Bullen and Morton crowned sprint king and queen
Mitch Bullen (NSW) and Stephanie Morton (SA) stole the show on Friday night at the 2013 Subaru Cycling Australia Track National Championships, upstaging their more fancied rivals to claim their maiden sprint titles at SydneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Dunc Gray Velodrome.
Mitch Bullen (NSW) and Stephanie Morton (SA) stole the show on Friday night at the 2013 Subaru Cycling Australia Track National Championships, upstaging their more fancied rivals to claim their maiden sprint titles at Sydney’s Dunc Gray Velodrome.
In the women’s team pursuit, West Australia made it six in a row with a resounding win, South Australia’s Luke Davison added the scratch race title to his resume and Annette Edmondson was almost perfect as she claimed the women’s points race.
In the men’s sprint it was team sprint national champion Mitchell Bullen (NSW) who stunned London Olympian Matthew Glaetzer (SA in straight heats to take the crown.
“I am over the moon,” Bullen said of his first individual national title. “I honestly can't describe this feeling, this is probably the happiest day of my life,”
In the first heat, Bullen made his move over Glaetzer on the back straight, opening a lead of almost a bike length heading into the final bend.
A late surge from Glaetzer on the line saw him almost steal the win, however Bullen went up after photo finish showed he had edged Glaetzer by mere millimetres.
A bold move from Bullen paid off in the second heat, with the 21-year-old diving under a fast moving Glaetzer inside the final 200m to take the sprinters lane.
The Tamworth cyclist then powered to cross the line ahead of the South Australian, and while Bullen’s elation was slightly delayed as commissaries reviewed the footage, his move was given the all clear to give him a 2-0 victory.
“Going into the race, I had a couple of plans in my head. I knew if I got a jump on him, everything might work out,” explained Bullen. “The door was open, and I just had to take my chance.
“All the decisions are millisecond decisions and I was lucky to get under him into the sprinters lane first. I am just glad it paid off.”
Having been disqualified in the men’s sprint in the previous two Championships, Bullen revealed he was “sweating on that decision a fair bit.”
“Since I came into the senior ranks, I have really struggled with getting the rules down pat, but this year I came here a lot more focused and relaxed.”
It was Bullen’s second gold medal of the championships after he teamed with Andrew Taylor and Peter Lewis to win the team sprint on Wednesday night in Championship record time.
But despite the thrill of his two crowns, Bullen conceded he still had work to do to be consistently competitive with Australia’s sprinting heavyweights.
“I think I have a lot more work to do before I can be considered in the same ranks like Perkins, Sunderland and Glaetzer,” he noted.
“I just have to keep putting my best foot forward and hopefully get good results and hopefully that puts me in line for bigger and better things.”
A disappointed Glaetzer lamented not being more alert given his knowledge of Bullen’s tactics.
“I knew throughout the race he was staying close to me and looking for me to get out of the lane,” Glaetzer explained, “so I knew he was always going to try that move.
“It was a very risky move, but it just paid off.”
“But I am happy with the result as this is just the start of our preparation for the world championships, so it's good to come out, be up there in the top two.”
Peter Lewis (NSW) claimed the bronze medal over Jason Niblett (SA) in straight heats.
In the women’s sprint, London Paralympic gold medalist Stephanie Morton usurped London Olympian Kaarle McCulloch to claim her maiden individual national title.
“I can’t believe it,” Morton gasped. “This is great, mum and dad have come out to watch so the win is very special.
“You sit down with your coach and you have all the plans and goals, and when you tick them off it's just great.”
Morton, who piloted Felicity Johnson to a Paralympic gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, took the crown in straight heats; something she said was always her plan, but never expected.
“Coming from the Olympic Para-cyclist program, I was used to the pressure of racing and the expectation to win gold medals,” said Morton.
“It seems like yesterday I was in London with the Paras, I haven't had time to stop and think,” Morton remarked.
Since London, Morton’s star has been on the rise with the Adelaide cyclist claiming keirin gold at the 2013 Oceania Track Championships, and silver in the sprint behind McCulloch.
At Mexico’s UCI Track World Cup in late January, Morton partnered McCulloch to win the women’s team sprint, with Morton using her knowledge of her opponent to her advantage.
“Kaarle and I are two completely different riders,” said Morton. “She is a starter and I am a second wheel. I had to just go out there and race hard.
“If I was slowing down, it would have been a dumb move by me.”
For McCulloch, 25, a heavy training period focused towards this month’s Track World Championships didn’t provide her with the perfect preparation.
“I would have liked it to have gone to three heats, but I didn't quite have the legs,” McCulloch lamented. “I tried different tactics and gears, but it wasn't to be. I executed what I wanted to excite tonight, but didn't quite just get there.
“I am not really surprised, Steph has come into the program off a really good Paralympic program, she's a Paralympic gold medalist and has a lot of talent.
“She has a lot of horsepower and both Steph and Taylor (Jennings) really proved a point this week.
“(But) Everything I am doing this year is for Track Worlds.
“In Minsk, I am really hoping for some individual success this year and I really think I can step up in the sprint, even though I came second tonight,” McCulloch explained.
