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Sanders creates history with Austral win

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Ben Sanders (l) and his father Dave, head of the cycling program at the Victorian Institute of Sport.

Ben Sanders (l) and his father Dave, head of the cycling program at the Victorian Institute of Sport. (Image credit: Jump Media)
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Young Victorian Ben Sanders wins the Austral Wheelrace in Melbourne.

Young Victorian Ben Sanders wins the Austral Wheelrace in Melbourne. (Image credit: Jump Media)

Ben Sanders has written his name into the history books, joining his father Dave as a winner of the Urban Austral Wheelrace - Australia's oldest and most prestigious track cycling race.

Sanders started the final as second favourite to take the title and riding off 80m in the handicap event was in front at the bell, holding off the challenge from defending champion Shane Perkins, who finished out of the placings. Darren Rodgers (130m) finished second ahead of Jaron Gardiner (125m) in third.

In what was billed as one of the strongest Austral fields in history, the heats and subsequent repecharges witnessed a number of the fancied riders eliminated, including American Olympian Giddeon Massie, world points race champion Cameron Meyer, dual Olympic gold medallist Graeme Brown and under 23 time trial world champion Jack Bobridge.

The race will be remembered for the emotional embrace of father and son however, the first such duo to win the Austral in the 112 editions of the event.

Dave Sanders, a key figure in Australian cycling as head coach of the Victorian Institute of Sport cycling program and a mentor to superstars such as world champion Cadel Evans and grand tour stage winner Simon Gerrans, won this race off a handicap of 50m in 1978.

His 19-year-old son Ben, himself a junior world championships silver medallist and Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holder, now has his name on a trophy the family regards as more important than any other on the domestic cycling scene.

"It's bigger than the national champs, or any other race in Australia. For old school cycling people this is huge," said the older Sanders, fighting back tears after the win.

"This is bigger than the national championships, or anything else, this is history, a lifetime experience."

For his son Ben, the weight of expectations after three years of attempts was obvious. "You couldn't get much happier than me right now. This race is just the biggest thing," he said.

Asked if the family name was a chain around his neck, Sanders Jnr responded: "It has for the last two or three years I've ridden this, and I haven't even made the final. When they said I was the [second] favourite just before it I thought, 'Oh, the omen's back', because every time my name was mentioned for it I couldn't perform. But everything came together on the day."


Urban St Kilda Austral Wheelrace
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Ben Sanders (VIS)
2Darren Rodgers
3Jaron Gardiner

Shape Group points race
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Transitions)
2Graeme Brown (Rabobank)
3Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Transitions)

Clipsal women's keirin
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Anna Meares (AIS)
2Kaarle McCulloch (AIS)
3Annette Edmonson (SASI)

Brennan IT sprint
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Josiah Ng (Malaysia)
2Jason Niblett (AIS)

Urban St Kilda motorpace final
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Scott Law (NSWIS)
2Michael Freiberg (WAIS)
3Peter Loft (TIS) in third.

SRAM Madison battle
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1New Zealand (Scully, Archbold, Godfrey and Simpson)
2Australia (Brown, Meyer, O'Shea and Bobridge)

2XU women's sprint final
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Anna Meares (AIS)
2Kaarle McCulloch (AIS)

Quickform Homes points score elimination
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Transitions)

Brennan IT men's keirin final
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Azizal Awang (Malaysia)
2Josiah Ng (Malaysia)
3Scott Sunderland (AIS)

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