The Australian track cycling championships are once again being held in Adelaide, South Australia this year. With less than 1 week to go until the championships (which includes both open and U/19(junior) categories) teams are on their way from all across Australia. Most teams are arriving on Thursday or Friday so they can get some good practise on the indoor, boarded track. The track (which was opened in 1993 for the track world cup) has a maximum of 43 degrees banking and is 250m long. Teams from all 5 states and 2 territories will compete in the week long event contested at the stunning Adelaide SuperDrome.
Australia in the past years has been one of, if not the strongest country on the track at junior world championships and the new contingent of riders is said to be just as strong, if not stronger. With almost half of the Australian team who rode at the world championships in 2005 being first years, the talent in Australia is still very hot. Riders such as Scott Sunderland (Western Australia), who won a bronze in both the Kilo and team sprint and a 4th in the sprint at the championships in Austria, will be one of the top contenders for the national title. He will have strong competition from Danny Ellis (ACT), who also won a bronze at the world titles and Victorian young gun Leigh Howard. Howard won 8 Australian titles last year as an U17 and broke several Australian records set by great Australian riders such as Shane Kelly and Ben Kersten. Howard has stepped up to the U19 level and has proved he has the speed to match the best, winning Australia’s biggest wheel races. Howard won the Melbourne cup on wheels (coming around Olympic champion Ryan Bayley) and also the Sydney 1000 (coming around World Cup champion Ben Kersten).
Other stands out riders are the Meyer brothers (Western Australia). Cameron is a second year and scored two medals at the world championships last year (in the Madison and team pursuit) and his younger brother Travis is a first year. Both riders have set world standard times at their state championships in the Pursuit, with younger brother pipping Cameron with times of 3:23 and 3:24 respectively. Leigh Howard is also a chance for the title riding a 3:27, showing his versatility as a sprinter and pursuiter. Other contenders for the title are Mathew Petit (NSW) who rode into third place at the junior world championships in the team pursuit and Jack Bobridge (SA) who has been pulling out some excellent times in training. Who ever the winner, there should definitely be some fast times and some exciting racing.
The teams pursuit is always and incredibly high class event in Australia. With NSW and Victoria being the main two teams normally fighting out for the gold medal. This year things may just change. Western Australia will have an incredibly strong team with the Meyer brothers leading the charge in the 4km event. Victoria will have the power of Leigh Howard, but many are asking if the team can be ridden by just one rider. The teams pursuit is normally known by being just as strong as your weakest rider. NSW will again have a strong team with their 4 riders all going under 3:34. One team that is coming up is South Australia. With some strong riders this team could pull off a ride that could upset the best.
The national track championships start on Monday and continue until Friday. These championships are the main selection race for the junior world’s team so riders will be giving their all to impress the selectors. These will be championships not to forget!