With the absence of defending and 2012 Olympic sprint champion Anna Meares this week, McCulloch admitted she had felt pressure stepping into the shoes of Australia’s number one female sprinter, but is enjoying the challenge.
“There is a little more pressure on me without Anna around,” McCulloch said. “I am expected to win here now and it's a different mindset for me.
“But that is actually a really good for me to have to get used to,” McCulloch added.
In the bronze medal race, five-time junior world champion Taylah Jennings (QLD) found the podium over Rikki Belder (SA) in straight heats.
Melissa Hoskins’ lead Western Australia to their sixth consecutive 3000m team pursuit national title, teaming with Isabella King and Kelsey Robson to defeat Tasmania’s Georgie Baker, Amy Cure and Macey Stewart.
“It’s great to keep defending our title,” Hoskins remarked. “My first win was in 2008 and we have a whole new crop of girls coming through - there must be something in the water in WA because we've always got a couple of girls who can mix it up.
The final began with a false start after Tasmania’s Georgia Baker pulled her foot. However this failed to rattle West Australia, with the team leading at every split finishing the race in a time of 3mins 22.660secs, almost 2.6seconds ahead of their rivals 3mins 25.488secs.
In her first event for the championships, and after suffering a head cold for much of the past week, Hoskins admitted she was “beside herself” with nerves coming into the race.
“I hadn't put myself under any pressure and the other girls were in the individual pursuit so I was definitely more nervous than last year - especially around world championships selection time,” Hoskins explained.
The New South Wales team trio Ashlee Ankudinoff, Lara Batkin and Josie Talbot (3:30.657) were too good for ACT’s Ailie McDonald, Rebecca Wiasak and Lucy Kirk (3:31.818) in the bronze medal final.
In the women’s U19 3000m team pursuit, it was the South Australian team of Samantha Fromentin, Alex Manly and Stacey Riedel (3:35.165) who defeated West Australia’s of Molly Booker, Emily Mcredmond and Elisa Wundersitz (3:37.572).
Newly crowned individual pursuit national champion, Annette Edmondson (SA) claimed a convincing win in the 25km points race on 38 points, ten points clear of Hoskins (28 points) and Tasmania’s Amy Cure (17 points).
It was yet another dominant display from the London Olympic omnium bronze medalist, with Edmondson crossing the line first in seven of the ten intermediate sprints, controlling the pace and negating every attack.
“I think I had an advantage over the rest of the riders as I didn't ride the team pursuit earlier in the day which played into my hands,” said Edmondson.
“The bunch races are important for me, not just for the omnium, but as defending champion I definitely wanted to have a strong performance at these Championships,” Edmondson said.
A crash halted Rebecca Wiasak (ACT), Ailie McDonald (ACT) and Jessica Mundy’s (SA) race with McDonald retiring to swap bikes with Wiasak. Mundy and Wiasak rejoined the race yet had little to give to match the relentless pace of Edmondson and Hoskins.
Edmondson will aim to make it three titles when she contest the scratch race on Saturday night.
“Hopefully I can make it three, i won silver last year, but there are some very powerful riders in the race and it's very different to the points, so I am going to have be right on my game at the end,” she added.
The men’s 15km scratch race was taken out by team pursuit gold medalist Luke Davison (SA) from Caleb Ewan (NSW) and Stephen Hall (WA).
Davison made his move on the bell lap in a three-way tussle with Ewan and Hall, and while it appeared the pocket-rocket Ewan would snatch the win, he was edged by a faster finishing Davison.
“I know Caleb’s very fast but I just had to make the move when I did and hope I had enough speed to hold him off,” Davison explained.
“Tonight's gold is a definite confidence booster, especially since I've been doing mainly pursuit training.
“I’m definitely feeling it from last night especially after riding a sub 4 minute,” Davison said of his second gold in two nights.
Jay Angsuthasawit (SA) claimed the men’s under 19 keirin over Michael Docker (NSW) and Jay Castles (VIC).
With 2 laps to go Angsuthasawit was locked in second wheel and appeared to have no room to move, but the South Australian got his opportunity on the back straight after the bell, leading into the home straight to take an enthralling win.
“I was just desperately hoping someone would move so I could actually get out,” Angsuthasawit described. “Coming down the back straight the rider to my right moved out and I thought "I'll take that gap.
“It's the first time I've ever won a national championship, so this is a pretty big win for me.”
The men’s u1nder 10km scratch race was won by under 19 points race national champion Sam Welsford (WA) in a dominant display.
The 16-year-old chased down bronze medalist Jack Hickey after the Victorian broke away from the bunch with five laps remaining.
Welsford caught the escapee and held out a chasing field to enjoy a solo win, with Jack Edwards (NSW) taking the silver medal.
“I can't believe it,” Welsford said. “The move went so I just went for it and got across that last lap, I just buried it.”
"With three and two laps to go I thought I might not get him and then with one lap left I powered on a little bit and just got over the top of him,” Welsford said, noting his double gold medal haul was more than he could have dreamed of.
“The Points gold was a massive win, it was like the hardest race of the night, but this is just icing on the cake, I can't believe it."
The 2013 Subaru Cycling Australia Track National Championships will be held at Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome from 30 January to 2 February, 2013.
The Championships will be shown live on SBS TWO from 7:30pm on Friday 1 February and Saturday 2 February.