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Malaysian, Leow, takes surprise handicap win at Austral

Tess Downing wins Scratch

Support Races at Austral Wheelrace - Vodafone Arena, Melbourne


Reuters 3000m  Scratch Race

A field of 15 women started the scratch race, with favourite Tess Downing (Drapac Porsche), riding at the rear for the first few laps. Jessica Berry (Jayco VIS) led out the riders with Livia Gluchowska (CAR) closely following her wheel. By lap 3 the pace had not really picked up, with riders interchanging at the front comfortably. Nicole Holt (CAR) led them through with 8 to go; she looked to be struggling with her form, compared to a few weeks ago at the Sid Patterson GP, where she picked up some placings. Chloe McIntosh (US West Vic) took over the lead on the back straight as they approached 6 to go. It did not last long however, Downing moved to the front and the pace increased. Marking her closely was Berry. 

Michelle King (Avanti) attacked with Hannah Bush (SHP) but the pair could not get any distance and were held by Berry and Downing. Monique Hanley attacked at 4 to go but again the bunch would not let her go. With 2 laps to go, Downing attacked on the back straight, Berry followed her with Ester Pugh-Uren (Bendigo CC) on her wheel. Downing looked like she had gone too soon, as Berry gained ground, but her strength showed and she held the line all the way to the finish. Berry was second and Pugh-Uren third.

Position Name Club
1 Tess Downing CAR
2 Jessica Berry BGO
3 Ester Pugh-Uren BGO
4 Monique Hanley WGL
5 Tahlia Clayton ARA

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Handicap Race

Emma Waldron decided she was not going to wait around in the first 100m of the Handicap race. With Downing and Berry chasing hard from the scratch and 20m markers, she quickly passed McIntosh, Bush and Hammond in front of her. The rest of the field quickly bunched and Berry made touch with three to go. She moved herself round, in an attempt to get a better position but was thwarted by a number of riders not holding there line. By the point there two laps to go, Downing had made touch and she too tried to move round. Azian Alias (Malaysia) moved off her line and Downing had to slow. At the bell it was Uracca Leow (Malaysia) who moved to the front, Nicole Holt looked strong on her wheel. In the last 20m, third place looked like it was going to Hannah Bush but the other Malaysian rider, Alias, allowed Monique Hanley to snatch third as she moved up the track and slowed.

Position Name Club Riding Off (Handicap*)
1 Uracca Leow MAS 85m
2 Nicole Holt CAR 80m
3 Monique Hanley WGL 35m

*Riders start on their given 'mark' on the 250m track. The lower the mark they ride from, the closer to scratch (0m) they are starting from

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Rider's Comments

Tess Downing was pleased with her win, ďI knew I had two laps to go and I went earlier than I normally would. Itís always good to try something different, I was 4th or 5th wheel back and I knew that trying to get round Jess [Berry] would be hard and I wanted to lead out myself. Going down the back straight I though she, [Berry] might catch me but I held the red line and knew in the final 50m that I had it

Michelle King had a successful year in 2006, competing and medalling at the World Masters Track in Manchester. Asked how she felt about being back on the Velodrome in Melbourne she said ďItís great. Iíve had about a month off from training, this event starts my preparation for Nationals and then on to the World Masters in October. I plan to win this year, I know exactly what I have to do and I am really focused. Getting beaten was good for me last year, I didnít like it much, but I am going much quicker this year

Uracca Leow is part of a development squad working under the direction of John Beasley. She spoke to WNC after winning the handicap race. ďMy legs donít feel good, but it was good to win. I havenít done much work on the track for a month or so.Ē Asked how the relationship with John Beasley was working for the Malaysian team she added, ďI am seeing huge improvement in my racing, everyone who is under his programme is improving. ď

I prefer the track to road racing; I am able to be more consistent, the road has hills, corners and wind so I definitely prefer the track.

Talking about future plans, she added, ďI want to go to the Olympics, so I have a lot of work to do on the track. We are travelling a lot between Malaysia and Australia, itís tiring but we are use to the travelling now. I can see huge improvement so it feels good.Ē 

Nicole Holt had mixed results in the two events, coming last in the first and second in the last. Asked what happened she explained. ďI have been taken off my asthma medication so that my doctor can complete some tests; I think this is affecting my performance. I just didnít have the legs in the scratch race.Ē Coming second in the handicap race, Nicole chatted about the turn around. ďI was in the right place at the right time.Ē

 Monique Hanley crept into third place, due to the Malaysian swinging up just before the line. 

Asked how she felt about the race she said, ďIt was a bit crazy with riders switching all the time. It made it difficult, particularly there was a change of pace, I had the legs to follow the change in pace, but no space to go into, it was a bit frustrating

Hanley made the Victorian state team this year, in her second season of racing and placed well at the Nationals. Asked if she plans to focus on the track, or the road, (which she will compete in the World Cup event in Geelong next week) Hanley added, ďI would like to focus on the track but I had the opportunity to race next week and didnít think I should miss it. I know I canít do everything to be good overall, so I think I need to focus on one discipline, but itís hard. You have to be an exceptional rider to be able to do it in both and it takes time to get there. Riders have done it though, Judith Arndt, Kate Bates, Nicole Cooke and in the menís, a number of them started on the track. Events like tonight are great, but also difficult, you want to support them but you only get 18 laps of racing. It makes it hard to get more women to ride. My club, Blackburn is trying to get more women to ride and compete at these events. We are looking at starting a Ďgrass rootsí programme to get women to race, hopefully this will work.Ē


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