ANOTHER ACTION PACKED A GRADE RACE THROWS UP A BRAND NEW NAME TO CLAIM WOREE HONOURS ON SUNDAY, AS KIERAN MOULDEY took advantage of a Simon Hubbard crash and some peloton indecision to cleverly pinch a thriller on the tricky Criterium Circuit. A blistering first couple of laps set by Linc Carolan and Damien Ingram had the large crowd on their toes from the get go. With the field literally flying through lap 3 the order was Ingram, Peter Bridgewater, Carolan, Shane Gelling and Tobia Kipper and the rest of the field of eleven riders in close attendance. Damien Ingram was testing the mettle of his competitors however no latitude was given by the ever attentive Linc Carolan. Ingram then jumps Carolan and Simon Hubbard came across to meet them but the following pack simply tailed them and a Mexican standoff began. Who else was going to set the pace?
That question was answered on the completion of lap four as the inform Hubbard streaming close to the gutter swept to a ten second lead. Being early in the race the trailing pack offered little interest however through laps 5 to 7 Hubbard was maintaining an average lead of around 18 seconds until Mr Aggression himself Linc Carolan set sail after Simon. The Commissars whistle highlighted the Sprint LAP and the chasing group were easy with the understanding that it was Hubbard or Carolan if Linc could make it across, however Simon Hubbard prevailed for the sprint accolades, as Carolan makes the catch, ten seconds astern followed Tobia Kipper and Bruno Baarbrisi.
The next 2 laps spelt danger for the entire chasing pack as Carolan and Hubbard working together snuck out to 20 seconds break with the previous Crit winner young Cody Haseldine now prominent with Brandon Hutton, Felix Graf and Kieran Mouldey doing their share of the bullocking work along with Ingram to bring back the dangerous duo out front, however this where Simon Hubbard made a rare mistake and lost his front wheel into the infamous hotdog turn, ripping his derailleur from the frame and the nominal favourite was now out of the race leaving Linc Carolan alone in the lead and this was going to be a big ask to hold off the rabid pack. Lap 14 and Carolan still had 15 sec break over Gelling, Barbarisi, Ingram and Hutton.
The Chasing group of ten riders were slowly closing in on the irrepressible Carolan and with 2 laps left Linc’s lead was down to 8 sec from Hutton, Gelling riding strongly and he was closely attended by Graf, Ingram, Barbarisi and Kipper however, first to last were all in with a show until a mechanical put paid to the chances of a gallant Gelling as the field were narrowing down on Carolan. (Rumour has it, that Shane bestowed Tobia as his mechanic, who clearly didn’t have the strength to tighten the spindle bolt) With Linc gathered in the group appeared to be waiting for a surprise from Ingram, when over the Spotto Rise blasts Kieran Mouldey, and no one moved, however after a great showing in the Great Northern Tour and having not far to go there was a strong possibility that Mouldey may be hard to catch.
Past the start finish line for the bell Mouldey appeared to be vulnerable however there was a little mucking around from the main group with indecision as to who may lead the capture of the new tearaway leader and instantly Kieran Mouldey increased his lead. Flying up the back straight Tobia Kipper made his way to the front of the chasing mob making his intensions clear but Tobia’s mistake was to make his attack from the front of the group for all to predict, thus providing a perfect slingshot for the others as they rounded the final corner into Spotto. The wind had picked up and inch by inch the fast finishing Damien Ingram was picking up Mouldey however Ingram ran out of ground and Kieran Mouldey pulled of a brilliant tactical win over Ingram who was followed home by a sensational ride by Linc Carolan, oh so game in finishing third followed in turn Brandon Hutton, Felix Graf and Tobia Kipper. All eleven riders putting on another classic A grade event.
The smallest B grade in ages however the field stacked with quality including Kath Deed riding in this grade after some excellent performances in the lower grades and Kath was joined by previous winners in Greg Hutton, Alex Starmer, Tom Cook, Classy youngsters Kane Hodge and Luke Azzarpardi. The consistent Nathan Bursztynowicz and Perennial place getter Grahame Allen who was the ABC’S ELECT to win the race after a slashing performance at the Great Northern Tour.
Tommy Cook led through the first lap at a genuine pace followed by Nathan Bursztynowicz and Alex Starmer third wheel, the small field though clipping along was going to make it very difficult for any major breakaway attempt. However Kane Hodge, Luke Azzarpardi and Grahame Allen were continually seen at the top, through the 5th lap Allen led with Kath Deed smack on his wheel a pretty good wheel to track followed by Tom Cook. It was here one lap off the sprint that Luke Azzarpardi struck the led and put a small gap on the field chased by Alex Starmer and Greg Hutton but Luke kept rolling and easily collected sprint honours from Grahame Allen and Tom Cook.
Soon after with the D grade group in his sights Azzarpardi SWOOOPED past with a twenty second lead over Allen, Cook and Deed in pursuit. A lap later and the experienced of Allen had poured water over the breakaway move and wrested the lead from Luke to lead from Alex Starmer and Tom Cook however a blanket would cover the field. The next seven laps Grahame Allen was the main pace setter usually with Kath Deed not far away with Kane Hodge and a rested Luke periodically taking back control. Three to go past the Start finish line the order was Greg Hutton riding his usual cunning race closely attended by Allen, Cook, Deed and Starmer.
