australian Madison Championship on December 21, featuring our Olympic Champions Scott McGrory and Brett Aitken and international stars Matthew Gilmore and Eric Weispfennig.
Images by Watt Shotz
Images by Sigrid Pitkin
D Scratch 1. Colin Morris (FTY) 2. Sam Bounds (WNG) 3. Damien Ladd (BGO) C Scratch 1. Damien Kierl (B/S) 2. Glen Hutchinson (FTY) 3. Andrew Bole (BWK) Women's Scratch 1. Catherine Allen (BBN) 2. Jenny Macpherson (CAR) 3. Kylie Howlett (ART) Aces Elimination 1. Todd Wilksch (HOR) 2. Robert Wilson (FTY) 3. Marcus Kamermann (SWI) Sprint Match - Sean Eadie v Jobie Dajka Heat 1: S Eadie (NSW) Heat 2: S Eadie (NSW) Heat 3. n/r J 17 Elimination 1. Daniel Thorson (SHP) 2. Zak Dempster (CSL) 3. Mario Giramondo (CAR) Melbourne Cup Heats Heat 1. Richard England (BBN) Heat 2. Andrew Rix (BGO) Heat 3. Marcus Kamermann (SWI) Heat 4. Shaun Hopkins (NSW) Heat 5. Jamie Goddard (BBN) Sprint Derby 1. Shaun Hopkins (NSW) 2. Jason Niblett (HOR) 3. Shane Perkins (CAR) Women's Elimination 1. Rebecca Ellis (NSW) 2. Tiffany Godfrey (GLW) 3. Kylie Howlett (ART) Melbourne Cup Final 1. Richard England (BBN) 2. Michael Ford (CAR) 3. Todd Wilksch (HOR) J17 Scratch 1. Daniel Thorson (SHP) 2. Mitchell Docker (BWK) 3. Michael Hill (SHP) C Elimination 1. Glen Hutchinson (FTY) 2. Simon Camroux (ACT) 3. Steve Martin (BBN) B Points Race 1. Ben Rix (BGO) 2. Tommy Nankervis (CAR) 3. Jamie Goddard (BBN) Keirin Final 1. Jobie Dajka (SA) 2. Todd Wilksch (HOR) 3. Sean Eadie (NSW) Women's Keirin 1. Rebecca Ellis (NSW) 2. Brigid Farrell (CAR) 3. Tiffany Godfrey (GLW) Aces Scratch 1. Tim Decker (BGO) 2. Leigh Egan (SHP) 3. Robert Wilson (FTY)