Four days, four headlines from 2019 #OceaniaTrack
The Australian Cycling Team wrapped up its start to the 2019 international track season at the Oceania Cycling Confederation Track Cycling Championships at the Adelaide Superdrome.
The first stop in the qualifying process for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the Oceania Championships is one of the busiest events on the team’s schedule for the summer with 40 titles awarded over four days in the elite and under 19 categories.
With so many events in so few days, we have highlighted four of the talking points from the four days of racing.
Matt motors and Steph scorches
There would be no stopping Australia’s king and queen of track sprinting with Matthew Glaetzer and Stephanie Morton claiming five gold between them.
Donning his rainbow jersey in the sprint, reigning world champion Glaetzer scorched the cold Adelaide velodrome in qualifying (9.725secs) before taking care of New Zealand’s Sam Webster and Edward Dawkins on his way to the final where he edged teammate Nathan Hart (Australia) for the gold.
"It is an important title with good (qualifying) points now the Olympic qualifying has begun," said Glaetzer who also claimed the keirin crown.
Stephanie Morton equalled her 2018 Commonwealth Games performance with a triple gold medal haul. She opened her campaign with gold in the team sprint with three-time world champion Kaarle McCulloch, before taking the keirin crown.
On the final day of competition, Morton clocked 10.593secs in qualifying, just .07 outside of her personal best set at April’s Games.
Morton reached the final after wins over Australia’s Lara Tucker and New Zealand’s Olivia Podmore, before proving too powerful for Natasha Hansen (New Zealand).
"It was a tough one, but it was good with a real quality field out there,” Morton said after her keirin win. “It is cool the Oceania Champs are here in Adelaide, and we have such a strong women's field. So to come away with the win, I am happy.”
Madison future in good (sets of) hands
With the Madison set to feature at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after being reintroduced to the programme for men and added for women, the Australian chances in just under two years from now looks promising.
Macey Stewart and Georgia Baker teamed to take the women’s crown, while Cameron Scott and Alex Porter dominated the men’s event.
It continues a strong year in the event for Stewart, who came into the Australian Cycling Team program last month, with the Tasmanian claiming the 2018 Oceania and national titles with Kristina Clonan.
"A big confidence boost to go back to back in my favourite event,” said Stewart, who on her way to Paris for this weekend’s opening Tissot UCI Track World Cup series where she will race the Madison with Clonan.
“It is exciting it [the Madison] is an Olympic event now, as it has always been my favourite event. It is exciting to be able to focus on it over the next couple of years towards Tokyo."
Sharing the endurance spoils
The results showed Australia’s endurance stocks run deep as the team shared the spoils across the Madison, omnium, points and scratch races and team pursuit.
Australia’s world record holding team pursuit quartet showed their prowess in the bunch events, with Sam Welsford claiming both the omnium and scratch races, Kell O’Brien winning the points and, while Alex Porter took the Madison (with Cameron Scott).
"The omnium was fun today! It has been a while since I have raced on the track, so it was good to get out there," said Welsford. "The Oceania Championships is good to see how you are going at the start of track season and as I have a bunch focus at the World Cups, it is perfect for peace of mind and confidence to get the win."
In the women’s events, veteran Ashlee Ankudinoff continued her strong 2018 with three wins on the week in the scratch, points, plus the team pursuit where she teamed with team newcomers Kristina Clonan and Macey Stewart, plus Georgia Baker.
“We have had two newbies in Kristina and Macey come into the squad, and I think they stepped up tremendously, we couldn’t be happier to start our season off with a gold medal,” said Ankudinoff.
Like Ankudinoff, Baker celebrated triple gold on the week, triumphing individually in the omnium, with Stewart in the Madison and the team pursuit.
Long haul celebration
There was little time for celebration following the Championships, with a 13-member contingent checking in for a long haul flight to Paris on Sunday night.
The team will have a few days to acclimatise and shed the jet lag ahead of this weekend’s opening Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup Series in Saint Quentin en Yvelines.
The team set to contest the opening round is:
Following Paris, the sprint crew is set to race on a third continent in three weeks at the Series’ second round in Canada. The endurance contingent will head to the London Six-Day event.
A host of Australia’s world champions, world record holders and Commonwealth champions will headline this week’s 2019 Oceania Track Cycling Championships at the Adelaide Super-drome.
Reigning sprint world champion Matthew Glaetzer, Olympic medallist and dual world champion Annette Edmondson, triple Commonwealth champion Stephanie Morton plus team pursuit world record holders in Kelland O'Brien, Alexander Porter, Samuel Welsford and Leigh Howard will be in action.
