GAVIN TAYLOR WHO PUT THE WRITING ON THE WALL in LAST Month’s Woree Criterium with a strong first up performance has outsprinted his fourteen A GRADE opponents to record a stunning win from Michael Haseldine and Mark Bamford in a very classy field under the shade of the FAMOUS Gordonvale Pyramid in Sunday’s KEARMESS Road race.
The race kicked off near the intersection of Crossland and Highleah Roads in perfect conditions. The course seven laps of the 7.5klm circuit was always going to be a thrilling event with fifteen of THE Far Norths strongest riders. Thrilling it was with Damien Ingram bouncing straight to the lead in what was going to be a scorching first lap. Ingram quickly established a 50 sec lead and passing the judges box on lap one had further increased his lead from Brandon Hutton and Andrew Harper with a smaller break to Simon Hubbard and Dominic Hoyal with the following group packed together.
The counter attack came from Paul Mashford and Dominic Hoyal who shut down the Ingram move on the back straight of Russell Road before the group consolidated as they sped through lap two. The order being Ingram, Hubbard, Gary Haydon, Mark Hogan, Tobia Kipper, Gavin Taylor and Shane Gelling, however all fifteen close up. Lap three commenced with Michael Haseldine, Andrew Harper, Damien Ingram, Tobia Kipper, Mark Hogan and Gary Haydon forming a solid group. Sensing the danger this group could pose, Mark Bamford back from a lengthy lay off quickly bridged the gap to get in, in what could have been the move of the day. However a combination of lack of cohesion and the concern that the breakaway group could reform had all riders groupo compacto.
The hectic pace saw the demise of top rider Graham Grant who in his own words hadn’t done the work and the unfortunate Mark Hogan who riding strongly had his chain dislodged over a cane Line bringing him to grief. Hogan was at the time in hot pursuit of Ingram and Kipper. With Hogan out of play Dominic Hoyal joined the leading bunch and race on. Through lap 4 and this time it was Gary Haydon and Gavin Taylor trying to sneak a break only to see Ingram riding a very aggressive race reeling them in with Hoyal, Harper and Bamford right behind. Next move was Mark Bamford instantly joined by Simon Hubbard and the pair pinched a mini break only this time the following group didn’t initiate any chase.
After taking a timely rest after coming to grief, Mark Hogan assumed the compassion of the commissaire and joined forces with Haydon, and in their matching livery attempted to reel in the leading Duo, this done and Passing the Judge on the sixth occasion Andrew Harper momentarily struck the front followed by Haseldine, Ingram, Hubbard and Taylor by this point the field had lost Kipper and Gelling however a great crescendo was looming. Into the bottom corner, HOYAL ATTACKS WITH MASHFORD followed by Ingram with immediate impact, the group was now scrambling to stay on the wheel of the leading trio. Rolling turns – gaps were appearing and within the straight of Russell Road the field was spread in Indian file however they had joined the group of Hubbard, providing respite the rest needed to recuperate on the final lap.
6 klms out and Bamford sets off and again little reaction, before Gavin Taylor ( GT ) springs into action to meet him, shortly followed by Haseldine and Haydon. Believing all under control the group seemed content as all looked at each other to bring them back. After dangling at the back the lap before, Tyson Sundman and Brandon Hutton looked to make an effort to reel them in (however the larger lady was just clearing her throat) for now we had a four horse race. 300 meters out and Bamford was dangerously poised at the rear being led by Haydon from GT then Haseldine, before Taylor let down with 150 to go and managed to hold off Haseldine then Bamford with the rest of the group battling for fifth where Hubbard led the rest.
The GORDONVALE KERMESSE lived up to its expectation of being a classic and as would be expected in its BELGUIM COBBLED equivalent, DOMINIC HOYAL managed to find the only cobble in the whole of Gordonvale, suffering an untimely puncture as he crossed the line.
B GRADE HAD A WONDERFUL MIXTURE OF Seasoned Road and Track riders, star youngsters in both those genres and a couple of newcomers in the father and son duo of Mitchell and Grant Knight. What a spectacular sight it was to witness the field of twenty disappear down Highleagh Rd on their 7 Lap journey. PAST THE JUDGES AREA ON THE FIRST LAP Grahame Allen led Jamie Holman with Fiona Yard, Mitchell Knight and Grant Knight together and they were followed by Matt Driver and Mick Mehonoshon with Renowned sprinter Rod Larcombe watching it all unfold at the rear.
Through the third lap a mechanical had the MUSCLE MAN Gav Butler out of business and Gavin was now simply riding around for practice. It was at this point that WARRNAMBOOL Champ Fiona Yard started to dictate as how the race should be run, and set a more than steady tempo, on Fiona’s wheel were Jamie Holman, Jason Berry-Porter, Nathan Bursztynowicz, and Youben Jo (or as we now know him, simply JOE). Fiona Yard was again the leader after the next lap with this time Josh Raynor having a look at Fiona’s wheel in company with Berry-Porter, Allen and Grant Knight however not that much separated first from Last.
This very picturesque circuit didn’t hold any fears for the sprinters NO HILLS and very little CROSS WINDS meaning unless there is some form of breakaway group the sprinters would be licking their lips AND WERE GOING TO BE HARD TO HOLD OUT. Lap five and Mick Mehonoshon was seen rolling off the front with Kenny Dyson and Fiona Yard doing a power of work up front and they were joined by Neil Gregory, Matt Driver and Grant Knight. Prior this point of the race the LUCKLESS Mark Smedts had punctured and was GONSKI. Not much had gone right for the affable Smedts since his excellent ride at Bramston a month or so ago.
