Geelong cyclist Leigh Howard has capped another stellar year by taking out the Victorian Cyclist of the Year award, presented at The Australian Club in Melbourne on Friday night. In front of almost 200 guests, CycleSport Victoria gave out the prizes in the respective categories.
Unable to accept the award in person due to Australian team commitments in a track training camp in France, Howard's mother Kim was on hand to accept his trophies, with a live video message also being broadcast to the crowd.
In the 2007 Road season, Howard's consistency was second to none. He picked up stage wins and podium placings in the Tour of Tasmania, plus podium placings in the Tour of Murray River.
In the 07/08 Track Season, Howard was unstoppable. His list of achievements includes gold medals in the Australian Scratch Race, Australian Teams Pursuit, Australian Madison Championships, Victorian Pursuit Championship, Victorian Points Race Championship, Victorian Omnium Championships, Victorian Madison Championships, Bendigo Madison and Melbourne Cup on Wheels. He also won silver in the individual pursuit at the Australian championships.
Female track cyclist of the year
For the third straight year, Tess Downing (Carnegie Caulfield CC) claimed the honours in the 07/08 Female Track Cyclist of the Year award. Downing won gold in the Victorian Scratch, Individual Pursuit and Points Race Championships, in addition to the Sid Patterson Grand Prix Women's Handicap. She also picked up silver in the Australian Individual Pursuit and Australian Points Championships, plus bronze in the Australian Teams Pursuit.
Female road cyclist of the year
Australian road time trial Champion Bridie O'Donnell claimed the Female Road Cyclist of the Year award after a brief, but dominating road season. The former rower and triathlete, who has completed the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon in under 11 hours, won the Australian time trial championships in Ballarat in addition to the Victorian time trial and road championships. The 33 year-old now heads to Italy as part of the Australian road team.
Club of the year
Currently Cycling Australia's largest affiliated cycling club, the Carnegie Caulfield CC took out the Club of the Year award.
Their development program is the envy of clubs around the country, as it possesses a full program of 65 junior cyclists, aged 8 - 15, training twice weekly all year round. They use the facilities at Packer Park velodrome whilst maintaining a fleet of more than 30 track bikes and wind trainers to enable families to experience the junior development program at minimal cost.
They operate a track program for senior riders at DISC under the tutelage of Hilton Clarke, which caters for riders of every level of fitness and experience, with Novice Clinics at Glenvale to teach young riders how to race safely and successfully.
They host 45 Tuesday twilight & Sunday morning criteriums, with fields close to 200 and promotes the Phillip Island Cycling Grand Prix teams race in addition to being a strong supporter of track racing, hosting a Track Open and weekly club racing.
Junior cyclist of the year
15 year-old LaTrobe Valley cyclist Shannon McCurley took out the Junior Cyclist of the Year award.
Her performance at the 2007 Australian Junior Road Championships where she won gold in the W17 criterium and three bronze medals in the W17 time trial, road race and pairs time trial sealed her win.
She also was dominating at the 2007 Victorian junior road championships, where she claimed three gold medals in the W17 time trial, W17 road race and W17 criterium. Also, at the 2006/07 Victorian junior track championships she won silver in the W17 2000m individual pursuit and two bronze medals in W17 time trial and points race.
Club-promoted event of the year
The Midlands Tour took out the Club Promoted Event of the Year, following a great display in all aspects of event management.
It featured full rolling road closure, interstate teams participation, one of the best courses on the calendar, with the level of support provided to riders second to none and the feedback from riders overwhelmingly positive.
It was run by a passionate team of organisers under the leadership of Vito Depetro and Mark Zanatta.
Volunteer of the year
A tireless volunteer, David James (Blackburn CC) assisted CycleSport Victoria wherever he could in 2007/08 by attending junior development camps, delivering school development programs across Melbourne and also at DISC throughout, assisting at the 2007 Victorian schools cycling championships.
He is currently conducting an eight-week school program at DISC on Wednesday mornings and is also a leader in the development of women and provided coaching at Women's Development Series in September of 2007.
Official of the year
Known as the 'Nomad of cycling officials', Graham Bull, the Ararat & District CC, officiated at no less than 35 open events, road and track, in the past two seasons, in addition to club events. He is very approachable and well respected by all in the Victorian cycling community.
Always open to new forms of technology, he applied to officiate at all events conducted by all promoters and genuinely has the best interests of cycling at heart.