Elite League Preview 2005
Predicted finishing positions relate to the league section of the championship.
ARENA ESSEX HAMMERS
The Hammers look like one of the weaker sides in the league, but should still be an attractive side to watch around their own Purfleet circuit. On the road they might find the going a bit too tough. Mark Loram will be good for points everywhere and Gary Havelock can still be a big scorer when he's in the mood. Larsen, Hurry and Lanham will be strong at home but none will produce the goods on a regular enough basis away from home. Roman Povazhny is an entertainer but is also prone to inconsistency, and it's hard to see the experienced Piotr Swist hitting the big time at this stage of his career.
Key man: Paul Hurry - Hammers would need something dramatic from him to make the play-offs
BELLE VUE ACES
The new broom at Belle Vue has swept clean and a new look Aces side, with a new attitude, will take to the track this year. World Champion Jason Crump leads the way and it's unthinkable that the Aussie won't post a 10+ average again this year. Joe Screen, fitter and leaner than for many years, should provide his main backup. Screen may even go on to emulate David Norris' amazing renaissance of 2004 and if he can then the Aces will be very strong. Kenneth Bjerre and Simon Stead provide youthful support to the big guns and both should be good for seven point averages. Old stagers Jason Lyons, Andy Smith and Steve Masters complete the lineup. Lyons will be keen to prove he's still a capable Elite league rider after his disastrous spell with Poole last season. Andy Smith gives the Aces a real sting in the tail, despite his frustrating inconsistency.
Key man: Joe Screen - If Joe can hit the heights then the Aces may be unstoppable.
The Bees experienced a nightmare year in 2004 and have taken steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. The capture of Scott Nicholls gives Andreas Jonsson the support he lacked last season and both riders should enjoy the healthy competition for the top spot in the averages. Rory Schlein performed well for Belle Vue last term and seems to be destined for the top. He may find the full-time commitment to the Elite league, without the confidence boosting Premier league rides, harder but he has the mental strength to ride through any dips in form. Chris Harris didn't do as well as expected last season, however he should reap the benefits of the experience this year. Morten Risager, Daniel Davidsson and Martin Smoliski complete the side.
Key man: Rory Schlein - Can he maintain his Belle Vue form?
The Eagles look like a solid, although perhaps slightly unexciting, side. David Norris will be back and determined to pick up where he left off in 2004 - although that will perhaps be easier said than done. Nicki Pedersen's robust efforts will bring plenty of points and Dean Barker will return bigger scores than he did for Arena last season. Adam Shields may be ready to make the big breakthrough to world class, although another year of consolidation is more likely. Davey Watt and Andrew Moore complete the regular six, both stepping up full time from the Premier league. Adam Allott and Steen Jensen share the number seven berth.
Key man: Adam Shields - Eagles need him to push on and challenge for top spot in the team.
Not a team that looks too good on paper. Hans Andersen will be the undisputed number one now that Nicholls has jumped ship to Coventry. Chris Louis and Pepe Protasewicz are the second and third heatleaders, solid enough but not as strong as comparable pairings at other clubs. Kim Jansson, Daniel King, Robert Miskowiak and Karol Baran form the lower order. Newcomers Miskowiak and Baran are unknown quantities but seem unlikely to make a major immediate impact and it's hard to see the Witches making the play-offs.
Key man: Hans Andersen - The Witches will need him at his very best at all times.
OXFORD SILVER MACHINE
Even at this stage there's still considerable doubt over the Silver Machine's lineup. The Hancock and Hamill saga has been running for weeks although the inevitable outcome has always seemed that they would both appear for Oxford. They will form a strong spearhead, even if Hamill is perhaps slightly passed his best. Lukas Dryml returns to Oxford after a disappointing season at Peterborough and will be looking to rediscover the potential that he showed two summers ago. Niels Kristan Iversen and Travis McGowan, both big favourites of promoter Nigel Wagstaff, are a youthful middle order and Iversen in particular has the potential to really raise his average. Tom P. Madsen and Kjastas Puodzhuks, a newcomer from Latvia, will be at reserve.
