By John Kenny
The Sydney 1000 wheelrace will return to restored Canterbury velodrome, in Sydney on October 29 it was announced yesterday. The racing will feature Olympic Gold medalist Steve Wooldridge, Skye-Lee Armstrong, the 2005 world junior champion and Commonwealth Kilometre champion Ben Kersten, if he has recovered from a back surgery.
The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs players Mark O'Meley and Sonny Bill Williams were also at the Sydney 1000 launch, "Folkesy [Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes] is a big believer in cycling," said O'Meley. "We do a lot of cycling for training. It's a great low impact way to get fit."
The Sydney 1000 wheelrace was launched with a special handicap race involving a Penny-farthing. Wooldridge and Armstrong were the backmarkers, with Penny farthing rider Phil Dixon off limit. The other front markers - and race winners for the record - were the tandem pairing of Athens paralympic sprint champion David Short and Canterbury Bulldogs rugby league cheerleader Lauren.
Wooldridge will be one of the favourites for the wheelrace in October, "I think that it's great to have the Sydney 1000 back [at Canterbury velodrome]," said Wooldridge. "I'm happy to be involved - anything that I can do to help the sport grow I will do as the sport has been damaged on the international level [because of the Floyd Landis scandal] so we need to promote the sport in a positive way."
Canturbury velodrome has 333-metres laps, making a good viewing spectacle for a mass-participation event, "It's good for a big handicap," said Wooldridge. "[The longer laps] are better for a handicap. I've been coming here since I was a young kid to train and race and I can remember when we used to pack this place out when the big races were on."
The major structural problems of the track are being addressed thanks to an injection of funds from Canterbury council, "One side of the track was continually sinking as the track was built on a swamp," said Bates. "The money from council will underpin the affected area and stop the bank slipping. The track is also going to be cleaned to return it to it's original white."
One of the attractions of the track is it's central location according to Bates, "1.5 million people live within a one-kilometre radius of the track," he said. "It's really easy to get to by public transport as well."