The 118th edition of the Austral Wheelrace and Madison was held at Hisense Arena, in Melbourne, on the evening of Saturday 20th of December. I’m strictly a road cyclist, race the occasional amateur club road race or criterium; however, I love watching track racing: it’s a super spectacle, contained within the bounds of the velodrome, you can see all the action from anywhere in the stands (or in the center field, if you’re lucky enough), men and women are flying at sixty or seventy kilometres per hour purely from leg power, and the crowd howls and cheers with a visceral sharing of emotion as their heroes leave nothing in the tank chasing down hundredths of seconds to beat their opponents or the clock!
The men’s madison was, without a doubt, the highlight for me, with fellow St Kilda Cycling Club rider, Kelland O’Brien taking it to the more fancied and senior riders on the track: teamed up with Matt Ross, the VIS lads smashed out a dozen laps early in the 200-lap event to put themselves a lap ahead, and into the lead. Cam Meyer and Leigh Howard, the fancied pros from the Jayco team, weren’t about to let this go down without a fight: they launched a blistering counter-attack, which saw the Jayco and VIS teams swapping top spot by just one point well into the race. Kell O’Brien’s legs paid the price for his work, however, and with cramp setting in during the closing stages of the race, it was another attack, from the Bike Exchange duo of Callum Scotson and Daniel Fitter that set up the winning move for Bike Exchange.
Kell reckoned it was only the noise from the crowd cheering him and Matt on that kept him in the race, willing himself and his legs to ‘shut up’ and push on – truly awesome for a 16 year-old!