MEDIA RELEASE COURTESY OF SANTOS FESTIVAL OF CYCLING
It was South Australia’s perhaps one and only three hours to see off the Australian track team before the Tokyo Games on a night where Matt Glaetzer was just incredible.
More than a year since he last graced the Superdrome in front of his home fans after a brave battle to beat cancer in 2019, Glaetzer was at his brilliant best just three weeks into pre-season and seven months away from the Tokyo Games
All of his hard work had paid off at this stage of the season when the 28-year-old was unbeatable in his sprint discipline throughout the three exotic hours of racing.
The women’s Keirin opened the Festival of Cycling and didn’t disappoint from the off at the Gepps Cross Superdrome.
In front of 1300 fans - 50 per cent capacity because of the COVID restrictions - sprint gun Kristina Conan claimed honours in front of Breanna Hargrave and Lara Tucker.
A few minutes later Whyalla-born young sprint sensation Leigh Hoffman earned the short Keirin crown when he paced himself to perfection staying at the back of the bunch before the sound of the bell saw the strong man use his power.
Maxwell Liebeknekt came in second ahead of Carlos Carismo.
Glaetzer then faced Nathan Hart in the first heat and the two-time world champion was far too strong and raced on his terms in 10.295sec for the final 200m about 70km/h.
“I tried not to think about it and let things flow and went into the slipstream and held onto the line but the heart rate is soaring right now,’’ Glaetzer said.
“This is the base we’re going to build from and it’s exciting times.”
The first of the Endurance races for both Men and Women was an ATL-special Elimination Race, designed to warm up the crowd a little and let the riders get familiar with each other before the elims started. A 10 lap roll in was civilised in the women's race, before the eliminations came thick and fast every two laps until only 5 riders remained. Then, rather than eliminate the last 4 leaving one winner, the race was given 3 laps to finish as a bunch with Ash Ankudinoff blowing the doors off to win by several bike lengths!
“It was certainly tough, maybe only a small field but it was stacked with classy athletes,’’ Ankudinoff said.
The Men's Elim saw an early attack from Team Pursuit teammates Lucas Plapp and Alex Porter, who got half a lap out and stayed away until the prime sprint on lap 10. They quickly dropped out of the race though, leaving the rest of the Elite field to duke it out over the eliminations. Sam Welsford looked like he had it all sewn up with one to go, but Kell O'Brien came around him out of Turn 4 and pipped him at the post for the win.
To cap off a super night for SA, Alex Edmondson and Damien Howson - teammates for Australia's WorldTour team BikeExchange for the national road series stage event - nearly claimed the headlining Madison, their emphatic 20-point lap on the field coming as the bunch came around for the final bell. It wasn't to be, as the team of Sam Welsford and Kell O'Brien would storm home for second place and double points at the final, taking the win in the Mado by only 3 points.
Scratch race (para cyclists)
The all in scratch race for para cyclists was 16 laps and 4km and preface favourite Darren Hicks didn’t disappoint.
Hicks claimed a brilliant victory ahead of Daniel van der Laan and his coach Loz Shaw.
Brownwyn Dolman earned a credible fourth ahead of aggressive pacesetters Meg Lemon and Paige Greco.
Tandem team sprint (para tandem)
A race for the vision impaired with a pilot on a tandem bike was breathtaking to say the least.
Eight riders, four bikes and double the power.
Steven Kemp and Candice Kennedy took out the prize in under 54.7 secs for the two lap sprint finish.
Italian pursuit - men
Wil Homes claimed the first event which is very similar to the team pursuit but the lead rider does not rejoin the back of the line.
The first rider leads for one lap then swings off until only one rider remains to sprint it out for the victory.
Paracycling Italian Pursuit
Daniel van der Laan had strong teammates on the back straight to take the win over a charging Darren Hicks on the final lap of this race where riders were seeded and would ride one lap each on the front.
Chase race - junior women
Teenager Kaylee Dunn the only non South Australian claimed victory ahead of Matilda Angel in a thriller for the young stars of the future.
Sprint derby round one (men and women)
Leigh Hoffman and Maxwell Liebeknekt were the first to fight for the right to take on the friendly sprint giant Matt Glaetzer in a premeditated final.
Hoffman prevailed for the win.
Carlos Carismo, Jarrah Anderson and Dylan Stanton were next on centre stage and during a stand - Stanton kissed the boards to force a restart.
Carismo won and faced Hoffman in the race to face Glaetzer in the final.
Sprint derby round one (elite women)
Kristina Clonan failed to shut the door in the final sprint and Lara Tucker claimed the prize.
Breanna Hargrave had enough gas left in the tank to claim the second derby win over Elia Sibley and Lily Stratford.
“It’s an honour to be among the likes of Anna Meares and Lara and it’s great to be racing,’’ Clonan said.
Tandem sprint (tandem men)
Beau Wootten claimed the men’s event.
Scratch race women - 30 laps
Ash Ankudinoff was favoured to claim the race from the off and she was made to work hard early.
With three laps remaining Annette Edmondson had Ankudinoff’s wheel before she found herself at the front.
Tasmanian Georgia Baker took on Annette Edmondson who in the end was far too good when she displayed her sprinting capabilities to a crowd that were on their toes for the grand finale.
“The girls are in some good form and I chucked on a bigger gear and I had to be patient,’’ Annette Edmondson said.
"Luckily the Santos Tour Down Under and Events SA have made this possible.”
Scratch race men - 30 laps
Alex Edmondson was keen to get back on the boards after his last serious appearance on the track was winning a medal at the Rio Games five years ago.
The UCI WorldTour gun for Australia’s BikeExchange had teammate Damien Howson for company but it was Tokyo Games-bound South Australian track star Alex Porter who issued the early challenge.
Edmondson took a commanding lead three laps before the finish.
But with a lap to go, strongman Sam Welsford took out the victory in a fairy tale finish for the birthday boy.
“It was cool to get a win on the birthday but the BikeExchange boys made it difficult,’’ Welsford said.
“There are heaps of really good numbers here and we’d be really hot for the (NRS stage) tour.”
Sprint derby round 2 (men)
Leigh Hoffman and Carlos Carisimo faced off for the right to meet Matt Glaetzer in the headlining event in a brilliant track night which delighted the exclusive crowd.
Hoffman and Carisimo played out their game of cat and mouse.
Hoffman held out.
Glaetzer and Hart faced off again in a second heat but the favourite won again.
Less than 30 minutes later Leigh Hoffman and Glaetzer met in a heat.
In a breathtaking battle Glaetzer’s incredible strength just pipped Hoffman who acknowledged his rival’s prowess.
Sprint derby round 2 (women)
Breanna Hargrave and Kristina Clonan faced off.
Hargrave tried to turn it into a long sprint but Clonan claimed a second win.
Lara Tucker, Ella Sibley and Lily Stratford faced off in the other heat.
Sibley was just sensational in a photo finish.
ELITE WOMEN Points Race - 50 LAPS
Annette Edmondson shone on her home track in a blockbuster early having Australian track teammate Maeve Plouffe for good company.
Georgia Baker however moved quickly to head the race with 10 points with just four laps before the finish.
Alex Manly claimed the final sprint and the victory after an incredible finale.
The rest of the Santos Festival of Cycling program can be found HERE