Braeden Dean relishing chance to ride in front of home crowd at Tom Flood Sports Centre

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BENDIGO cycling young gun Braeden Dean says he’s determined to make the most of his rare chance to compete at home this week.

And he’s urged a strong contingent of Bendigo and District Cycling junior riders to go all out in pursuit of victory at the annual Christmas carnival at Tom Flood Sports Centre.

The two-day carnival kicked into gear on Thursday and continues on Friday.

Dean, who cycled for Australia in the opening two rounds of 2016-17 UCI Track World Cup last year, said he had fond memories of racing at Bendigo at Christmas time.

“I did the majority of the carnivals as a junior. I guess when you are in juniors you don’t have world championships, or anything like that, so it’s some of the best racing you will get in this country,” he said.

“I was 13 at my first carnival – that was in Maryborough.

“I did two nights of club racing in Bendigo and then went across to Maryborough for the country track championships. It was great experience.

“(This year) they have the under-17 men and women junior scratch championships, which are big races to win. And they’ll be important for them for national selections as well.”

Dean, who will start as one of the favourites for Friday night’s feature event – the 2000m Lindsay Harrington Memorial Wheelrace, is competing at the Tom Flood for the first time since last year’s Christmas carnival, when he won the kierin.

A busy year on the bike has included a four-week stint in the United States with a New South Wales Institute of Sport team and the Oceania Track Championships in New Zealand during November.

The 21-year-old said he was not entirely pleased with his performance in New Zealand despite several personal bests.

“I did PBs across the board but was always off the pace in the events, which was a bit frustrating,” Dean said.

“Being a Commonwealth Games year they were going pretty quick.

“Hopefully I can get some good racing in at the (Bendigo) carnival.

“I’ve done a bit of racing in Melbourne recently in the six-day and the Austral, but it will be nice just to race outdoors again and get that country feel back.”

Racing on Friday for the juniors starts at 5pm, with senior events from 5pm.