LUKE AZZOPARDI ADDED THE FINAL OF THE LDI CRITERIUM SERIES TO HIS ALREADY IMPRESSIVE CV WHEN HE DEFEATED HIS ONLY OTHER RIVAL IN SUNDAY’S RACE BERNARD –COSSAR SMITH. Luke had an unassailable lead throughout the series, and maybe this was the reason the current u/17 Queensland road champ was able to take the title without much effort. Both he and Bernard rode with the B GRADE GROUP with Luke winning the sprint and race with Bernard content to do just enough to enjoy the hit out and prepare for the Mareeba Road race next month. Despite the disappointing nonappearance of most of the top grade riders both Bernard and Luke received a warm reception from the enthusiastic punters in attendance and both will be strong contenders in any race they progress to throughout the season. The final standings over the series were Luke Azzopardi 1st Simon Hubbard 2nd Kieran Mouldey 3rd
With only a small window of opportunity to give a full blown report due to prior commitments, I haven’t had a chance to view the finish of this event. So I’m working purely on my very average memory to recall the final placings. What I can report is that Tom Cook, Josh Raynor, Grahame Allen, Brian Nesbit and Matt Grillo all shared their turn on a solid pace, in particular Tom Cook. A little later Thomas Rue and Alex Starmer mixed shoulders with the leading bunch. However the serious pace took its toll early with noted Trackman Greg Hutton feeling the pinch, and SPRINT ITSELF PLAYED HAVOC with others. Swinging into Spotto for the dash for cash the unmistakable bright red colours of race favourite Brian Nesbit were seen surging to the lead with Thomas Rue into clear air and Challenging and they were closely followed by Alex Starmer and Matt Grillo, and in a thrilling drive to the wire it was Brian Nesbit holding off the fast finishing Rue followed by Grillo, Starmer and Allen.
However the brutal sprint did a swag of damage to some of the major players in the race. Thomas Rue, Fred Boin and Brian Nesbit looked in some trouble dropping off the back a lap after the sprint. With Cook, Allen, Rayner and Grillo keeping the tempo alive. SO it wasn’t surprising that there would be casualties, however STILL CLINGING ON heading for the final 3 laps were Starmer, Chris Chastre, Kath Deed and Matt Wust although due to the two A GRADERS IN THE SAME EVENT Cossar – Smith and Azzopardi, there was no respite. Three to go it was Allen and Cook, then at the bell Chris Chastre momentarily struck the top in advance of Rayner with a wall of riders behind them led by Grillo. With all eyes watching Luke Azzopardi top the rise in front there was one heck of a B Grade race going on behind him with Josh Rayner and Matt Grillo singling out to fight out the finish with Matt Grillo just edging out the Flying WOMBAT TO TAKE THE HONOURS and the aggressive Tom Cook close up in third spot. I hope I got that right.
The series going to 1st BRIAN NESBIT 2ND MATT GRILLO 3RD TOM COOK.
Race away and no early surprise with Gav Butler rolling to the top with Brady McIntyre in close attendance at the back end Brenton Koch just taking time adjusting his feet whipped them in. Through the early laps rubbing shoulders with race favourites Butler and McIntyre, were RACE SPONSER – LDI’S Jason Whiteside and he was followed by Alan Clarke, Steven Davies and Alisha Wells. Heading toward the sprint lap Brady McIntyre had certainly asserted his intention to dominate from a forward position as he repeatedly assumed the role as pacesetter, with Gavin Butler content at this point to let him go. Not that the race was purely between that duo, as riding strongly just behind the leaders were Alisha Wells, Steven Davies, James Mort and New comers Rowan Hickey and Simon Pridgeon both welcome additions to the cycling ranks of the Far North and adding to the intrigue of this highly competitive grade. Into Spotto for the sprint Butler had McIntyre on his right shoulder as they topped the rise together with Alisha Wells riding a fantastic race and Jason Whiteside challenging but as they drew to the line the young McIntyre packed too many guns and took the sprint from Butler with Whiteside and Wells right on their hammer.
