Cliffhanger opening day at Six Day Brisbane
12 April 2019
Opening night at Six Day Brisbane was a white-knuckle ride where inches mattered, leaders were reeled in and advantages kept slim.
Leigh Howard and Kelland O’Brien slid seven points ahead of Yoeri Havik and Wim Stroetinga in the elite men, the two pairs on the lead lap.
Just two points separated sprint frontrunners Pat Constable and Ethan Mitchell and while Katie Archibald took the UCI omnium, the Scot’s overall lead is a mere eight points.
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Aussie aces Howard and O’Brien, with six Track World Championship golds between them, are the reigning Six Day kings down under after claiming overall victory in Melbourne.
The pair were at their sizzling best in the 500m Madison Time Trial, Howard clocking 25.673s which was well over a second faster than all but Sam Welsford and Cam Scott.
But they endured a gruelling final Madison Chase, won by Poles Wojciech Pszczolarski and Daniel Staniszewski, and were pipped to the post in the team elimination.
“That was probably one of the hardest nights I’ve ever done – but a bit of food, a bit of sleep, wake up tomorrow and do it all again,” said O’Brien.
Howard added: “We’ve had a pretty successful night, we won the Madison TT and we’ve been very consistent across the rest of the night.
“We’re setting a high standard. This is the final of the Six Day series, so you can’t expect anything less than the best.”
It was all about Archibald in the elite women as she revelled in the role of omnium party-pooper in a field packed with home heroes.
The Six Day Manchester victor couldn’t overhaul double world champion Ashlee Ankudinoff in the opening scratch but utterly dominated the tempo and elimination races.
Archibald scooped crucial UCI ranking points, the first omnium of the current cycle, with her closest overall challenger Tasmanian Amy Cure, double Commonwealth champion.
And the sprinters field looks wide open, with Kiwi Mitchell edging out Constable in the sprint final but the Australian clinging onto a narrow day-one advantage.
Constable, Commonwealth bronze medallist on the Gold Coast last year, registered 10.101s to claim time trial victory while star turn Shane Perkins claimed the keirin.