Having been conspicuously absent in his last two wheel finals, rising Australia cycling star Sam Welsford hit back with a bang on Sunday to take out his second consecutive Burnie Wheel.
After his win at Latrobe, Welsford was never in the finish at Launceston and missed the final altogether at Devonport.
But with the help of four other riders from scratch, Welsford was in the hunt for back-to-back titles from the early stages of the race, and it was just a case of which quality rider had the best legs for the finish of the 3000 metre race.
Welsford won from fellow scratchman Nick Yallouris, with German rider Max Beyer in third.
Back to back: Sam Welsford celebrates his second consecutive Burnie Wheel win at West Park on Sunday. Picture: Cordell Richardson.
While the $6000 prize cheque was a nice addition to the bank balance, the Western Australian said winning the race had special meaning to him.
“This is a very special wheel race for me with the trophy named after Will Robinson,” Welsford said.
“I’m a close friend of James Robinson, his brother, and I’m stoked to go back-to-back – it means a lot to me.
“I had a very hard start to the carnivals with the criteriums – we were out the front from the first lap – and felt that fatigue over a few of the carnivals.
“But I rode my legs back into over the next few criteriums and had some good legs coming into Burnie.”
The five scratch riders quickly caught the four riders ahead of them, and with three laps to go, the field was bunched up, allowing valuable energy to be conserved.
With two laps to go the pack had dwindled to 12 riders, and by the bell, Welsford was perfectly placed in second wheel behind New Zealand’s Nick Kergozou.
“We had a lot of the scratch guys in the race, and there was a big group of about 15 in front of us that we knew we had to get around early otherwise we were going to be battling,” Welsford said.
”We started pretty quick and caught them a bit sooner than expected, but it worked out in our favour as we didn’t have to deal with trying to catch groups on the last lap.”
Sunday’s win now takes Welsford’s collection of North-West wheel race wins to four, and goes along with his win in the criterium championship that concluded on New Year’s Eve around the streets of Burnie.