SPRINT STARS SCORE DOUBLES AS FINNING TEACHES THE YOUNG GUNS A LESSON IN POINTS RACE
Sprint stars Kaarle McCulloch (NSW) and Mark French (VIC) both claimed their second gold medals of the week on day five of the Australian Track Cycling Championships at Sydney’s Dunc Gray Velodrome while Commonwealth Games Champion, Sean Finning, delivered a lesson in tactics in the men’s points race.
Hot on the wheels of yesterday’s individual sprint win Mark French teamed up with Shane Kelly and Shane Perkins to win gold for Victoria in the team sprint battle with West Australia. The southern state trio qualified fastest in an Australian Championship best time (44.772sec) to go into the final for gold as favourities against Ryan Bayley, Jason Holloway and Scott Sunderland.
French led the team out in a blistering 17.633sec first lap to set them up for the win despite admitting to feeling fatigued following last night’s sprint competition.
“I was feeling a bit tired (but) I was happy with the first lap and how I got out of the gate, and happy with the win,” said French.
Perkins and Bayley were pitted against each other in the second wheel position on their respective teams and in the final lap veteran Shane Kelly went head to head with youngster Scott Sunderland.
“Personally I would have liked to have gone faster, but as a team, its fantastic,” said Kelly who posted a similar time for the final lap as Sunderland, who two weeks ago won the kilometre time trial at the Los Angeles World Cup. “I mean we are happy all round as that’s not a bad time.”
The Victorians clocked 44.878sec in the final compared with WA’s 45.621sec. The ACT team of Daniel Ellis, Alex Bird and Gary Ryan, claimed the bronze medal in 46.812sec.
In the women’s sprint Sydney’s Kaarle McCulloch ended a seven year dominance of the event by the Meares sisters defeating Kerrie Meares in the final to add sprint gold to her 500m time trial win.
“I came back from Los Angeles (World Cup round in January) really strong and knew what to expect and came out strong,” said McCulloch who lost the first of the best of three heats to her more highly credentialled rival but fought back to win the next two and the title. “I really wanted to win this one tonight and I have so it’s great.
“In the first heat I didn’t ride tactically very well but you learn from these things,” she explained. “I knew I was the quickest one here tonight as I have been working really hard on my fitness lately and in those last two sprints I knew once I hit the back straight I was pretty confident I would win.”
Although disappointed at not retaining her title Meares was full of praise for the performance of her younger opponent.
“Kaarle is on fire at the moment and she rode really well so I am really happy for her,” the four time Australian sprint champion said. “I am at the best form I can be at the moment and tactically I felt sharp tonight but if you don’t have the legs and you’re against a faster rider you really have to put it out there.”
In the men’s 40km points race it was a case of the wily fox against the young hares as 2006 Commonwealth Games Champion Sean Finning, 23, blitzed a field stacked with teenagers to claim the win. Finning and 22 year old Tasmanian Mark Jamiseon lapped the field three times to collect a bonus 60 points each while Finning also won three of the 16 sprints and scored points in a further six sprints during the 160 lap race.
“Yeah it’s great to be getting back into some form. It’s been a long time since I have been really competitive in these especially with the quality field we had out there tonight,” said Finning who used a similar attacking style to win the Commonwealth Games points race in Melbourne. “I just wanted to keep the tempo going (so) I just kept the pace up on the front….. making sure no one else attacked.”
He won the second sprint after 20 laps and kept a watchful eye on his young rivals until halfway through the race when he launched himself off the front catching four current Junior World Champions napping. Jamieson powered away to join him and the pair gained a lap to move into first and second place. After lapping the field twice more Finning and Jamieson had cemented the gold and silver medals respectively. Finning ended the race with a massive 88 points, 19 clear of Jamieson on 69 points with reigning omnium and teams pursuit Junior World Champion, Glenn O’Shea, third on 46 points.
“I have had a couple of bulged discs in my backs (and) with my injury it was hard to know how I would be coming into these Championships,” said Finning. “Its an off and on again thing that I have to learn how to deal with and thankfully I have so the performances have been coming again which is great.”
In the U19 men’s team sprint the New South Wales team of Paul Fellows, Scott Law and Peter Lewis, again highlighted the depth of junior sprint talent in their state clocking 47.270sec for the three laps to defeat Victorians Toby Dite, Trevor Griffiths and Ben Sanders (47.561sec) in the final.
Fellows, 16, who won the U19 individual sprint win earlier in the week, praised his team mates.
“This team is the best team I have been involved in and I feel pretty confident knowing I have two of the fastest guys with me,” said Fellows.
The ACT team of Matthew Meisel-Dennis, John-Paul Orchison and Michael Phelan (49.009sec) defeated Queensland’s of Ivan Cook, Ethan O’Dell, and Michael Hepburn (49.123sec) for the bronze medal.
In the U19 25km men’s points race South Australian, Rohan Dennis, was in the points in all bar one of the 10 sprints contested during the 100 lap event. His consistency, including three sprint wins for maximum points, saw him finish with 26 points with silver medallist Luke Davison (NSW) collecting 21 points. Alex Carver (NSW) won the final sprint to finish on 14 points for the bronze medal.
“I was pretty happy (as) I was hoping for a medal and first is definitely a surprise considering I was not feeling 100 percent out there,” said Dennis. “I have been doing a lot of endurance rides over the past couple of months and I was concerned with NSW as they are strong in the sprints.”
In the U19 women’s sprint final, South Australia’s rising star Annette Edmondson, 16, added to Wednesday’s time trial gold by defeating team mate and training partner Stephanie Morton in two straight heats.
“We are quite lucky that we are good mates as it really helps to have a training partner who is at that level as it just helps the both of us to get better,” said Edmondson.
2007 Champion Phillipa Hindmarsh (QLD) defeated Sinead Cosgrove (NSW), also in two straight heats, for the bronze medal.
Earlier in the day South Australia’s Felicity Johnson and pilot Katie Parker claimed the gold medal in the AWD (athlete’s with a disability) tandem kilometre final in a time of 1min11.065sec. NSW pair Lindy Hou and pilot Toireasa Gallagher were second in 1min13.642sec whith New Zealand’s Jayne Parsons and Annalissa Farrel third in 1min13.930sec.
The men’s kilometre tandem went the way of New South Wales through a 1min05.535sec ride by Ben Demery and pilot Shaun Hopkins ahead of Queensland’s Bryce Lindores and Steven George (1min05.802sec). The Queensland pair had a restart after a hair raising tyre blow out at speed in their first attempt to set a time.
West Australians Samuel Harding and pilot Jonathan Dunlop were awarded the silver medal as the only starters in the U19 tandem kilometre after posting a time of 1min10.599sec (within 112 percent of the current elite Australian tandem record).
For full results and session details please visit the Cycling Australia website.
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Gennie Sheer, Sheer Rhetoric , Communications Director, Cycling Australia
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Cycling Australia website http://www.cycling.org.au