The race was provoking different opinions as to who might be successful the commentator suggesting Allen, voices on the other side of the road were claiming Hutton or Azzarpardi. Last lap had Alex Starmer strike the front from Grahame Allen, and sitting on his wheel Luke. With all eyes staring at the northern end of the Spotto Straight it was no real surprise to see the two young Track stars Hodge and Azzarpardi start to edge clear with Allen trying desperately to hang on and it was Luke drawing away to win the race from Kane with Grahame Allen yet another placing third. Grahame was followed in by Greg Hutton, Tom Cook, Alex Starmer and Kath Deed. Nathan having retired a lap or so earlier. The small field still contained plenty of interest, but all honours to the two young riders who fought out the finish Luke and Kane showing that the cycling ranks of Cairns Cycling remain in healthy condition.
Riders to show out through the first five laps were Paul Mitchell, Scot Carson, Adam Ewart, AL Hodge and Alex Hall however the field of eleven was reasonably compact through the early laps. The order lining up for the sprint lap was Paul Mitchell, Scott Carson, Al Hodge, Gabby Thomasz, Jaime Thurtell and Julie Scharf. With many predicting an Al Hodge and Gabby Thomasz finish, the first surprise was that Gabby showed no interest in the sprint and was content two watch Scott Carson and Al Hodge fight the finish out with Carson in terrific form taking the sprint from Hodge with ever improving Jaime Thurtell close up in third place and she was followed by Alex Hall and Julie Scharf.
Sprint over and another top class rider not having a crack at the sprint Mel Pryde took control from Scott Carson never far from the action and they led from Jaime Thurtell and Al Hodge however THE ENTIRE FIELD pretty much all together. Rolling along toward three to go Al Hodge who thrives in being a lamp lighter was very prominent with Carson, and the brilliant outfit of Gabby Thomasz now seen sneaking into the top three with Scharf and Thurtell close up. 3 Left and Hodge led Carson looking awfully ominous, and tucked in behind them was Jaime Thurtell riding the best race of her short career. Two out and this time Mel Pryde pushed the front with Gabby Thomasz showing that all the women in the race were putting up a terrific effort against the men. At the bell Mel, Gabby Jamie still led with Scott Carson lurking just off their wheels. Into the final Straight and Scott Carson and Gabby Thomasz had drawn clear to fight it out, and as much as Gabby tried she could not gather in the inform Scott who took the race narrowly from Gabby with Mel Pryde third. Fourth over the line was Al Hodge followed in by Jaime Thurtell, Paul Mitchell and Julie Scharf.
The WARRIORS DIVISION received an injection of interest with former track legend Jim Larcombe lining up for a rare crack at a criterium and the emergence of recent women’s race placegetter in Karen Reimann, they were pitted against red hot favourite Tony Nastasi, The Pink Pensioner Jeff Hartley, ever the Bridesmaid Michael Etherington, Andrew Mills, Justin Bell, Gordon Paris back from a lengthy lay off and relative newcomer John D’Andrea. AWAY AND STRIGHT OUT OF THE BLOCKS BOUNCED Andrew Mills who led past the judge on lap one in front of Tony Nastasi, Jeff Hartley, Michael Etherington and Gordon Paris, pace reasonable through the early part of the race.
First 5 Laps done and leading up to the sprint Nastasi, Etherington, Mills and Jimmy Larcombe were keen to show the way. Lap before the sprint had Mills leading Etherington, Nastasi, Hartley and Karen Reimann however feeling the pinch was John D’Andrea who only recently jumped on the bike and was tailing out the back. It was at this point Quality rider Alex Hall joined John in a mentoring role to assist John through the rest of the race, an act that brought a positive reaction from the spectators. Swinging in for the sprint, the first surprise was that recent sprint winner Michael Etherington wasn’t among the top three as they charged up the rise. So it was Tony Nastasi and old rival Jeff Harley fighting out the finish with Tony collecting the win from Jeff and Karen Reimann a top effort back in third place.
Laps after the sprint saw Justin Bell edging closer in the run however Gordon Paris stared to slip of the back. The rest of the field headed for the final 3 lap mark, all well in contention. Andrew Mills topped the list through to the bell however Michael Etherinton having learnt a big lesson in burning to much petrol in recent sprint wins, was close on his wheel and picket fence Nastasi ( a racing term for three wins in a row 111) was sitting right behind them a cracker of a finish coming up.
The order at the bell was Mills, Etherington, Bell, Nastasi and Hartley and they were followed by Larcombe and Reimann. As the field swung into Spotto for the last time The commentator was clearly heard calling ‘’here comes Tony Nastasi’’ but just in front of him was Michael Etherington and in the thrilling finish Michael wrested the crown form Tony in a great drive to the line with Justin Bell third, next in was Jimmy Larcombe followed by Jeff Hartley and Karen Reimann in an always classic Warriors event. All honours to Michael who now is starting to put it all together and we look forward to the next clash of the TITANS.
Great racing in perfect weather. A huge shout out to all our volunteers especially to Emma Gelling for filling in for my secretary KIM, and to STEVE from the BENDIGO CLUB FOR ARRANGING MY COFFEE WITH THE HELP OF MUNDI.
Until we meet again yours in Cycling