World Record-Breakers Target Tassie Carnivals
Superstar track cyclist Sam Welsford and two comrades from Australia’s world record-breaking gold medal-winning teams pursuit squad at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will head South over the Christmas-New Year holidays for another assault on the lucrative Fulton Hogan Tasmanian Christmas Carnival Series.
The amazing West Australian Welsford, 22, will endeavour to do a Winx by winning his fourth straight Burnie Wheelrace on New Year’s Day. He will be accompanied by the young Victorian Kelland O’Brien, who resurrected memories of Danny Clark with his sensational victory in last year’s Devonport Wheelrace, and South Australian Alex Porter, a regular carnivals’ top-line performer.
Propelled by Welsford’s power, the four-man Australian line-up became the first team in cycling history to break three minutes 50 seconds for the 4000 metres pursuit at Brisbane’s Anna Meares velodrome in April. The fourth team member, Geelong’s Leigh Howard, won the 2007 Devonport Wheelrace.
The world record-holders are based in Adelaide and are members of Cycling Australia’s high performance track endurance squad coached by the 2007 Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic winner Tim Decker, a huge fan of the pressurised racing the Tassie carnivals offer cyclists of all abilities.
Decker will also send the emerging Cameron Scott to Tassie. The New South Welshman blitzed crack fields of international rivals to win all three criteriums at last year’s carnivals and annexed the Fulton Hogan Criterium Cup. He displayed his versatility in August by winning the CFMEU Rising Star award in the gruelling five-day Campolina Tour of the Great South Coast in South Australia and Victoria.
Sports Carnivals’ Association of Tasmania president Mike Gunson said today he was pleased and honoured that Decker had such strong faith in the value of the carnivals as a training ground and stepping stone for cyclists preparing for such major events as the Australian road championships, world track titles, and Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
“Tim Decker has the score on the board as a coach and the Tassie carnivals are a key component of his annual strategy,” he said.
The Decker squad, which will also include the promising Luke Plapp, Jarrod Drizners, Connor Leahy and Godfrey Slattery, will make its opening carnivals’ appearance at the Goodstone Group Westbury twilight criterium festival on Boxing Day, December 26.
They will also compete in the SeaRoad Ulverstone criterium on Sunday afternoon, December 30, and the popular West Beach Cycles Burnie crit on New Year’s Eve.
Track carnivals beckon for the mainland raiders at Launceston’s Silverdome on December 27, Latrobe (Dec 28), Devonport (Dec 29) and the Burnie extravaganza on New Year’s Day.
Mr. Gunson said the carnivals’ cycling manager John Craven had been scouring the world for several months, seeking suitable available riders to contest the carnivals.
“The carnivals have a unique format with handicap and scratch racing on the track, combined with closed-circuit road criteriums bolstered by around $100,000 prizemoney across the board for the cyclists,” he said.
“Our aim is to procure riders who can perform and entertain at the highest level.”