Last week, The International Track Series (ITS) Melbourne event ran over five days at Melbourne’s Darebin International Sports Center. Rather than a five day event, the ITS is actually three seperate events rolled up into one. The Melbourne Grand Prix ran over the first two days, The Tasman Cup for the Junior 19 riders ran on the Friday whilst the DISC Grand Prix ran over the Saturday and Sunday. To top it off, the Saturday night included the 80th running of the famous Melbourne Cup on Wheels. It was a brilliant 5 days of racing.
My workspace for the week. During the week I was responsible for the timing and results. Working with the race secretary (Bill Clinch – closest in this photo, and Simon Gwynn – next to Bill) we handled all of the electronic timing for the event. It was an intense week but I did manage to snap a few photos.
The Chinese Look L96 bikes look amazing with the Chinese flag motif. The colours are so striking that the bikes are hard to miss. They have opted to run with the integrated Look crankset over a power meter of some sort.
The Japense bikes on the other hand are simple and elegant. Unlike the Chinese, the Japanese are running Dura-Ace cranks coupled with an SRM power meter. That Araya disc wheel sure does look like a Mavic Comete.
Although there were only a handful of Elite kiwis, the New Zealand National Team sent a full contingent of Juniors. That’s World Junior Scratch and Omnium Campbell Stewart getting ready for the first scratch race of the series. This guy has a turn of speed that is next level. You need to see it to believe it.
The queue for the bike check seemed to be constant. As a category 1 UCI event, each bike was required to be checked before every race. It’s an onerous task but one which needs to be done. Better here than at the World Championships or Olympics. There were more than a few riders who were told to go away and fix their bikes. The main issue experienced was that bikes were under the 6.8kg weight limit.
Shane Perkins was one of only two riders over the whole series to ride under 10 seconds for the Flying 200m. As the home crowd favourite, everyone was feeling excited to see Perko racing back in Melbourne again.
Meanwhile, in the women’s qualifier Hong Kong’s Wai Sze Lee set the second fastest time (10.934 seconds) behind Australia’s Stephanie Morton. Although Lee is small in Stature, her power demonstrated throughout the competition was nothing short of incredible.
Former World Junior Sprint Champion Courtney Field was all smiles before the start. She was looking great in the qualifier with the fastest time of all of the non-national team riders. Unfortunately, she was a victim to a heavy fall on Day 1 and was unable to continue through to the end. Field is just a first year elite rider so I have the feeling that she is going to be one to watch in the next Olympic cycle.
Event Anna Meares was out there supporting her team mates in the qualifier.
After qualifying second fastest to Glaetzer, Perkins was looking comfortable in the warmup. Despite being one of the world’s very best, Perko seemed happy to be back at his home track.
Disc wheels, disc wheels, disc wheels. A small glimpse of just some of the Japanese team’s arsenal of equipment.
During the Melbourne GP, the Scratch race in the Elite Women’s Omnium was hard fought. With one lap to go, Mei-Yu Hsiao (64 – Chinese Taipei), Sakura Tsukagoshi (56 – Japan) and Yao Pang (47 – Hong Kong) were neck and neck. It was aggressive racing.
Yao Pang (47 – Hong Kong) rode well during the Women’s Individual Pursuit to take first place and full points towards the Melbourne GP Omnium. She would go on to claim fourth place overall.
Ireland’s Shannon McCurley warming up before the Elite Women’s Keirin final. That’s her new BT Ultra which I’ll be covering next week. It’s an incredible machine and it’s the same one she’ll be riding at the Rio Olympics.
And they’re off! The Elite Women’s Keirin final. Here Fatehah Mustapa from Malaysia is chasing down her position near the front of the line. Mustapa is on her way to the Rio Olympics where she will be competing in the Keirin. Along with the other Malaysians, she’s coached by Melbourne’s John Beasley and based at DISC.
It was fantastic to see Anna Meares racing here at my home velodrome. She’s so quick and her presence is huge. It was like watching lightning.
Lee and Meares were in a class of their own during the Keirin at the Melbourne GP. Watching the two of them fight for the top step was just sensational. Although Lee got the win in the end, the power and speed of both riders was simply incredible.
At the Tasman Cup, the Junior 19s had a day of competition to themselves. I was pumped to watch the Aussies compete against the Kiwis. Given that both teams are gold medal contenders, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a premonition of next month’s Junior World Championships in Switzerland. The Aussies came out on top but I don’t think they are complacent and they know that they will need to keep working if they are to stand a chance of taking the top step next month.