The four-day competition is set to showcase some of the sport’s young guns including sprinter Holly Takos, and endurance riders Kristina Clonan and Luke Plapp.
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A dual 2018 junior world champion, Plapp, 17, was recently announced in the Australian Cycling Team’s Podium Potential Academy and will make his debut in the elite ranks at the Championships.
“Racing the Oceania Championships is going to be an unreal experience. It will be the first time pulling on the green and gold in the elite men’s category and racing the likes of the older boys from the Australian Cycling Team for the first time at a major championship,” said Plapp who will move from Melbourne to Adelaide to take up the full-time Academy position.
Plapp will take to the track in the team pursuit with fellow Academy members Godfrey Slattery, Conor Leahy and Jarrod Drizners. Australian Cycling Team’s Cam Scott completes the outfit.
“I think we have a pretty awesome team created from the new Podium Potential Academy and I can’t wait to see where we can take it. There’s a huge opportunity ahead and being in such an elite environment with the support around can only make us grow.”
2017 Oceania champion Holly Takos, 22, has been steadily honing her craft with the Australian Cycling Team over the past few years alongside Morton and three-time world champion Kaarle McCulloch.
“It's great to be able to train with two of the best female track sprinters in the world. Everything they do is world class, from the way they train to the way they handle themselves off the bike and it has been amazing to learn from them,” said Takos. “The entire team works hard, always supporting and challenging each other, which keeps me motivated and inspires me always to be pushing myself to be my best.”
In 2017, the Adelaide-native broke through for her career win taking the Oceania keirin crown, edging Morton in the final. In 2019 she will line up in the team sprint, keirin and sprint.
“Winning my first Oceania keirin title was very special. It was my first win and opened up many opportunities for me. The keirin is one of my favourite events, so I am fired up to get back out there and give it another crack this year.
“It is great to have the Oceania Championships not only on Australian soil but in my home state, which gives the opportunity for my friends and family to come to experience the excitement of track racing.”
Kristina Clonan, 20, will make her debut as part of the Australian Cycling Team women’s endurance program, joining Olympians Annette Edmondson, Amy Cure, Ashlee Ankudinoff, Georgia Baker and Macey Stewart.
Clonan’s star has been on the rise over the past couple of seasons, with the Queenslander claiming the 2018 Oceania and National Madison titles with Macey Stewart, in addition to a host of national podium appearances. The pair will look to defend their Madison crown in Adelaide this week.
“Last season was a huge stepping stone, and I'm grateful to be racing alongside such strong girls that continually bring their A-game. It was a great confidence booster and experience, but I still have much work to do again this year,” said Clonan.
“The last few months have been pretty busy for me. Japan was a great experience. I was able to race with Macey in the Madison, under the guidance of Tim Decker, who has so much knowledge and gave Mace and myself some good insight.
“It is very motivating now to go back and race with Macey and try to defend our (Oceania) Madison title.”
2019 Oceania Track Cycling Championships
The Australian Cycling Team begins a colossal summer of international track cycling in October with the 2019 Oceania Track Cycling Championships at the Adelaide Superdrome.
The four-day Championships will run October 10 to 13 and will pit Australia’s best against trans Tasman rival New Zealand’s best, with 40 events will be decided in the elite and under 19 categories. Live Results
It will be the first hit out on Australian soil for the team since the record-breaking 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April and starts a summer of cycling which includes the UCI Track World Cup Series and World Championships sandwiched between National Championships.
Four of Australia's current team pursuit world record holders will be in action across the points, scratch, omnium and Madison events including Kelland O'Brien, Alexander Porter, Samuel Welsford and Leigh Howard.
The men’s team pursuit competition is set to showcase some of the sport’s rising stars including members of the recently announced Australian Cycling Team Podium Potential Academy such as dual 2018 junior track world champion Luke Plapp.
The women’s team pursuit will feature dual world and reigning Commonwealth champion Ashlee Ankudinoff, Olympian Georgia Baker plus Macey Stewart and Kristina Clonan who make their debut as part of the Australian Cycling Team program. Former world champion and Olympic medallist Annette Edmondson will feature in the bunch races.
A full sprint contingent will be headlined by reigning sprint world champion Matthew Glaetzer and triple Commonwealth champion Stephanie Morton. Three-time world champion Kaarle McCulloch, Olympians Patrick Constable and Nathan Hart, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Jacob Schmid, and 2017 Oceania champion Holly Takos are also confirmed.
Oceania Track Cycling Championships Overview
The Australian Team has departed the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, finishing equal third on the medal table behind the Netherlands and Belgium. Three medals; gold in the elite men’s ITT, silver in the elite women’s RR and a silver in the junior men’s ITT making this one of the best all-around performances in recent years.
