Reigning sprint world champion Anna Meares won her sixth national sprint title in an electrifying night of racing at the 2012 Subaru Cycling Australia Track Championships at Adelaide's Super-Drome.
A lightning strike hit the velodrome early in the program frying the cables that feed information to the timing system, scoreboard and start gates but when racing resumed the sparks were flying on the track.
Canberra's Alex Bird caused the upset of the championships to win the men's sprint crown, while South Australians Jack Bobridge and Annette Edmondson collected more gold for their collection. In the women's team pursuit Josephine Tomic, Melissa Hoskins and Sarah Kent gave West Australia their fifth straight win.
Anna Meares was the fastest qualifier and breezed through to the finals where she easily accounted for Canberra's Catherine Culvenor in the semi finals.
Looking resplendent in her world champion's rainbow striped skinsuit and matching helmet that she calls her 'attitude hat', Meares then faced her team sprint world champion partner Kaarle McCulloch in the gold medal final proving too strong to take the win in two straight heats.
"I am very pleased, I (now) have 28 Australian titles, so that's one for each birthday," said Meares, whose elite national titles total 22.
"I am always quite nervous to come up against Kaarle as there's a lot of pride on the line at nationals," said Meares who also got the better of McCulloch in the team sprint. "I know how much she wants it, but I know how much I want it too."
Meares was pleased to be racing against a rider of McCulloch's calibre knowing the UCI Track World Cup round in London is only three weeks away and will also be the official London Olympic Games test event.
"As Australians we don't get a lot of competition and we have to travel halfway around the world to get it, so to have that level of competition against Kaarle, it's great," said Meares. "She is a formidable opponent and she is only young, she is going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come, that's for sure."
Meares will try for her third gold medal of the championships when she contests the keirin on Sunday, an event in which she is also the reigning world champion.
"I hoping that with each competition I can step up the level of performance a little bit and a little bit and a little bit and aim to be better than I've ever been by the time the Games come around in August," she added.
In the bronze medal ride, Victoria's Ziggy Callan, a former BMX rider, defeated Culvenor.
Canberra's Alex Bird scored the upset of the week to win the coveted men's sprint crown. First 'Birdman' eliminated fastest qualifier Matthew Glaetzer (SA) in the semi final and then took on 2010 world championship sprint silver medallist and defending Australian champion Shane Perkins in the final.
The Victorian was pipped on the line in a photo finish first heat and in the second thought he had levelled the scorecard when he sprinted to a four length lead heading into the final 200 metres. But Bird flew over the boards swooping on Perkins in the final metre to claim the gold medal.
"I am a bit beyond words at the moment," said Bird, 26. "I never thought I would ever break through to win an individual title, so this is just bloody amazing."
Bird, who claimed the sprint bronze medal in both 2009 and 2010, qualified fourth fastest behind Glaetzer, Andrew Taylor (NSW) and Perkins. He cruised through the morning's quarter finals and then tried to relax to prepare for tonight's racing.
"I went home and I tried to have a nap but my heart was pounding so fast I couldn't get to sleep," said Bird who tonight harnessed his nerves and the support of his posse of family and friends in the stands to claim the top step of the podium.
"Never did I ever think I'd beat Shane Perkins, I mean he has been the best rider in the sport In Australia for years now," said Canberra's Bird, who lives in Adelaide and is a member of the Cycling Australia / AIS High Performance Program. "In both of the heats, I didn't think I was going to get him, and then I was thinking, 'man I am going to get him'.
"I was so amazed after the semi final when I beat Matthew Glaetzer, who is one of the best young bike riders we have seen in years. I never thought I'd beat him, let alone Shane Perkins in the final.
Women's Points Race
Annette Edmondson claimed her second gold medal of the titles with an dominant performance in the women's points race.
She came into the event on the back of posting the fastest time ever ridden on Australian soil to win Friday's individual pursuit and signalled her strategy early in the 100 lap event.
She won seven of the ten sprints contested andt hat was enough to counter the attack of West Australia's Sarah Kent and Canberra's Rebecca Wiasak who lapped the field to collect 20 points each.
Heading into the final sprint Edmondson had a one point lead over Keny but stormed home to claim the five points and the win.
Her total was 38 points with Kent claiming silver on 35 points while Wiasak claimed third place with 28 points.
