Cyclists on fire at 2019 Track National Championships
8 April 2019
CYCLING: Stirring victories to Caitlin Ward (VIC) and Thomas Clarke (SA) in the keirins, plus Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW) and Josh Harrison (SA) in the points races capped off an action-packed four days of racing at the 2019 Cycling Australia Track National Championships in Brisbane.
Elite Men’s Keirin
Following a series of dramatic turns, South Australia’s Thomas Clarke was finally crowned keirin national champion on the final day of the 2019 Cycling Australia Track National Championships.
Birthday boy Clarke celebrated his maiden keirin title after crossing the line in a barnstorming run to the finish. However, moments after completing the victory lap, Clarke was relegated by the commissaires for being deemed to take advantage on the track apron, giving the title to teammate James Brister.
Following a review secondary vision, commissaires downgraded the penalty against Clarke which saw him reinstated to the gold medal position.
“I think that was probably the most stressed I have ever been after that race, I knew it was going to be tight, there were a lot of decisive moves made,” Clarke said.
"At the time nothing that I did was intentional to break the rules. I came across the line comfortable I had got the job done properly, and I couldn’t help but be upset when I was relegated,” he continued.
“Then when it was reversed, I was just so over the moon, I don’t know what to say, it has been pretty crazy.”
The win caps a strong season from Clarke, a member of the Australian Cycling Team Podium Potential Academy, which was punctuated by dual gold at the Track World Cup in Hong Kong in January.
“I have taken a few big steps in the past twelve months I feel, stepping off the Tandem after Gold Coast Comm Games, and I have dedicated myself to the single bike now,” Clarke said. “With that commitment, I want to put my stamp on it and see where I can take this and I think I have shown over the past twelve months I have the potential to move forward. I can’t wait to see what the next six months brings.”
After the dust settled, Brister was awarded the silver, while Western Australia’s Matthew Richardson took the bronze medal.
Elite Women’s Keirin
Twenty-four hours after etching her name onto the sprint honour roll, Victoria’s Caitlin Ward grabbed the keirin crown with a powerful victory on the final day of the 2019 Cycling Australia Track National Championships.
“That was amazing, the keirin has always been my favourite event and I was pretty devastated last year to crash out of it,” Ward said.
“It was really nice to redeem myself this year and come out and not only win it but win it with a really dominant performance.”
Ward made a brave, but calculated decision to move to the front with three laps remaining, before proving she was the form rider of the meet as she held off a late challenge from Madison Janssen (VIC) and Breanna Hargrave (SA).
The sprint and the keirin wins come after a challenging three years for Ward in which she was forced off the bike for 15 months due following a string of injuries including a crushed ankle.
Late in 2018 Ward joined the Australian Cycling Team Podium Potential Academy and enjoyed a return to the World Cup scene in January where she posted a personal best result in the sprint.
“I’ve said it a thousand times ‘I’m back I’m back I’m back’ and something else comes up or I injure myself again or have some more unfortunate events but I’m totally thrilled with this competition I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Elite Women’s 25km Points Race
In a world-class points race, Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW) outsprinted 2015 world champion and dual defending champion Amy Cure (TAS) on the final lap to win the points race national title.
“That was very unexpected, but I went out there with no expectations and to have fun. I just enjoyed myself and came away with the win,” Ankudinoff said, who claimed dual world titles last month in the individual and team pursuit.
Ankudinoff, Cure, hometown favourite Kristina Clonan (QLD) and individual pursuit champion Maeve Plouffe set the tempo early as they took a lap on the field after 20 laps of the 100-lap race.
With 30 laps to go, Annette Edmondson (SA) broke away, and with Cure hot on her wheel, the pair took a lap which sent Cure into a commanding lead.
A breakaway group of six riders lead by Ankudinoff responded with a lap of their own, reducing the margin between Ankudinoff and Cure to four points with two sprints remaining.
Reigning world champion Alex Manly lapped the field to add 20 points to her total, but the race was decided in a drag race to the line which saw Ankudinoff storm to the final sprint win and the gold.
“I knew it would be tough given last night’s scratch race was bloody tough,” Ankudinoff said, who went within metres of stealing the scratch gold from Amy Cure on Friday evening.
“It was a world-class field, I took an early lap and just hoped that it paid off as I didn’t know what I would have in the last twenty laps as that is when you can lose a bike race.
“I kept my composure, put it all on the line in the final sprint and definitely finished with nothing left and couldn’t be happier.”
Ankudinoff finished with 66 points, Cure on 62 points, eight ahead of Queenslander Kristina Clonan (54) who won the bronze.
The under 19 women’s madison kicked off the final day of the 2019 National Championships as Queensland's Francesca Sewell and Lauren Robards (40points) rode to a comfortable victory. They finished ten points clear of South Australia's Katrina Chung-Orr and Ella Sibley (30pts) with Ashley Jones and Elizabeth Nuspan (VIC) (23pts).
The win gave the pair their second national title for the week after teaming to win gold in the team pursuit win earlier in the National Championships.
The Victorian pairing Graeme Frislie and Bill Simpson took gold in the under 19 men’s madison, finishing on 29 points. The pair headed into the final sprint tied for the lead with eventual bronze medalists Kurt Eather and Luke Britten (NSW) who ended the race on 27 points.
James Derrick and Oliver Bleddyn (WA) jumped from fifth to second by winning the final sprint and claiming the double points on offer.
The win gave Frislie his fourth gold of the Championships, while Simpson celebrated a third title.
Elite Men’s 40km Points Race
South Australian Josh Harrison (63 points) won the 2019 elite men’s points race over a stellar field including the defending national champion Kelland O’Brien (VIC) who claimed the silver medal (52 points). Victorian young gun Luke Plapp rounded out the podium on 40 points after an impressive ride in his first year in the elite category.
The race got off to an unusually slow start with the sprint points spread across the field. The first successful break came from the quartet of Josh Harrison, Alex Porter (SA), Stephen Hall (WA) and Luke Plapp who all lapped the field for twenty points.
The trio of Sam Welsford (WA), Jarrad Drizners (SA) and Kelland O’Brien quickly responded and lapped the field as the top seven riders separated themselves from the rest of the pack on the leader board.
O’Brien held the lead for more than thirty laps as riders like Plapp, Harrison and Hall tried to break away and desperately surge for the extra twenty points.
Harrison then stole the lead from O’Brien after the 12th sprint with Plapp and Hall keeping themselves well and truly in the race.
With one sprint lap to go Harrison had a two-point buffer on O’Brien and at the bell lap, Harrison took the lead and powered home to claim the double points and the green and gold jersey.