Before confirming it was the last sprint event of his career, Ben Kersten, 24, has claimed his second Gold medal at the Australian Track Cycling Championships by winning the sprint crown to add to his kilometre time trial victory. Kersten defeated reigning American champion Christian Stahl - participating at the Championships as an 'out-of-competition' rider - and admitted he was probably driven by the knowledge he would never contest the sprint again.
"It's pretty damned special to me... That was my last sprint," Kersten said. "I'm going endurance. After the World Championships I will start training on the road and put my hand up for the teams pursuit."
Kersten's decision to switch to track endurance comes after the UCI dumped the 1km time trial from the Olympic program. "It's one of those freak things - subconsciously, it's your last one," said Kersten after his first Championship sprint win since he was in the U17 ranks. "I didn't do anything differently, I haven't done any short training at all. I don't know where it came from."
In the final for the Bronze, dual Athens Olympic Gold medallist Ryan Bayley, 23, left the fastest qualifier, Michael Blatchford of the USA, reeling in his wake in a second heat performance reminiscent of his 2004 flare. Bayley was fired up after going down to Kersten in the semi-final, and made sure he used the disappointment to his advantage when he lined up against Stahl. He pipped him in the first heat and won by a massive margin in the second to claim the Bronze medal.
"I made every mistake in the book racing against Benny (Kersten) and that switched me on to race the American - I made no mistake in that," said Bayley. "The head isn't switched on, but this has helped me to switch on and realise where I'm going wrong.
"Benny (Kersten) is always impressive, he's a fast bike rider. He made us all look silly," he continued. "Tactically, I know he had confidence, whereas I knew I had none - I had motivation, I wanted to go onto the track and kick everyone's arse, but the confidence wasn't quite there."
New South Wales celebrated another victory when individual pursuit silver medallist and recently crowned road race Australian Champion, Kate Bates, won the 10 kilometre scratch race in a dominant display. Bates launched her attack in the latter half of the 40 lap race and no-one could counter. Powering solo a half lap ahead of her rival, Bates maintained the lead until to the end with the rest left to battle it out for the minor placings. In an aggressive final sprint for Silver, Victorian Jessica Berry surged to the line with Tasmanian Belinda Goss claiming Bronze.
Queensland continued their unbeaten run in the women's teams sprint taking the title for the fifth straight year, but this time with Kerrie Meares and up and comer Chloe Macpherson teaming up for Gold. They defeated the NSW pair of Elizabeth Georgouras and Kaarle McCulloch while the race for Bronze between Western Australian and South Australia was won by WA duo Kristine Bayley and Sophie Cape.
Earlier in the day, Athens Olympic sprint silver medallist, Anna Meares, posted the fastest qualifying time (11.656sec) for the flying 200m to secure top seeding in the sprint, with American Jenny Reed (11.711) second fastest and dual Manchester Commonwealth Games, Kerrie Meares third fastest in 11.737. Kristine Bayley of WA, who on Monday claimed the 500m time trial title, rode the fourth fastest time of 11.879sec. The women's sprint finals take place on Thursday, February 9.
Also see: Day 3 - Full results, report and photos
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