Dave “Mr Pink” Morgan was enjoying himself down in the infield. Dave is probably one of Victoria’s (Austrlaia’s) most recognisable faces on the racing scene. He’s a huge supporter and he generously donates untold amounts of time to supporting and running racing on both the track and road.
I love bikes! Especially race bikes!
International competitions are always interesting places as they bring together numerous cultures from around the world into a small enclosed space. Here the Chinese team set up a huge feast of what looked like traditional food – noodles, vegetables, and tea. I secretly wanted to join them.
The infield was busy and there was a lot going on. Ordinarily DISC is quite boring as a race venue however when the Bowling Carpet is covered the venue is transformed. It really comes to life at these big events. With my move to Finland next month, I was pleased to be involved with this event as a last hurrah.
After three days of racing, the Saturday night was time for the 80th Melbourne Cup on Wheels. In this picture, Hayden DiCocco Grant and Godfrey Slattery were looking relaxed and ready before taking their positions before the Melbourne Cup on Wheels final. Both of them are off to Switzerland next month to represent Australia at the Junior World Track Championships.
Looking at the start list of the final, the race looked more like a scratch race than a handicap. With just one front marker and a handful of middle markers, the advantage was clearly with the back markers.
Neale Adams was the sole front marker during the final which made for exciting racing. The crowd was so excited for him as at the half way point it looked like he would win it. For me, watching Adams going for it was one of the highlights of the week.
Adams’ win wasn’t to be so. With two laps to go, Adams was caught and swamped by the chasing hounds. It was fantastic to watch. Given that Adams is a Masters 5 racer and he was riding alone, he put in a fantastic effort.
Off the 85 meter mark, Bendigo’s Issac Buckell was well positioned throughout the race.
It just came together for Buckell and even Slattery couldn’t come over him in the final sprint. He just rolled the dice and went for it. His win was a fantastic result in the 80th running of the event.
Race wheels anyone? There’s probably $30,000 (AUD) worth of wheels right there. Track bikes are simple but the costs of the top equipment can be high. This is just one rack of many down on the infield.
In the Elite Women’s Sprint Quarter-Final, Kaarle McCulloch (left) was victorious over Caitlin Ward. This saw her progress into the Semi-Final. From Victoria, Ward is the latest addition to the Australian national team and she is now based in Adelaide where she trains with the squad.
Matt Glaetzer rolling his legs and keeping warm in between sprint rounds. The sprinters warm up at low intensity for at least an hour or more. Gently turning their legs over, getting the blood flowing and slowly warming their muscles up whilst placing minimal aerobic stress on their bodies.
It’s hard to appreciate just how big the top sprinters are. They are huge!
During the DISC GP, the final dual for gold between Pat Constable and Matthew Glaetzer was sensational. Watching these two play their game of cat & mouse was so exciting.
The speed was phenomenal. Glaetzer was just too strong and he took the win easily this time. However, Constable is another one to watch during the next Olympic cycle. He is a formerJunior World Champion (Team Sprint – 2013) and earlier this year he won his first World Cup. Yep, he’s quick.
With Meares now through to the sprint bronze final, the pressure was on to win a podium spot. I watched her in the lead up to the race and her focus was clear. She wanted this win.
Not to take anything away from the Morton – vs – Lee 1-2 final (which was excellent), I was keen to see how this 3-4 final would pan out. With McCulloch not yet guaranteed a spot for Rio, this was her chance to to shine against Meares who is one of the world’s best.
The seriousness of this race is clear. I noticed that Sean Eadie, Kaarle McCulloch’s coach (right), was giving Meare’s the stare of death as he tried to psych her out. I figure it wouldn’t have worked on Meares.
Gary West, the head coach of the Australian national Sprint program, carefully watches Meares in her battle against McCulloch. As a coach he is world renowned having achieved numerous World level coaching successes including Olympic Gold. An accomplished rider in his own right, West competed at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics (for Australia) in the points race and was an alternate on the gold medal-winning team pursuit squad.
Best of three! With one win to both Meares and McCulloch it came down to the final race of the final. McCulloch was just too strong on this occasion and the win was hers and the podium spot was hers. It’s not everyday you get to watch these two stars of the track going head to head like this.
Giants of the track. The Men’s Sprint Podium at the DISC Grand Prix. Australian’s Pat Constable and Matt Glaetzer (1st) and New Zealand’s Matthew Archibald.
Lee was sensational throughout the series and she took the clean sweep of all four sprint competitions. At the last Olympic Games in London 2012 Lee was the Bronze Medalist in the Keirin and she was the World 500m Time Trial Champion in 2013. She’s a class rider and based on her form at the ITS, she must be a true favourite for Rio.