IVAN COOK CONTINUES HIS WINNING FORM BY CLAIMING THE FIRST OF THE ROAD RACE SERIES AT BRAMSTON BEACH ON SUNDAY. Backing up from his victory in the seasons Criterium opener, Ivan cleverly outgunned boom young sprinting specialist Brandon Hutton and the ever improving Andrew Harper in a thrilling drive to the line at the picturesque Beach side village.

Race organisers blended both A and B together making a field of eleven to face the sixty kilometre journey. Ivan had for company the recently elevated to A Grade trio of Shane Gelling, Tobia Kipper and Andrew Harper and add in for good measure the classy visitor from the Footscray club in Victoria Matt Elkan who had dominated the track at Smiths Park on the previous Wednesday night. The B grade section consisted of Grahame Allen, Gavin Butler, Mark Smedts and the Family Hutton Greg, David and Brandon.

With both grades together, riders had a neutral period from Bramston to the turn off to Cartwright Road quiet some distance although on turning out of the village it appeared Mark Smedts felt that the lead car driven by Mundi Allen wasn’t going quick enough as he surged to the lead and snuck a small break. However, ‘Smedsy’ was quickly brought back by Butler and Allen. As the 11 riders reached the rolling hills out of Bramston it was noticed that Matt Elkan was having a difficult time adjusting his seat calling out to the vehicle following for an Allen Key which of course we didn’t have. This meant that Matt had to wait by the road for support and this put one of the race favourites virtually out of business.

Despite the neutral zone the pace was solid with Allen, Kipper, Oliver Wacek, Harper and Cook pushing speeds of close to 50kph. However, as the field rounded the Cartwright Road turn toward Garradunga, Ivan Cook upped the ante and led from Shane Gelling, Andrew Harper, Grahame Allen and Tobia Kipper. It was now race on. Cook was joined by Brandon Hutton and instantly we had two divisions with Ivan Cook dictating up front, Gelling, Harper, Kipper, Brandon Hutton and Grahame Allen content to sit on his wheel, WITH a long gap back to Gavin Butler, David Hutton, Greg Hutton, Oliver Wacek and Mark Smedts and this group were now racing for third place IN THE B’s as Brandon Hutton and Grahame Allen were now matching motors with the A group.

From Garradunga back to the main road Cook made sure, with quick bursts, keeping all around him wondering when he may really set the field alight. However Kipper, Gelling and Harper were working hard to keep in touch as was Allen and Brandon Hutton. It was at this point Matt Elkan re-joined the front six after cutting short his trip after mechanical problems. This added to the tempo although Matt knew he was now riding for practice. 

Back from Miriwinni, the six front runners were all doing their bit although it appeared to the scribe in the car following, that Brandon Hutton was in a little bother purely by body language and that the two riders most comfortable were Cook and Elkan knowing that Elkan would be penalised for not completing the allotted distance.   THROUGH THE ROLLING HILLS NEAR Smoko Creek, Tobia Kipper had a crack as did Gelling, although Cook appeared unperturbed as the six riders swept passed the judges box heading for the boat ramp.

The order here was Cook leading from a rejuvenated Brandon Hutton (so much for the scribe’s body language) and they were followed by Elkan, Harper, Kipper, Allen and Gelling. Then a decent 3 minute distance to the main body of B grade and they were led by Greg Hutton, Oliver Wacek, Gavin Butler and Mark Smedts. David Hutton in need of the ride had already retired. Turning at the river, Andrew Harper took advantage of a messy turnaround which saw Ivan Cook lose valuable ground and Harper shot to the lead heading for home with Kipper on his wheel. Over the hills and straightening for the run in, Harper sprinting early was looking a huge chance as was Hutton however, the cagy Cook was right on their hammer with Elkan and Kipper close up Driving toward the line Ivan Cook swung out over wheels and packed too many guns and narrowly but comfortably took the honours from a fabulous ride from Brandon Hutton remember he was in B grade, next in was Matt Elkan and Andrew Harper followed by Tobia Kipper, Allen and Gelling.

Official Placings were A grade Ivan Cook 1st Andrew Harper 2nd with Tobia Kipper 3rd

B grade Brandon Hutton 1st Grahame Allen 2nd with Greg Hutton 3rd next in was Oliver Wacek.

All in all a cracking race with Ivan Cook hitting the right form as he sets sail back to the Netherlands to  re-join his WASP team in time for the pro season. We will still have Ivan for a couple of races before he leaves as well as the luckless Matt Elkan. We may see both at Smith’s Park next Wednesday night.

C and D grade

Combined the two grades could only muster five contenders, the small field may be attributed to a clash with a mountain bike event or the fact they all had to contend challenging the WHIZ KID youngster LUKE AZZARPARDI. However undaunted Scott Carson only a recent addition to the road and Paul Mitchell up from D grade after a dominant victory at the Woree Crit were keen to ride against Luke who, UP A YEAR AND UP A GEAR, had been busting to ride in the higher grade. The D grade duo were the ever improving James Mort and 70 odd year old marvel Jeff ( the DOC ) Hartley continuing to put the finishing touches on his mission to take on the WORLD in the masters to be held at Auckland in April.

Off and away, Paul Mitchell led the way from Luke, Scott Carson, James Mort and Jeff Hartley. Now from Bramston to the Miriwinni turnaround all riders did their turn with Jeff off the back doing exactly what he needs to do in his prep for Auckland. Spinning toward Bramston, Luke (to take a line from the MOVIE TITANIC) stretched his legs and led by 60 metres.  However, passed the Judges area and heading to the river the order was Carson, Azzarpardi, Mort and Mitchell with Hartley riding his own race well back.

 Leaving the river Paul Mitchell had a mechanical problem leaving Scott the daunting task of trying to match Luke over the concluding stages however the affable youngster again stretched his legs and rode away to romp in from Scotty Carson and James Mort 3rd followed by Paul Mitchell and ‘Mr Eveready’ Jeff Hartley still rolling along at the same pace he left.

Final placings C grade Luke Azzarpardi 1st Scott Carson 2nd Paul Mitchell 3rd

D grade James Mort 1st Jeff Hartley 2nd .

HUGE SHOUT OUT TO Michael Etherington for putting up with my incessant ramblings in the A and B Support car, Sue for efforts chasing C and D and OF COURSE Glenys, Mundi and Kim for tireless efforts in the official area Oh and I almost forgot RICHIE BATES the Commissar extraordinaire who gladly gave up his Sunday morning to preside over another fabulous BRAMSTON BEACH ROAD RACE.