City of Launceston Christmas Sports Carnival
Australia’s best track cyclist Sam Welsford joined Steve Pate as the fastest winner in the Latrobe Wheel Race’s 121-year history as he notched his third win in the race.
Welsford, who won off 60m in 2014 and scratch last year and again in this race, flew around the track with assistance from the other backmarkers to clock 3:11.27 _ an improvement of 12.65s on his heat victory.
“I’m stoked. To win this race three times is terrific, but to ride the equal fastest time in 121 years is something special,” the 21-year-old said.
Welsford, along with fellow scratch riders Nick Balouris and Kellard O’Brien, caught the out-markers so quickly that it forced them to fly past rather than tack on.
“It was a bit messy so rather than risk any dramas we just kept going straight past. That made it sprint home and once we headed to the final turn I thought I would go early. I had a look as I hit the straight and knew I had it won.
“This is a great week, and everything is going super right now,” Welsford said.
Earlier in the day Welsford won back-to-back 8000m scratch races when he flew home to emphasise his outstanding recent form.
Welsford, fourth in Boxing Day’s first of three criteriums with the same time as his teammate winner Cam Scott, worked his way through the field before sweeping to clinch victory and the $600 cheque.
He was too strong for Kelland O’Brien and a field of quality rivals.
“I’ve had a good start to the carnivals so I am happy with my form. There are so many great riders here: it is a step up from last year,” he said after being named the cyclist of the Latrobe carnival.
Another who confirmed his excellent form was NSW’s Nick Yallouris, who now lives in Adelaide to attend the SA Institute of Sport.
The 23-year-old was beaten only a half-wheel in the Ulverstone criterium on Boxing Day, but saluted in the 2000m handicap race. Starting from scratch, he entered the straight for the final time alongside Welsford and O’Brien.
“It was tough in the windy conditions and I just wanted to get on the wheel of Sam (Welsford) and fortunately I had enough sprint of edge the other two out,” he said.
Yallouris has his sights set on a spot in the team pursuit combination at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast early next year.
Tasmania’s comeback kid Lauren Perry put a horrid 18 months behind her with a landmark victory in the women’s 2000m event, collecting $3000 as the icing on the cake.
Perry, 21, has only recently returned to competitive cycling after 18 months in limbo, stricken by various viruses which led to chronic fatigue syndrome that enforced an eight-month halt to her promising career.
“It has been a slow comeback because as soon as I went a big hard I got sick again,” the Tasmanian Institute of Sport rider said.
“I still have a long way to go but I can see progress. I rode for six days in Melbourne and now I am riding seven days in Tasmania over the carnivals so I am building up nicely.”
Starting off a handicap of 80m, Perry quickly tacked onto the lead bunch, saved energy and then burst clear to withstand all challengers.
“With one lap to go I was near the front and realised I could go for it and hopefully hold them off. It was sweet,” she said.
Perry had plenty in hand to defeat Bree Hargrave (60m), with Elizabeth Nuspan (150m) in third. Fancied riders Amy Cure, Olivia Podmore and Macey Stewart failed to threaten.
Podmore, however, already was beaming after winning the 3000m women’s scratch race, beating Perry and Stewart.
The New Zealander is another on the comeback trail. She had a brutal fall at the Rio Olympics and has taken a long time recovering.
Dr Abby Chapman won her second Latrobe Gift title, with a commanding run off 4.5m holding out Amy Pedder and Laura Downey. Pedder then tasted success in the 400m final to gain the win.
“I knew I had a chance at the top three after the semi-final. It’s really nice to get my second win, but the other girls made me earn it,” Chapman said.
One of the days biggest cheers was saved for running mile, with Forth Paralympic World Record holder Deon Kenzie a popular winner.
In a remarkable sprint finish which goes against the impact of his cerebral palsy, the T38 World Champion stormed past his training partner Aaron Humphrey with both athletes tasting grass as they dipped at the line.
“Aaron Humphrey put it all on the line, we have had good rivalry at training, so it’s great to get the win,” Kenzie said.