Vodaphone Arena, Melbourne
The 106th running of the Austral Wheelrace was full of surprises, with 16 year old Zak Dempster taking the glory. He had punctured just before his scheduled heat, being delayed and riding for his place in the final against Shane Kelly and Todd Wilsch - favourites for the victory.
As it was, in the final, he took the sprint and was clearly overjoyed at his victory.
The 12 lap women's points handicap was relatively sedate until the first sprint at 8 laps, when Belinda Goss (Tas) opened up the throttle, followed by the bunch. There was a second intermediate sprint at 4 laps and, of course, the sprint for the finish.
The race was led in by Jessica Berry then Claire Schneider and Jenny Macpherson. The points totals meant that the event was won by Catherine Allen, Jessica Berry was second and third, Goss.
The handicap race was a 6 lap dash for the line, with Belinda Goss on scratch and longmarkers out as far as 155m. Although those off shorter marks quickly caught the group which had formed of longmarkers within the first 2 laps, Goss was never able to close the gap. Those starting around the Swan Street bend (between 50m and 90m) contested the sprint from the front.
Jenny Macpherson took the race from Claire Schneider and Kylie Howlett. Victoria Freeland was 4th.
Afterwards, Macpherson spoke to WomensCycling.net. She revealed that she switched to cycling from rowing 4 years ago. After one year of competition in Australia, she travelled to the UK, competing in local events their and getting a taste of the Manchester Velodrome (which, like the Vodaphone, is a Ron Webb designed track). At 5'11" (180cm), Macpherson towers over many of her fellow competitors. She has ambition too - she has an eye on the Geelong Tour and UCI Geelong World Cup event at the end of February. Beyond that, she will concentrate upon the Australian Track Championships, where a good ride might help her ambition to ride the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
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