Key man: Lukas Dryml - Needs to get his faltering career back on track
The Panthers' team doesn't look like a Peterborough side at all. Peter Karlsson returns to the UK and should easily top the averages for the Showground side. 'Sudden Sam' Ermolenko has opted for another season of action but has had to move away from his spiritual Wolverhampton home. Billy Janniro, Ales Dryml and Joonas Kylmakorpi can all be bracketed together as contenders for a heatleader spot. All are men with largely unfulfilled potential and 2005 will be a key season for all of them. Paul Lee, who started last season in the Conference league, gets the chance to ride in the top flight and if he rides sensibly could emulate the quietly effective performances that the likes of Jason Bunyan and Daniel King have turned in at this level in recent years. Henning Bager completes the lineup.
Key man: Sam Ermolenko - Can he hold it together for one more year?
The Pirates have won the league in each of the last two seasons, and a third consecutive title already looks a distinct possibility. Ryan Sullivan, Bjarne Pedersen and Antonio Lindback are top-class performers who can be relied on to pile up the points at both home and away. Matej Ferjan is an excellent man to have as a number four, his inconsistency can prove costly at times but he was a much improved rider last season. Krzyzstof Kasprzak, Ray Morton and Ricky Ashworth are the bottom three and all will score points. Morton in particular should prove to be one of the best reserves in the league and should thrive on the new challenge. The Pirates perhaps lack an 'out and out' number one, but there isn't a weak link from one to seven.
Key man: Ray Morton - 'Ripper' is easily good enough to average five points from reserve.
Any team that includes Leigh Adams is always going to do well. The Aussie seems to get better with each passing season and he and Swindon seem to suit each other. Lee Richardson has been recruited to offer backup and, if he can stay fit and healthy, will win plenty of races for the Robins. Charlie Gjedde slots in as the third heatleader, with Sebastian Alden, Sebastian Tressarieau, Olly Allen and Jonas Davidsson filling the other racejackets. Plenty of potential at the bottom end and the Robins should be good for a spot in the play-offs.
Key man: Lee Richardson - Robins need him on the track - not the treatment table
On first inspection this looks like a team that needs another heatleader. Further investigation shows that it's a side that contains no mugs and a reasonable amount of experience. Mikael Max will be as good as ever and will win his fair share of heat fifteens - the question mark seems to be over who will line up alongside him in those crucial races. David Howe is probably the most likely candidate but he's still got a little bit to go before he can regularly win those kind of races. Steve Johnson comes in to bolster the middle order and he knows every track in the league inside out. Ronnie Correy makes an unlikely return to Monmore but the jury is still out on his comeback. Magnus Karlsson moves up from Hull, maintaining a family link that goes back 16 years now, and Frederik Lindgren returns. Mystery man Krzysztof Pecyna completes the team.
Key man: David Howe - Can he score points in the races that matter?
This article was first published on 13th March 2005
"It's a shame nothing like this appears in any of the national papers (well any that I have read anyway). Having seen the coverage given to F1 in most papers I'm sure a Sky Elite preview could have looked just as colourful and impressive, even if only given half a page. I assume the BSPA do issue such articles to the national press? "
"Good review, like the bit about needing Lee Richardson on the TRACK not the TREATMENT TABLE (I am a Swindon supporter) thought that was very good."
"Love the predictions, just keep on knocking us Essex Boys down at the famous Arena
Essex, we are more than happy being the underdogs, and it will give all the riders a
big boost just to prove you and everyone else wrong. How does the Millwall FC song go??
....."No one rates us, we don't care !"
There aren't many teams who relish the thought
of a visit to Arena and quite a few who may just under estimate us away from home.
WE SHALL SEE IN OCTOBER !!"
There aren't many teams who relish the thought of a visit to Arena and quite a few who may just under estimate us away from home. WE SHALL SEE IN OCTOBER !!"
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