Perfect conditions prevailed at the Club Championships held at the Woree Criterium course on Sunday. No real surprises through the morning, although a new rider to the road Marty Stayte took out the C grade race, and an intriguing A Grade race averaging a slick 41kmh saw a battle royal between The Master and the Apprentice which had the solid crowd on their toes.
A – away and instantly Damien Ingram and Peter Bridgewater showed their intent by zipping to a 13 second lead through the first lap, it was pace on with Tobia Kipper and Thomas Rue heading the bunch of eight chasing. By the third, the gap was only 5 sec with Paul Mashford and Linc Carolan working to bring it all back this was achieved by lap four. Gear trouble at this point brought Luke Azzopardi to a standstill obliging Luke to see out the mandatory lap with an army of mechanics attending the youngest rider in the race, successfully seeing Azzopardi re-join the peloton on the fifth lap. A sharp elevation to the A GRADE for promising rider Devan Van Vliet proved abridge too far for Devan, but whilst dropping off the back due to the relentless pressure early set by Bridgewater and Ingram the crowd warmed to Devan as at no stage Van Vliet was about to throw in the TOWELL as he chased hard throughout the entire race. Through the fifth Gary Haydon, Bernard Cossar- Smith held sway with Tobia Kipper and Adrian Cartlidge next in a packed bunch.
Through the next couple Gary Haydon slipped to the lead and pinched around 5 sec until joined by Linc Carolan and it was HOLD NO PRISONERS as Thomas Rue his first ride back from his duty with the Navy retired from the race. Bernard Cossar –Smith and Brian Nesbit seemed poised for the sprint lap until Haydon, Mashford and Azzopardi grabbed 4sec and disappeared toward PONZO St applying more pressure. Into view in Spotto over the rise and Azzopardi had shot to a clear lead and easily took the honours from Gary Haydon and Damien Ingram third just in front of Linc Carolan.
The next few laps Carolan followed by Ingram kept the pedals flashing until easing on the 15th with Tobia Kipper taking control with Haydon, Cossar-Smith and Bridgewater right on his hammer. The three to go mark signalled another attack from Ingram, this time joined by Azzopardi and the pair sped to the BELL with lead of 13 seconds both riding strongly, although Azzopardi was overheard to say “I’m Stuck in the one gear” a comment that Ingram brushed off with a WRY smile as they shot passed the judge on the final lap. The gear seemed at this stage not appearing to hamper the talented Azzopardi and entering the run in Azzopardi and Ingram were tooth and nail as the pair topped the rise. until Ingram stated to edge away to clinch the Title with Azzopardi seemly odds on to finish second until obviously his gear issue finally forcing Luke to abandon his bike, and desperately looking over his shoulder as to who was bearing down. Threw the bike over the shoulder ALAH Chris Froome at Mt Ventoux and just managed to hold off the charging pack led by Kipper and Carolan. It was an exciting race with Damien Ingram adding another championship to his already excellent CV over the last two seasons.
A very evenly matched 12 riders went through the first lap together with the bright green colours of Matt Driver top of the bunch. Then it was Tom Cook on top with Gav Butler and Grahame Allen sitting on the back smoking the Cherrywood. Through the third and fourth Matt Grillo and Steven Davies were prominent, then it was Mr Evergreen Grahame Allen who pinched a second or two, hotly pursued by Damien Newton. The order passed the sixth lap was Cook leading Josh Raynor poking his bike to the top end for the first time, and he was followed by Jason Whiteside, Grillo, James Coate and Greg Hutton. Steven Davies, Nathan Bursztynowicz and Neil Gregory appeared to be cruising midfield so this race WAS A RAFFLE. Then the anticipated Gavin Butler attack occurred through the Fifth getting to a 9 second break over the Spotto rise however just prior the Sprint Lap Butler was gathered in with James Coate taking control not sure what occurred down the back straight but James Coat with a strong turn of foot, topped the rise in front and was too strong to the line defeating Nathan Burstynowicz with Tom Cook third. The pace was surprisingly taken out of the race after the sprint, with most pundits saying “this will play into the hands of the sprinters”, referring to Hutton, Rayner, Newton and Cook. The next few laps saw Cook, Allen, Newton and Coat prominent, then with 3 laps left with a rush of second wind Matt Driver returned to the top with the very dangerous Raynor right behind him and they were followed by Grillo and Allen, all riders still in the mix. Heading for the back straight Butler momentarily took control. 2 left and Steven Davies emerged with Tom Cook and Rayner. At the bell yet another contender Grillo led Butler and Raynor “where to look” cried the caller. So the race that had changed complexion throughout the morning with all 12 riders featuring somewhere entered the final straight. Greg Hutton, Neil Gregory, Grahame Allen were all boxing on when Jonesy spotted the Flying Wombat Josh Rayner crunching to the front being followed through by Damien Newton who was rattling home. However it was the Third Criterium in a row for Josh taking the Championship from Damien Newton third in Greg Hutton followed by Allen, Gregory, Grillo and Cook, However all competitors take bow this was a Classic race for Championship honours.