Heading toward the final 14 klms or two laps out the order was Yard, Gregory, Holman, Mehonoshon, Grant Knight and Grahame Allen. However lurking in the pack were Rod Larcombe, Greg Hutton, Liam Mc Donald and Josh Raynor all of whom would be dangerous in a sprint Finish and of course Grahame Allen and Neil Gregory are no slouches when it comes to spinning wheels. So it was anyone’s race. Last lap Fiona Yard disappeared down the road with a hot field on her wheel.
Down the long Crossland Road straight four riders drew to the front to fight out the finish. Innisfail’s Ken Dyson was prominent as was Rod Larcombe and the unmistakable style of Greg Hutton in the company of Grahame Allen and a massive bunch behind them and in a thrilling drive to the line Greg Hutton packed too many guns and drew away to defeat Ken Dyson, Ken in the next couple of weeks is off to Maryborough Victoria for a shot at the Australian Veterans Championships and will derive plenty of benefit from his solid performance, third place went to Grahame Allen followed by Rod Larcombe and Mitchell Knight in a fabulous first up ride. Then JOE WHO THIS TIME PUT Oliver Wacek’s advice from his last ride into practice and therefore improving out of sight.
Huge credit to Fiona Yard who from the outset made this a tough event however Fiona needed a few more hills, severe cross winds and a few extra Kilometres to unsettle those who sat on her wheels.
Another strong field of fifteen competitors left on their journey of five laps, and all riders knew they would need to work hard to try and match teen wizard Luke Azzarpardi and his understudy Kane Hodge as the two youngsters have been matching motors on both TRACK and ROAD and presented huge obstacles for the entire field. However through the first lap it another young up and comer in Emma Simpson who led the way. Emma was followed through by Gary Perkins, Paul Mitchell and Al Hodge whilst James Mort was at that point watching it all happen at the back.
Switching roles through the second lap Paul Mitchell recently up a grade took over from Emma and they were followed by Kane Hodge, Luke Azzarpardi and Gabby Thomasz. Gabby had brought along her own cheer squad in DAD Otto Thomasz fresh from the land of TULIPS and it was great to get in site as to why Gabby would end up a quality bike rider considering all the miles she rode as a kid.
No bike race can ever get away from the inevitable SHOCKER not sure what happened or even whose fault it may have been, but three riders around the back of the course decided to make the course further by going the WRONG WAY Graham Jensen, Ethan Chamberlain and former Canadian Rider Hillary Bell disappeared up the wrong road and that virtually put paid to any real hopes of being competitive. I might add that all three took their mistake in good spirits.
With the race warming up on the third lap the procession past the Judges Box was in order was Al Hodge rolling along in front of Paul Mitchell, Kath Deed, Gabby Thomasz and hot on their wheels were Kane Hodge and Luke Azzarpardi looking awfully comfortable. Not much change through the next lap with Ben Riley joining the leading pack and James Mort and Emma Simpson edging closer. THE BELL and that signals 7.5 klms to go. At this point most riders were looking over their shoulders waiting for Luke to make his move. However the local lad was like a cat playing with a mouse and it wasn’t until the back stretches that Azzarpardi said CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and the local lad took off and established a solid break. Kane Hodge as expected rode strongly after his nemeses and good mate and the pair had the race in their keeping when bursting into view down the long CROSSLAND ROAD STRAIGHT.
With Luke looking over his shoulder as to where Kane was the two young riders easily took the honours Azzarpardi first and Kane Hodge second back in third spot was Hodge senior Al next in was Gabby Thomasz ( doing her dad proud ) AND SHE WAS FOLLOWED HOME BY Emma Simpson putting up another solid performace.
D GRADE and WOMEN.
The combination of these two grades had eleven face the starter. The race had the added interest of two father and Daughter combos Mike and Jaime Thurtell and Al and Klare Marcic. Race on and after the first 7.5 klms or lap one, the first six riders past the judges box were ALL Relative new comers, in order they were Adan Dunn leading the way from Michael Etherington, Klare Marcic, Al Marcic RIGHT ON HIS DAUGHTERS WHEEL FOLLOWED BY Julie Scharf and Takuma Konno however no distance between first and last held down by Peter Hume.
Through the second of the five lap course and Takuma Konno led from Al Marcic and Adam Dunn with Tony Nastasi and Jeff Hartley biding their time mid field No much change in the order through the next two laps although Al Marcic was very prominent at the head of affairs. This race was an absolute guess through the bell lap although Julie Scharf was looking extremely cosy mid field, as did Etherington, Dunn and Nastasi.
Lining up for the sprint home Adam Dunn hit the front with weaving a passage from mid field Tony Nastasi THREATENING DANGER as was Julie Scharf and Mike Etherington the winner was in that group as they swept to the line with Adam Dunn taking the race from Tony Nastasi and Michael Etherington fourth over was Julie Scharf therefor taking the women’s event they were chased home by Jeff Hartley and Mike Thurtell a very creditable performance first up.
Placings D grade Adan Dunn 1st Tony Nastasi 2nd Michael Etherington 3rd
Women Julie Scharf 1st Klare Marcic 2nd Jaime Thurtell 3RD.
What a great day mainly thanks to Don, Glenys, Mundi, Richie, Sue, Mike, Gavin, Linda and of course THE SCRIBE Kim.