BEAUTIFUL ONE DAY PERFECT THE NEXT, THAT WAS THE CATCH CRY OF THE QUEENSLAND COMMONWEALTH GAMES. HOWEVER, THE BETTER THAN PERFECT WEATHER, AND THE SUPERB HOSPITALITY OF THE MALANDA STATE SCHOOL (THANKS MARK ALLEN) PAVED THE WAY FOR FABULOUS RACING THROUGH THE ROLLING HILLS IN THIS PICTURESQUE VILLAGE ON THE TABLELANDS.
There may have been only eight starters in the A grade event, however it threw one of the best races this season, with no-nonsense Damien Ingram leading the way through the township and immediately putting up a healthy margin on the first of 5 laps over the 14 kilometre course. Damien drove out to around an 80 metre lead early before the bunch led by Kieran Mouldey caught him by Anderson Rd, however Ingram had set the scene for a tough road race, the first race in a year at the testing Malanda course. Ingram again back in front up the Anderson Rd hill chased by Brendon Skerke, Luke Azzorpardi and Matt Driver however all riding strongly. Topping the brutal Peeramon hill Mat Driver briefly took control, however into English Rd and again it was Ingram out in front with Bernard Cossar–Smith, Mouldey, Skerke, Brandon Hutton, Azzorpardi, Driver and Peter Bridgewater all waiting to see who would take the field up to the aggressive Ingram.
Through Malanda for the second time and Bernard Cossar-Smith was in charge until Ingram went again and pinched 14 seconds on Matt Driver and Luke Azzopardi. Second lap highlights included young Rider Luke Azzopardi looking good topping the Peeramon Hill in front, the excellent bike handling of Brendon Skerke dodging a difficult to see pot hole, Matt Driver regaining the form that saw him win the race a year ago and the strong riding of Kieran Mouldey and Bernard Cossar–Smith.
Through the second lap and Champion Track Rider Brandon Hutton had dropped out of contention and Lap three also had Bren Skerke and Peter Bridgewater in trouble so with two laps to go on the fourth, Azzopardi led through the town followed by Matt Driver, Cossar –Smith, Mouldey ,and Ingram having a well-earned spell at the back, and the race was now in that group. Kieran Mouldey speared to the lead until Ingram pegged him back. Into English street on this lap Mouldey led from Ingram, Cossarr-Smth, Driver and Azzopardi now all five in contention working well. So past the school at the bell it was Cossar-Smith from Ingram, Mouldey, Azzopardi and Driver anyone of the five in a thriller.
Cossar- Smith shot to a fifty metre lead on the lake Eacham road over Driver only to see Ingram reel them in. Off Anderson and into English Rd Driver although showing signs of tiring along Anderson Rd had taken a narrow lead from Mouldey and Ingram with Azzopardi and Cossar-Smith smoking on behind them, down passed the Sewerage plant Mouldey now in front and Driver slowly losing ground it was now a four man race. Over the bridge and up the hill for the run in and Damien Ingram went yet again to the front and on straightening had the lead, only following Damien through was Luke Azzopardi, his second only ride in this grade and not to be denied fighting hard Cossar-Smith still looked a hope, but it was Ingram desperately trying to ward off the young Azzopardi who looked home and it was only in the last few metres that the newest addition to the A Grade ranks Luke pulled off a brilliant win over one of the best in the business in Ingram and Close up in third another placing to Bernard Cossar-Smith and he was followed home by Kieran Mouldey and Matt Driver in a great return to cycling on the tablelands.
This grade again over the tough 5 laps, had recent C Grade winner John Duel up a grade as well as Russell Eustace, also Daniel Bakurski who ran away with the C Grade criterium last week plus the inform Ken Dyson and newcomer Adam Roberts. They had to contend with up and coming youngster Kane Hodge and last week’s runaway winner in the B grade Crit Scott Beaven, noted climber Nathan Bursztynowicz and ever reliable Kathryn Deed in a quality line-up. Lap one and early, Kane Hodge and Scott Beaven showed they meant business by setting a more than solid pace, and sweeping past the judge at the end of the first lap Scott Beaven and Kane hodge had broken out to a 50 metre lead followed by Ken Dyson and Adam Roberts and another gap back to Kath Deed and Nathan Bursztynowicz leading the rest. Through the next lap Kane Hodge had a slight margin over Scott Beaven followed by Ken Dyson and John Duel however the rest reasonably bunched.
