German track champions at Melbourne Cup on Wheels

World Sprint cycling champion Rene Wolff of Germany, who has arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday, will meet Australian dual Olympic Gold Medallist Ryan Bayley in the best of three heats of the Match Race of the Century at Vodafone Arena for Melbourne's Cup on Wheels on Saturday, December 3. Coming back from stage one of the sprinter's competition in Sydney on Sunday, Wolff was happy to be back and even happier to see the sun shining, even if Bayley claimed top honours with a narrow third heat win over the German, who found Sydney's big wet a disruption to his training schedule.

"I thought I was in England, before coming to Melbourne and seeing bright sunlight," Wolff said incredulously at a training session yesterday. "Bayley rode really well, I grant him that, but I could have beaten him by using other tactics. I won't say how, but I will show up Saturday night at Vodafone Arena more determined and harder to beat," he added. In a bonus second sprint match, Wolff’s compatriot Matthias John will be tested by Australian Champion, Joel Leonard.

The main wheel race on Saturday is the Melbourne Cup on Wheels, an eight lap handicap, and all the talk is whether 16 year-old super kid Leigh Howard can continue on his winning way. The student stunned the cycling world in Sydney last Sunday by ending the grand slam hopes of Olympian Ben Kersten in the Sydney Thousand. In one of the most thrilling finishes in the history of the race, scratch marker Kersten got his tyre in front on the home stretch but the Victorian youngster outmuscled the Sydneysider at the line to win by just 0.008 seconds.

With the physical development of a 20 year-old, Howard is favourite for the Melbourne Cup on Wheels from a mark of 50 metres and is hoping to emulate the feat of Sid Patterson, who burst on the scene at a similar age and bagged a load of major wheel races to announce his arrival.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by CJ Farquharson/

  • Rene Wolff explains match sprinting for TV.
  • Rene Wolff and Matthius John lock horns... ahem!
  • Matthius John takes the sprint.
  • Joel Leonard listens to Jason Niblett discussing their chances - "it depends on how nice the handicapper's been," says Niblett.
  • Rene Wolff gets the VIS riders worried as he discusses tactics for Saturday's Melbourne Cup on Wheels.
  • Rene Wolff and Joel Leonard prepare for a "pitch invasion" as Mathias John and Jason Niblett sprint past.

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