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O’Brien and Howard snatch Six Day Melbourne crown after Madison drama

09 February 2019

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Kelland O’Brien and Leigh Howard found new levels of guts and power as they snatched the Six Day Melbourne title from the jaws of Sam Welsford and Cameron Scott on an incident-packed final day in the velodrome.

It brought the curtain down on a pulsating three days of action in the sporting capital of Australia, with the home fans also celebrating successes in both the women’s and sprinters competitions, Annette Edmondson and James Brister lifting their respective titles.

HOWARD AND O’BRIEN AGGRESSION PAYS OFF

O’Brien and Howard had taken the fight to their compatriots in the monster Madison Chase; Welsford and Scott having led for the previous two nights and beginning the closing evening with a dominant showing in the Madison TT.

However, the speedy O’Brien tore off from minute one in the final Madison as they gained the lap they needed immediately, before staying on the lead lap throughout afterwards and steadily racking up the points on the sprints.

With 20 minutes remaining, a collision between Welsford, New Zealander Shane Archbold and American Shane Kline left Welsford bruised and bleeding, but he manfully carried on.

And in the end, Howard streaked clear in the final sprint, with Scott third, as the former won by just two points, 254 to 252.

O’Brien said: “That was a very exciting Madison – it was pretty exciting for us! We didn’t even know what was going on, we just had to give it everything.

“It’s a shame for the other guys who had a fall, but we’re very proud of the result and we’re glad they’re OK.

“It was an unreal event, the Six Days are great, I didn’t know if I had another three days in me, to be honest. Three days was perfect.

“And the Melbourne crowd is a home crowd for us, it so special to be in front of them.”

Howard added: “It was a crazy final. We knew we were in for a tough last Madison and I think it was noticeable that we were saving energy, we took it very easy in the first part of the night.

“That was very strategic because we knew it would go down to the wire. It almost backfired – Cam and Sam picked up quite a few points in the previous race, which made the chase even harder than what it originally was.

“We were pretty spent but we got over the line by two points.”

EDMONDSON EXCELLENCE CEMENTS WOMEN’S CROWN

Annette Edmondson had too much pace and power for the rest of the field as she wrapped up a convincing women’s title.

Edmondson and Alex Manly combined superbly once more as they sealed Madison success in the opening race of the final night, eventually finishing first and second despite Welsh rider Manon Lloyd fending off a wave of Australian attacks to emerge victorious in the scratch.

Edmondson and Manly, who finished on 268 and 240 points respectively, led an all-Aussie top six, with Amy Cure, Macey Stewart, Georgia Baker and Kristina Clonan also passing 200 points, as did Lloyd in seventh.

“It was really tight racing,” said Edmondson, who will turn her attentions to the World Championships in Poland at the end of the month having won six from eight races in Melbourne.

“I’m happy with the form and I‘m looking forward to the next few weeks.”

BRILLIANT BRISTER ANNOUNCES HIMSELF ONTO THE WORLD STAGE

A lively evening of sprinting saw youngster James Brister seize his first Six Day crown after another quick display.

Undoubtedly the most consistent performer over the three days, Brister went quickest again in the time trial before losing out to Azizulhasni Awang in the head-to-heads.

However, he had enough in the bank despite this setback as he ended the competition on 141 points, 20 ahead of Shane Perkins in second.

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