However into Anderson Rd and heading for Peeramon Hill on lap 3, Beaven and Hodge had slipped away, and passing the judge at the commencement of the fourth lap they had a 60 sec lead in front of Daniel Bakurski, Ken Dyson and Nathan Bursztynowicz. Then with Beaven and Hodge putting up a clinic of on pace riding, disaster struck on this lap just prior the bell with a mechanical that put paid to Kane’s race, it was a shame as the young rider was matching it with Scott showing he was thriving in the hills. Then if there was danger to Beaven it may have been Nathan Bursztynowicz however he had succumbed to a stich or body mechanical and that certainly didn’t help Nathan’s chances.
On the bell Beaven’s lead had now increased to two minutes from a battling Bursztynowicz, Bakurski and Dyson, with a gap back to John Duel, Adam Roberts and Kath Deed and a further break to Russell Eustace. However throughout the final lap Beaven was careering away, and over bridge and up into the straight Scott Beaven went on to record a dashing 3 minute victory over Ken Dyson with third going to Nathan Bursztynowicz they were followed in by Daniel Bakurski and Kath Deed. In an eventful race on the testing circuit, but all honours to Scott Beaven who is riding in superb form.
A field of twelve faced commissar Richie Bates in a grade that is fast becoming division popular, this race having a mix of track riders such as Gary Perkins, Greg Hutton, Al Hodge and track Queen herself Gaby Thomasz whose recent “flat” form has been exemplary (however OH them hills) add to that relative newcomers Alan Clarke, Frederic Boin, Jason Whiteside, Mark Knowles and Matthew Grillo and regular lads Andrew Mills and Paul Mitchell and a big welcome back to the fold, our own secretary Julie Scharf and you had the ingredients of a fascinating race.
Away on their 3 lap journey, and picking up the race after the first lap we had Frederick Boin a recently arrived European rider sporting stand out white colours leading the way from Matt Grillo a little gap to Paul Mitchell most of the rest together, and at the rear were Julie Scharf and Gary Perkins. During the 2nd lap strong work from Matt Grillo, James Whiteside, Fred Boin and Al Hodge were keeping the pack moving however at this point Gary Perkins and Julie Scharf were dropping of the back but the rest were reasonably in touch as they sped to the Bell with James Whiteside zipping to a 50 metre lead over Alan Clarke and Andrew Mills.
Into the final lap it was noticed having a cushy run was Greg Hutton looking strong and he along with Al Hodge and Paul Mitchell were the riders who appeared to have something to give. So it was anyone’s guess as they swung through the village and out on the Lake Eacham road for the last time where Frederick Boin broke away and was really looking the goods, however Boin was gathered in by the final hill and now it was race on as they swept past the sewerage plant and on toward the bridge and home. Al Hodge had hit the front near the bridge however his momentum was stopped by the emergence of a bus slowing the leaders down and Al chances were then dashed, Greg Hutton then seized the moment going for home early and looking the winner until the WHITE FLASH WITH PANACHE – FRED BOIN was upside in the drive to the line and nabbed Hutton right on the wire, third in was Paul Mitchell showing he has his foot right on the till with an improved performance, Paul was followed home by Matt Grillo and Mark Knowles in a very entertaining C Grade Clash.
I’m not sure whether Michael Etherington scared away the competitors in this grade after his string of recent successes, but Michael had only two rivals to contend with over their 42 kilometre race. They were popular table lander Al Marcic and having his first ride for the club Stan Andrews. Not much to report here, after the first lap Michael Etherington led from Stan Matthews and fifty metres awa
y was Al Marcic and after that Michael just keep on increasing his lead from Al and Stan who were both in need of the hit out and couldn’t match it with the inform Etherington and that was it, Michael Etherington ended up winning by around five minutes from Al with Stan calling it a day on the final lap. Michael now wants a deserved crack up the grade after his fourth win in a row.
What a glorious day for racing, many many thanks to all our volunteers and a massive shout out to James Mort who had to put up with me in the A Grade support vehicle. However I am filthy at him, half way through the final lap I gave him 5/1 about Luke winning the race fortunately I only let him on for a dollar. And THANKS Sue and Julie for all the race notes I needed for my final report.
Until next time,
featured Tablelands image credit: Birgit Ariane Machnitzke