"I felt OK in the sprints, but Kent was just on fire and after she took that lap, and without the scoreboard working, it was really hard to tell how many points I needed to get," said Edmondson. "It was all a bit hectic, but I knew I just had to keep chipping away and get as many points as possible.
"I thought mid way through the race that I didn't feel fresh at all and thought the individual pursuit may have taken it out of me. But most of the girls tonight had to ride two team pursuits today, so I figured they'd be hurting just as much, if not more than me," said Edmondson.
Men's Scratch Race
Earlier in the night South Australia's Jack Bobridge delighted his home crowd with a sizzling performance to win the men's 15km scratch race.
The 60 lap event was marred by a nasty crash that forced officials to stop the race with one lap left on the board. A puncture saw Scott Law (NSW) lose control and crash taking West Australian Stephen Hall and Tasmania's Peter Loft with him. The medals were awarded based on the placings across the line on the bell lap.
That gave Bobridge the gold medal and was just reward for the Gawler rider who set the race alight with a solo attack that resulted him going one lap up on the field by the half way point.
West Australian Michael Freiberg tried to counter with South Australian Edward Bissaker & Law hot on his wheel but try as they might they couldn't gain back the lost lap.
2006 Commonwealth Games points race gold medalist Sean Finning had a dig inside the final ten laps and Bobridge tagged along to protect his lead. The pair were well clear of the bunch when the crash happened and Bissaker was awarded the bronze medal.
"To come back and to win last night and tonight is awesome for me," said Bobridge, who last night joined his South Australian team mates to win gold with the fastest ever team pursuit time ridden on Australian soil.
"It wasn't easy taking that lap, I hit it pretty hard to get that gap and I did nearly blow, I had to back off a bit and get going again," explained Bobridge. "I'm not 100 per cent fit at the moment, so I think it's more hunger to get back on top and to get right for the worlds (championships).
"I had really bad legs this morning, but I went out on the rollers, flushed out last night's race and did a lot of recovery this morning."
With his second gold medal of the championships in the bag, Bobridge now turns his attention to what will be a huge year for the twenty-year-old.
"Everything I do know is geared towards the first week of April in Melbourne for the Track Worlds," said Bobridge. "To win the teams pursuit with the boys and the individual pursuit, to win those, they would be my goals completed.
"My hunger is at an all time high," he added.
Women's Team Pursuit
In the women's team pursuit, West Australia claimed it's fifth consecutive title. The trio of Josephine Tomic, Melissa Hoskins and Sarah Kent clocked a tie of 3:21.618, just outside the record of 3:21.427 set by Tomic, Hoskins and Isabella King in 2011.
They caught and passed the ACT team of Allison Rice, Rebecca Wiasak and Allie McDonald on the sixth of twelve laps but rode on to complete the distance.
"We are pretty lucky we have such strength in West Australia in this event and this is always a fun event for the three of us," said Tomic who has played a role in all five of the WA team pursuit victories.
"We were trying for a sub (3:) 20 today, but with the delays it kind of set things back," said Tomic. "But we can't be upset with that time as it's the fastest we have ridden in a while, so we are pretty happy.
After claiming her fourth title, Hoskins praised her team mates.
"I love riding with these girls, it is far and away the best part of nationals, I love it. Sure the time was a bit slower than we wanted, but we can't complain with gold," said Hoskins.
The New South Wales trio of Ashlee Ankudinoff, Brie Dutton and Holly Heffernan were awarded the bronze medal based on clocking the third fastest qualifying time of 3:38. 848.
Under 19 Women's Team Pursuit
Queensland's Taylah Jennings, Alexandra O'Dea and Hayley Jones (3:31.632) defeated West Australia's Emily McRedmond, Kelsey Robson and Elissa Wundersitz in the under 19 women's gold medal final.
Under 19 Men's Keirin
In the under 19 men's keirin, Victoria's Jacob Schmid broke through for his first individual track nationals gold medal. Schmid crossed the line ahead of team mate Emerson Harwood with Canberra's Thomas Clarke in third place.
Under 19 Men's Scratch Race
Victoria made it two from two in the men's under 19 racing tonight when Evan Hull edged out Tirian McManus (NSW) on the line to in the scratch race. Dual 2011 junior world champion Caleb Ewan claimed the bronze medal.
The 2012 Subaru Cycling Australia Track National Championships are being staged from Thursday January 26 to Sunday January 29 6 at Adelaide's Super-Drome. A detailed event schedule, ticketing information, entry list and results can be found on the Cycling Australia website