Rohan Dennis etched his name into the record books with a storming ride to claim his maiden individual time trial world title, finishing some 1:21 ahead of warm favourite Tom Dumoulin. Dennis became just the second Australian to win the event after Michael Rogers claimed three consecutive titles between 2003 and 2005.
Amanda Spratt rode alone for the final 40km of the women’s road race on her way to a silver medal. She had been one of the main protagonists in a competitive and entertaining race and is just the sixth Australian woman in sixty years to reach a World Championship road race podium.
Spratt was supported as a protected leader for the first time at the World Championships, and all assembled impressively rose to the occasion. Lucy Kennedy called it “showtime” when she lit up the race on the first ascent of Igls while keeping something in reserve to nullify attacks before Spratt slipped into what was the start of the winning move.
Earlier in the week, Luke Plapp claimed silver in the junior men's time trial, adding to his dual track world titles won at the 2018 UCI Junior Track World Championships in Switzerland in August.
The final race of the World Championships saw the men's road race, with the super demanding course profile delivering on its promise of pain, pain and more pain.
The pressure and strain were evident at 90 kilometres to go with several riders being dropped from the main peloton including three-time reigning world champion Peter Sagan. The finale was a hotly contested affair with Valverde (Spain) winning from Romain Bardet (France) and Michael Woods (Canada).
Jack Haig capped off a strong 2018 season with 19th place, 1min 21secs behind the winner, after being in all the right moves in the final 20 km. Rob Power (70th) was the only other Australian finisher on a day which saw more DNFs than riders cross the finish line. In both road races, the teamwork and commitment to the race strategy were impressive, with all riders playing their part in the race results.
In other results, Callum Scotson finished tenth in the under 23 time trial, and Jai Hindley was the best placed Australian in 11th in the under 23 road race, both bagging good results amongst high-quality opposition.
Debutants Sarah Gigante and Anya Louw gained useful experience in their junior time trial and road race campaigns, with the two 17-year olds producing top 20 Time Trial results.
Australian Cycling Team Performance Director Simon Jones:
“Overall we had a really pleasing World Championships, and it is very satisfying to see the result of good pre-planning that led to good delivery on the day.
“It’s been a terrific collective effort, and I want to pay tribute to all involved this week in Austria. The manner in which the riders came together as a team and the way the staff worked as a unit in the lead-up and throughout the week in Innsbruck. It was excellent.
“Having said that, we have already started reviewing and looking at areas for improvement, with an eye on Yorkshire in 2019 and Tokyo 2020."
Australian teenager Saya Sakakibara is celebrating after claiming the win in the final UCI BMX Supercross World Cup, which also secured second overall for the Wollongong cyclist on the year-end international rankings.
“I am so over the moon,” said Sakakibara, 19. “I am so incredibly grateful for my support, and for the Australian Cycling Team for supporting me all the way and giving me the opportunity to race each round this year, especially when I contested no World Cups last year."
Round 8 FInal
Santiago del Estero, Argentina, hosted the final two rounds of the season, with Sakakibara lucky to escape with just scrapes and bruises after spectacularly crashing out of the Round 7 semi-final on Saturday when a rider crashed and took her wheels from under her.
Recovering in time for Sunday’s eighth and final round, Sakakibara lead from the gate, and with former world champion Alise Willoughby (USA) and reigning world champion Laura Smulders (Netherlands) breathing down her neck, she surged to the victory with judges awarding the win to the Australian in a photo finish.
“I did not expect that (win) especially after yesterday crash, I was kind of shaken up a little bit and little fearful coming into today. However, I got a good start and an excellent first straight, and I was able to make it work all the way to the finish line.”
ROUND 7 SF CRASH
Sakakibara finished second behind world champion Laura Smulders (Netherlands) on the BMX Supercross rankings after a season that included one win and four podium appearances, in addition to claiming sixth in her first elite career World Championship final.
“My aim this year was to gain as much experience as possible, and I did exactly that. I was able to get some wins and podiums along the way, I couldn’t be happier with this season,” said Sakakibara, who will now head back to Australia to continue preparations towards Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“I am really looking forward to getting back into the offseason, gaining strength, and hopefully I will come back faster and definitely will have more confidence heading into next season.
“Every race is critical from now on in terms of Olympic qualification for Tokyo 2020, and I will be aiming for the top, for the podium, all the way to the Olympics.
“I am working so hard to making sure I am going to be there.”
In the men’s finals, Rio Olympic finalist Anthony Dean took bronze in round eight.
Copyright Craig Dutton