Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Castles thrilled with Shepparton wheelrace win

Shepparton cyclist Jay Castles was over the moon after surprising himself with victory in the men's wheelrace at Shepparton Cycling Club's Christmas Carnival on Sunday.

OLIVER CAFFREY December 31, 2013 4:15am

Shepparton’s Edward Dalle Nogare retains the upper edge on Jonathon Styles.

Local cyclist Jay Castles did not have high expectations when he entered Shepparton Cycling Club’s Christmas Carnival.

The Shepparton rider had experienced a mixed past month — winning one race, but narrowly missing out on two state titles at the Victorian Senior Track Championships, while also having a nasty fall during the same event.

However, the 17-year-old produced a stunning against-the-odds ride in the 2000m wheelrace final on Sunday night to take out the marquee event of the carnival.

The Victorian Institute of Sport rider, racing in his first A-grade men’s final, fought off a quality field to finish in front of Brunswick’s Matthias Kiernan and Moama’s Liam Harland.

Castles said he was in disbelief after his winning performance.

‘‘I’m stoked and over the moon, I never thought I’d get up to win since I’m a sprinter and all, but I hung in there and gave it my all,’’ Castles said.

‘‘All I’ve been doing recently is falling off, so to come out with a win, especially at my home club in the Shepparton wheelrace, that’s the most I could ask for.’’

Castles said he always enjoyed racing on the Shepparton track, which produced an incredibly quick final.

‘‘That’s the fastest I’ve felt going on the Shepp track in a wheelrace — we caught the front markers in just over a lap and we just kept on going and didn’t stop,’’ Castles said.

‘‘I love racing on the Shepp track at the Christmas carnival, it’s got a good atmosphere and there’s not always pressure on to go good; you just come out and give it all you’ve got and have a bit of fun.’’

Brunswick cyclist Teagan-Jane Westendorf was another surprise winner in the women’s wheelrace final.

Westendorf is competing in her first cycling season after recovering from a serious knee injury, but is setting herself for a huge year.

‘‘I’d done a couple of crits (criteriums) before, but I kind of rode off a cliff about a year-and-a-half ago and smashed my knee up and had to have a knee reconstruction,’’ Westendorf said.

Westendorf said the mild and still conditions, compared to previous events at Bendigo and Horsham, on the night made for some fast racing.

‘‘I’m so glad to be here, I thought I was going to get thrashed going into it, but I’m super happy to win,’’ she said.

‘‘I was expecting those scratchies to come screaming past us at some point, but it was pretty awesome that they didn’t get onto us.’’

In other races, Castles finished behind Irish sprint champion Eoin Mullen in the A-grade keirin, while Melbourne rider Caitlin Ward won the women’s keirin.

Beth Duryea won the women’s 5km scratch race, while Matthew Ross claimed victory in the men’s 5km scratch.

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