Sprint settled and the SMILING ASSASSIN Steven Davies along with Mark Procter and Simon Pridgeon added new blood to the leading bunch and instantly we had race on, and still on their wheels Alisha Wells. Butler then joined Davies and the pair pinched a small break from McIntyre with James Mort making a cameo appearance in the first four. Drawing toward the last stages of the race Davies, Butler and McIntyre were looking most likely, however at the bell evergreen Mick Mehonoshen came blistering out of nowhere and set out after the leading trio but that effort from Mick was short lived and he drifted back mid field. Swinging into the final straight Butler had Davies challenging resolutely with Whiteside and McIntyre still there, and flashing into contention wide out Simon Pridgeon. In the drive to the line Steven Davies drew away to beat Butler with the fast finishing Pridgeon third next in Whiteside and McIntyre.
The series going to Brady Mcintyre 1st Gavin Butler 2nd Steven Davies 3rd
Six battled hardened WARRIORS – Damien Smith, Gordon Paris, David O’Gorman, Chris Atkins, Tony Nastasi and Michael Etherington had to take on talented youngster Miguel Groth in the final of the D Grade series. Tony Nastasi instantly whacked some decent early pace into the race with Chris Atkins, Michael Etherington going with him followed by David O’Gorman and Miguel Groth with Damien Smith and Gordon Paris at the back of those. It wasn’t long into the race when Young Groth ambled up alongside Nastasi and Etherington as if to point out, whatever you chuck at me I’M READY TO MATCH you. So the pace for this grade was certainly up a notch or two, so whenever Etherington, Atkins and in particular Nastasi made a move Miguel Groth was either breathing down their necks or controlling things from the front. So into the straight for the Sprint and though strong sprinter that Etherington is he was no match for Groth as he comfortably took sprinting honours from Etherington and Atkins. At this STAGE OF THE RACE Damien Smith and Gordon Paris were more than likely saying “HOW LONG IS THIS KID GONNA STAY IN THIS GRADE”. As they were slipping out of contention.
Sprint well gone, the Wiley Nastasi deliberately leaving the sprint alone to figure out a way of unsettling the BOOM youngster, seemed bemused by the tactics of Etherington and Groth as they repeatedly were weaving LEFT AND RIGHT akin to track racing, so with 3 laps left Tony Nastasi had enough of this tactic and straight as a gun barrel swept alongside Miguel and the race was on. Two laps out Nastasi led Groth, Etherington, Atkins and O’Gorman. At the bell again there were five possible but really only two probable’s Nastasi and Groth into the straight and up the rise Nastasi trying valiantly to stay with Groth couldn’t match it with the young rider who drew away for a convincing win over Nastasi with Chris Atkins back in third spot in a typical enthralling D GRADE clash. The race and Series to Miguel Groth 1st Tony Nastasi 2nd Chris Atkins 3rd.
The Women’s race is slowly building into a regular fixture in the Criterium and Road SERIES as they are sneaking their way to solid numbers. This time we had series leader Nicole Holt up against Deena Keith and Team mates Kylie Anderson, Terri Sullivan and Danielle Erskine. So this race was Groupo Compacto for most of the event, however they were all rolling at a genuine tempo with all five a chance of sprint success. A lap out from the dash for cash Kylie Anderson and Danielle Erskine led Terri Sullivan with Nicole Holt and Deena Keith sitting just off them. It was always going to be difficult for any of the group to match it with Nicole a renowned Track Sprinter and so it was, with Nicole Holt blazing away to take the cash from Kylie Anderson and Danielle Erskine, then a small gap to Terri and Deena.
On toward the major prize and spots on the podium, it was here the caller noticed that every time the girls swung into the Spotto Straight, and into a very decent headwind invariably the Diminutive Danielle Erskine was punching the breeze doing a tremendous amount of work, She along with Kylie Anderson did the bulk of the bullocking work throughout the event. However coming up to the bell if they couldn’t make Nicole Holt work a little harder, then they could well face the same fate as the sprint. Well into the final lap and Erskine lead with Anderson, Sullivan with Holt cruising in behind them and then Keith. Over the rise Erskine battling hard with Anderson couldn’t hold off the clever Nicole Holt who CHARGED DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRACK to take the race from a gallant Danielle Erskine and close up Kylie Anderson in third place and they were followed in by Terri Sullivan and Deena Keith all riders putting up a more than entertaining crowd pleaser.
Series to – Nicole Holt 1st Kylie Anderson 2nd and Danielle Erskine 3rd.
JONESY’S WATCH THIS SPACE RIDES OF THE DAY Tom Cook B grade – Simon Pridgeon C grade – D grade Chris Atkins and the best of all Danielle Erskine pound for pound the most aggressive ride on the programme. So you next up at Mareeba.