By Les Clarke
The Sydney Thousand track carnival gathered more momentum today with the announcement that sprint world champion Rene Wolff and countryman Mathias John will race at the Dunc Gray Velodrome on November 27. Promoter John Scott has touted the race against Olympic champion Ryan Bayley as 'the match race of the century' and on paper it's a prospect to savour.
Scott made the announcement today at the Sydney Cricket Ground, home of the original Sydney Thousand races dating back to the beginning of last century. Cycling NSW representative and NSWIS head coach Gary Sutton was also at the SCG for the announcement, believing that the Sydney Thousand "will be the biggest and best track cycling carnival in New South Wales, without a doubt. It will rival the big carnivals in Melbourne and Tasmania," he said.
German rider Wolff won his sprint crown in Los Angeles in March this year, and is sure to give Bayley a run for his money. They're similar types of riders, not afraid to contest the race at close quarters in a fast and physical style that should draw big crowds. Wolff will also have the support of Mathias John, ranked number two in German track racing - the two sure to ride as a team against a field of strong Australian riders.
Added Sutton, "You have the current Olympic and world sprint champions against each other, with quality riders such as Graeme Brown possibly racing - it's going to be big." Speaking of the possibility Olympic Madison champion Brown will be riding, Sutton said: "Graeme's got to have some minor surgery for a lower back problem, but he really wants to race in Sydney for this carnival. We'll also have Joel Leonard, who's a very capable rider - so it's a quality field."
With Kilo specialist Ben Kersten already a starter, and racing for a trifecta of wins at Australian track carnivals, he's certain to be motivated and ready to put on a good show. Veteran Shane Kelly will hit the boards also and can't be discounted as a genuine contender. Both Scott and Sutton, however, were most enthusiastic about Ryan Bayley's preparation and approach leading up to the November 27 carnival in Sydney, with Sutton saying, "He's racing in Europe right now, then goes back to a training block on his return; he should be in top form by the time this race comes around and ready to do very well."
Bayley has said on numerous occasions to "bring 'em on" after spending much of 2005 injured and out of competition, so now it looks as though he's got his wish, and with his motivation levels high and the desire for victory strong, he'll be hungry for success against the world's best. With carnivals such as this in New South Wales, track racing looks to be undergoing a much-needed revival after recent controversies have shifted attention away from the strong performances of riders.
Tickets for the Sydney Thousand meet will go on sale tomorrow, with 600 back and front straight seats released to the public. Contact Cycling NSW on their website or on (02) 9738 5850 for more details.