Cycling: All-rounder Keith impresses in 1500m feature race

Alysha Keith
Alysha Keith
There were 16 starters on the track but Alysha Keith made it a one-horse race when she won the feature event at the Seddon Park velodrome on Saturday.

Heats decided the top 16 to contest the 1500m race and they set off in six groups.

Keith, in the third group, started conservatively by drafting behind fellow markers, but with three laps to go she threw caution to the wind, launching her attack.

With a lap and a-half to go, it seemed certain Keith would not be beaten. However, Brad Evans made a valiant attempt to ride Keith down with Nick Kergazou hot on his heels. This was a crowd-pleaser but Evans eventually had to settle for second.

Keith made her mark at the national track championships in February last year. In the individual pursuit, she broke the New Zealand record, which was bettered shortly afterwards, but took silver. She won gold in the omnium, silver in the 500m time trial and bronze in the points race to catapult her into the national junior squad.

Success followed at the world junior championships, with silver in the team pursuit. At the Oceania Games, she was part of the New Zealand elite pursuit team that gained silver, and she picked up silver in the points race. A good all-rounder, Keith now looks forward to the national omnium championships in Invercargill in two weeks.

The junior title on Saturday was secured by 15-year-old Lachie McGregor, who had earlier won the scratch and elimination races.

McGregor is another talented junior who is in the New Zealand under-17 development squad. Later in the evening he raced the Benero Cup points race with the senior men and was a meritorious fourth, the majority of the field not handling the hot pace.

Brad Evans dominated category 1 by winning the scratch, elimination, keirin and points races. In doing so, he picked up the coveted Benero Cup for the final race of the evening, the points race.

Stu Crooks won the B grade scratch race while Kate Ward won the under-15 scratch and elimination races. Evans wrapped up a huge weekend of racing by winning the 50km, eight-lap Todd Memorial race on the Wingatui circuit yesterday.

A large category 1 field of 18 ensured it was going to be difficult for anyone to break away. However, with features such as corners, undulating terrain, railway crossings and a head wind in some directions, there were some attempts. Crooks and Geoff Keogh were the first duo to chance their arm, being swallowed up after a lap. The next threat came from Evans, Tim Chapman and 16-year-old Keegan Girdlestone, who held the bunch at bay for two laps before being chased down.

Glen Todd broke on his own on the last lap but the sprinters came through with 200m to ride, and Evans had too much speed for brothers Joe and Tim Chapman.

A large category 2 field stayed together but junior Daniel Cresswell let his legs do the talking for a close win over Wayne Evans, Paul Hoskin and Ross Gamble.

Christchurch's Phoebe McCaughan won the sprint in category 3 from Columba College pupil Anna McDonald and Jan Brosnahan. Masters rider Lorraine Stewart outsprinted Columba pupil Olivia Kennedy in category 4, with Columba teacher Julie McMahon taking third place.

There was a large turnout for the inaugural event, organised by club president Todd, in memory of his grandfather, Douglas, who was club president when he died in 1972. Glen Todd's father, also Doug, presented the trophy, revealing all three generations have served as president.

- Jan Brosnahan.