Oceania Track Champs through Olympic eyes
14 October 2014
CYCLING - TRACK: The 2014 Oceania Track Cycling Champions produced some interesting results for Australian riders pedaling towards Rio 2016.
To open proceedings, Kaarle McCulloch- who is accustomed to winning World titles and Olympic medals with Anna Meares by her side- combined with rising star Stephanie Morton to win team sprint gold. The Aussies clocked 33.661 seconds to defeat New Zealand’s Stephanie McKenzie and Katie Schofield (34.431).
The following evening, Morton held off a late challenge from Meares in the keirin to take the gold medal.
“I knew I had Mearsey on my wheel so I was making sure I watching her- because if you let an Olympic champion get away there’s no coming back from that,” Morton said.
Morton made it three from three in the women's Olympic sprint events with a win in the women's sprint in another classic showdown with Meares on the final day of competition.
Meares out-foxed Morton in the first heat, pushing her to the top of the track before holding her off in the sprint to the line. In the second, Morton sprinted past Meares, winning with a well-timed throw. In the final heat, Meares took the lead early but stalled up the back straight, forcing Morton to come through and sprint from the front. Morton built it up smoothly and took the final heat after launching hard with a half-lap to go.
“It’s hard to dictate what happens in the race; she’s got her plans and I’ve got mine and I was trying to ride it a little bit differently. I traditionally take it long and keep the pace high, so I just wanted to slow it down a bit,” said Morton, the Commonwealth Champion in this event.
“Even if I lost, if I nailed the plays right that was going to be a huge step for me and I was just lucky tonight that I pulled it off.
“I kind of had an idea that she [Meares] was going to try and slow it down so I just had to make sure that I picked it up at the right time. I managed to keep it slow for as long as I wanted to and then pick up the pace when I needed to, so it turned out really well!”
McCulloch took the bronze medal after beating Caitlin Ward (VIC) in two heats.
In women's endurance events, Annette Edmondson was dominant in the women’s omnium, winning the first five events cleanly to build a big lead over Australian Youth Olympic Festival athlete Elissa Wundersitz (WA). The London Olympic and 2014 world championship bronze medallist sealed the title after taking a lap on the field in the points race.
New Zealand’s women took out the team pursuit with the quartet of Lauren Ellis, Jaime Nielsen, Racquel Sheath and Georgia Williams crossing the line in 4mins 31.404 seconds ahead of the Australian team of Georgia Baker, Lauren Perry, Rebecca Wiasak and Elissa Wundersitz (4:34.972).
South Australian Matthew Glaetzer had a memorable meet, involved in records, tumbles and gold medal performances.
To start proceedings, Glaetzer combined with Shane Perkins and Dan Ellis to battle New Zealand’s Matthew Archibald, Edward Dawkins and Sam Webster for the men’s team sprint title. Ellis unfortunately fell in the first lap after his rear wheel slipped from under him. He avoided major harm, with Glaetzer and Perkins fighting hard over the two remaining laps back to finish only 0.20 seconds behind New Zealand who improved on their qualifying time to win gold in 44.254 seconds.
On night two, Glaetzer took out the men's sprint crown after posting the fastest time ever on Australian soil in the flying 200m qualifying (9.838secs) earlier in the day.
In the final, Glaetzer swept Zealand’s Edward Dawkins in two straight tactical races.
“In the final I executed two different race plans,” the reigning national champion said.
“From the back I set him up for that move in the last lap coming around him, so that was great.”
“But in the second one from the front it was just all about control, control. He was trying to build it up, but I didn’t let him. When you sprint from the front you want to leave the sprint as late as you can, and I did that pretty well.”
Olympic bronze medallist Perkins was too good for his younger rival Jacob Schmid (VIC) in the race for bronze. In the first heat the two touched wheels on the second last corner, and while both riders held it up Perkins escaped Schmid to take the win.
The men’s keirin attracted fierce racing throughout qualifying, with Glaetzer and fellow South Australian Jai Angsuthasawit involved in collisions with New Zealand riders Ben Stewart and Sam Webster.
In the final, a great move by Jacob Schmid to come round the field in the dying stages saw him take victory in a three-rider photo finish.
The men’s team pursuit final was a closer affair than the time split suggested. New Zealand’s Cameron Karwowski, Aaron Gate, Westley Gough and Marc Ryan got off to a very strong start, taking almost two seconds on the Australian team in the first two kilometres.
Daniel Fitter, Tirian McManus, Callum Scotson and Sam Welsford rallied in the latter half of the race to finish strongly in 4mins 02.887 seconds, over five seconds faster than the New Zealand squad (4:08.341).
In the men’s omnium, Scott Law successfully protected his lead to run away with the gold medal on 225 points, ahead of his brother Jackson Law (205pts), and New Zealand’s Aaron Gate (196pts).
Taya Conomos with Cycling Australia