LATE RAIN THROUGH THE LATTER STAGES OF THE CLUB CRITERIUM CHAMPIONSHIPS AT WOREE PLAYED HAVOC WITH THE TWO GRADES ON THE ROAD A and C, and SAW THE CANCELLATION OF B, D and THE WOMENS RACE. The top division had the added interest of holidaying BELGIUM RIDER Gaetan Marion, whilst the C GRADE event with 28 riders had the biggest field in any division for a number of years, and threw up the first Dead Heat that most can remember. Only two races run however despite the rain, two marvellous contests.
Ten riders away in the A’s with Linc Carolan passing the judge for the first time leading Gary Haydon Bart Duraj and Peter Bridgewater. The pace only steady until Tobia Kipper pinched a slender lead from Thomas Beddome, Haydon and Brendon Skerke. On the fourth lap Gaetan Marion whipped to the front with all pursuing riders now aware the holiday maker had plenty of talent, and the Belgium cyclist held that spot until reeled in by Haydon and Bridgewater. Shortly after Mark Hogan, Kipper and Duraj worked to the lead with Kipper again on top through the seventh a lap out from the sprint. The rest of the field were in close proximity including the only rider at this point not to be mentioned Kieran Mouldey, and he was about to launch from seventh wheel, and launch he did with a sparkling turn of foot raced to the front and held this spot to record an excellent sprint win from Linc Carolan and Gary Haydon.
Sprint gone and through the tenth Duraj led Hogan and Beddome with Thomas Beddome taking control and leading the way for the next two laps until he was joined at the top end by Marion and the pair put 10 seconds on Kipper, Hogan and Haydon. Marion then started to apply more pressure this time having an effect on the South Australian Beddome, who then drifted back through the field. On the fourteenth lap Bart Duraj had crossed onto Marion’s wheel and in the twinkling of an eye they put 9 seconds on Kipper and Mouldey. The Rain had increased through this lap, seeing Brendon Skerke, Peter Bridgewater and Tobia Kipper opting for the safety of preserving machine and limb for another day as they pulled out of the race. Three laps out Marion and Duraj now had 16 seconds from Carolan, Hogan, Haydon and Mouldey and they were being trailed by Beddome while now out of contention was still boxing on.
With two to go it now appeared to be a match race between the Belgium rider Marion and the very inform local Champ Duraj. At this point the caller was heard to remark that the body language of Gaetan Marion revealed he was working overtime to stay with the ASTUTE TEAM CAPTAIN. With the SOUND of the BELL audible despite persistent rain, Duraj had drawn to a clear lead from Marion with Hogan and Carolan 22 seconds astern however still in contention. Swinging into the back straight Bart Duraj started to edge away, and into the Spotto Straight Duraj had the race well in his keeping riding away to a comfortable victory from the talented Gaetan Marion with Linc Carolan making up a tremendous amount of ground to finish only a couple of seconds behind the second placegetter with Mark Hogan close up in fourth place. They were followed in by Kieran Mouldey, Gary Haydon and Thomas Beddome in a race run in very difficult conditions, however all honours to Bart who is capping off another terrific season and now appears to have a mortgage on the final race of the season The COPPERLODE Cup.
A RECORD Twenty Eight riders faced commissaire Richie Bates for his pre-race instructions. This entertaining grade has been recently boosted by the addition of a team of mates known as THE AIRPORT CREW, and adorned in their striking red colours, they are forming a pretty formidable bunch with such members as regulars Idan Piercy, Demian Bullock and Damien Smith joined by reasonably newcomers to the Cairns Cycling Club in Nick Massaso, Warren Elliot, Jeremy Wienert and Keith Mole. And to really cap off a CALLERS NIGHTMARE add Mareeba’s Victor Kortlang to the list as well as the comeback kid Scotty Carson, and only having his third ride with the club Thomas Rue. Wow WHAT A RACE WHAT A FIELD. Away and through the first lap the easy to spot Mark Procter in his iridescent green outfit led the way from Russell Eustace, Victor Kortlang, Alan Clarke and Jason Whiteside. The big field was generating a lot of speed and understandably stringing the large field out. Over the next four laps leading up to the sprint, riders at the top or prominent were Victor Kortlang, Scott Carson, Jason Smith, Idan Piercy and Jason Whiteside and they were joined a little later by Thomas Rue, Steven Davies and Paul Mitchell. Up to this point riders sitting quietly out the back were Jeremy Wienert, Drew Burgess, Mick Mehonoshen, James Mort and Mark Knowles. Riders not mentioned through these lap were comfortably tucked away midfield including our only woman in the race perennial placegetter Gaby Thomasz, who was riding without a transponder however with her distinctive outfit Gaby was easy to spot.
The order with the whistle sounding the sprint lap was Rue leading Kortlang, Davies, Jason Smith, Andrew Mills and edging a bit closer Keith Mole and to make it interesting light rain started to fall. Topping the rise with riders spread across the track. The course commentator desperately looking for riders he knew quickly realised the two lads striking the front were from the AIRPORT CREW, Wienert who had made up a lot of ground and Mole and they had Davies for company, and in a driving go the wire Jeremy Wienert just had the better of Keith Mole with Steven Davies close up in third place followed in by Mark Knowles. With the sprint over the race immediately changed complexion with another of the AIRPORT MOB Warren Elliot joining his teammate Wienert with Carson and Davies on their wheel. Then Mark Procter again led the way from Rue, Mills and making his way toward the leading bunch emerged yet another CREW member the flying VET Demian Bullock. Any book maker worth his salt would lay 10/1 the field the race was so open.
Three laps to go this time James Mort – the South Pacific Masters Games bronze medallist – swept to the top with Andrew Mills on his wheel. James looking over the shoulder for support to go found no takers, as there was preservation on most minds. This effort from Mort took the wind out of the sails of the former SYDNEY TO HOBART YACHTSMAN and James drifted out of contention. Two out and only 2 seconds separated the top two Jason Smith and Idan Piercy from Mark Procter and Jeremy Wienert who were in 21st and 22nd positions respectively. Absolutely anyone’s race and at the bell the top order was Rue, Davies, Piercy, Kortlang, Carson and Mills. However heading for the PONZO back straight IN heavy rain Thomas Rue, Steven Davies, Idan Piercy weren’t aware that crack Sprinter David Hutton had started out after the three leaders with Gaby Thomasz trying to latch onto Hutton’s wheel however with a big track season in front of her and the conditions less than average the track star opted out of the forthcoming charge to Spotto Street, passing Gaby, Demian Bullock was also looming as a podium threat as the big field turned into the Straight, however David Hutton going for back to back Criterium wins was looking ominous as he topped rise clear of Steven Davies and Thomas Rue with the commentator calling Hutton clear and looking the winner with Rue charging late. Rue was inch by inch drawing alongside Hutton as the pair flashed across the line locked together. The crowd was completely divided as who had won and when the Kim Butler announced both riders hit the line with race timing of 36.03.235 the race was declared a DEAD HEAT between Thomas Rue and David Hutton in the best finish in any grade this year, or any year for that matter. Third was Mareeba rider Victor Kortlang with Demian Bullock first in for the Airport Crew in fourth place and Demian was followed home by Andrew Mills.
Credit to all riders in both grades for staying upright in rotten conditions and a big shout to RICHIE BATES making the correct decision in shortening the races, therefore avoiding any incidents.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO BRAMSTON IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS FOR THE CLUB ROAD RACE CHAMPIONSHIPS. See you down there.