The biggest field of the day 14 starters including a first time starter Marty Stayte a prominent Mountain Biker, also the long awaited return to the road by the Flying Vet Demian Bullock and a reasonable newcomer in Adam Beale all adding to the intrigue of this highly competitive grade. Off and Immediately Mark Procter and Alan Clarke sat on top of a pretty hot pace for this grade. Prominent early were John Duel and Paul Mitchell in fact through lap 3 the pair had pinched a few seconds with Procter clawing them back, then after 5 laps the pack were all together with Ollie Wacek (The Maestro ) leading the way. Next on top Idan Piercy, who tried to sneak a break however the bunch behind were having none of it. Swinging into Spotto on Lap 8 with Wacek in command steadying the pace cleverly as the A Grade sprint shot past without incident. The whistle for their sprint came a few laps later than usual and had Adam Beale leading with top contenders ready to pounce the caller claiming Gaby Thomasz, Michael Reid, John Duel and Mark Procter as the ones to beat. Well, Jonesy often gets it wrong and this was no exception. Four riders rode away from the bunch but only John Duel and Andrew Mills were gunning for the points in earnest, with John Duel being out gunned on the line by Andrew Mills driving hard along the inside to edge out Duel with Idan Piercy 3rd followed by Thomasz.
The next few laps mostly uneventful, however some riders such as Paul Mitchel pushing the pace from time to time. The popular Gary Perkins who had shown some reasonable dash early and could be heard babbling and telling his mate Marty to just go hard and harder towards the end of the race. Not long after he had proclaimed that he normally would have been dropped, the pack went quiet. Gary had burnt all his matches and was content to leave it to his teammate Marty Stayte as Gary disappeared from view and contention. With less than 3 to go Procter led Mills, Piercy with Thomasz fourth wheel then Mark Smedts and Demian Bullock. Sitting very quietly were Michael Reid and Marty Stayte. On to the BELL and Thomasz riding comfortably at 2nd wheel behind Procter, looked very much in control. Procter pushed the pace up to considerable speeds, stringing the pack out to a single line. Onto the back straight for the final time and the pace was on. Then, out of NO WHERE, Michael Reid jumped hard and attacked, and power he did, shooting for home, forcing Gaby Thomasz to let loose after him, meanwhile Demian Bullock wanting to tack onto Thomasz had no option to chase with Alan Clarke. Stayte and Mills still within co-ee. So entering Spotto, Thomasz having reeled in Reid was now left a sitting Duck as she topped the rise being challenged strongly by Duel and the Mountain Biker Marty Stayte who started to pull clear over the concluding stages to take the race in brilliant fashion from John Duel and an arguably unlucky Gaby Thomasz third. Gaby was followed home by Demian Bullock a strong effort after such a long break from the road, next home Andrew Mills.
WOMEN and D GRADE
Smaller numbers in both these grades however take nothing away from our three Women, Terri Sullivan, Nicole Holt and Colleen Harrison they love their cycling and are always affable regardless the conditions or whether there are three or thirty riding. Same goes for the WARRIORS Chris Atkins, Michael Etherington, Damien Smith and joining that trio Rob Pickford having his first Criterium Ride with the club. Starting with the Women all three Sullivan, Holt and Harrison stuck like glue throughout the early stages and were pretty much together when Nicole a very good track Rider took the sprint from Colleen and Terri, However there wasn’t much in it. From then on to the bell they rolled along at reasonable clip. Knowing that Colleen and Terri hadn’t really tested Nicole they both played into Holts Strength and although the pair were in close attendance Nicole proved too tough taking the championship from Colleen Harrison who ever so narrowly had the photo finish go in Colleen’s favour over Terri Sullivan In the closest thing to a dead heat you would ever see.
D Grade. As mentioned above the four riders rolled along at a leisurely pace keeping together until the bell for the sprint. Where Michael Etherington a very strong sprinter held out Chris Atkins with Rob Pickford and Damien Smith 3rd and fourth. Sprint gone and Suddenly Rob Pickford upped the pace and pinched 3 or so seconds over Etherington and Atkins with Damien Smith just sliding off the back. Pickfords lead was slowly increasing until just prior the 3 to go mark WHERE Atkins and Etherington working together pegged back the Canadian Rob (now an Aussie) AND THE TRIO HAD THE BELL RINGING IN THEIR EARS with Atkins leading Etherington and Pickford in that order. With Pickfords run just wilting slightly the two battled hardened Mates topped the rise with Atkins desperately trying to hold off Etherington but to no avail Michael notching up yet another Criterium this time the Club Championship, second in Chris third Rob and then Damien.
Rides of the DAY or watch this space A – Luke Azzopardi B – James Coate C – Michael Reid Women- Nicole Holt and D- Rob Pickford.