Improvements for 2006 Sydney Thousand

The marathon 2005 Sydney Thousand track cycling carnival at Dunc Gray Olympic Velodrome held two weeks ago will be almost totally revamped before it is held again next year. Organisers have decided on a more streamlined program to replace the four hour enduro that, although successful, tested spectators' time budgets on a stormy afternoon. Some races are shorter, some are gone altogether, and others, including the Sydney Thousand, will receive a prize money boost.

The Sydney Thousand will have a total of $10,000 attached and the popular and exciting race for under 19 year-old men - which carries Ben Kersten's name - will be increased twofold to $2,000. This makes both races the richest of their kind in the world - wheelrace and under 19 scratch.

Time between events will be reduced - there will be fewer on the program - thus reducing the overall running time. In addition all scratch races have been brought back to 12 laps duration with the exception of the aces men's scratch, which will be reduced by a third to 20 laps. The masters race will be replaced by stars of the future showcasing under 13 year-old riders.

The aces will have a 15-lap elimination race and the best eight sprinters will contest an innovative skins-type sprint series - eight riders to start. The men's keirin will be reduced to straight out finals for aces and A reserves, while the women's event remains intact.

One event is to be a NSW or Australian Championship final with heats conducted prior to the day. Planning is under way to send Ben Kersten, NSWIS Athlete of the Year - inaugural recipient of the Major Taylor-SCG Trust Award for best performance by a Sydney Thousand backmarker - to travel to Worcester, Massachusetts, USA to meet with people from the Major Taylor Foundation.

An Afro-American, Taylor was the stand out rider in the first two Sydney Thousands conducted in 1903-4 at the SCG which attracted crowds of 54,000 people. He settled in Worcester after being denied access to velodromes in his home state of Indiana because of his colour.

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