TUNING UP FOR ANOTHER CRACK AT THE FAMOUS CROC TROPHY, BART DURAJ IN SUPERB FORM SPREADEAGLED A HANDY FIELD TO TAKE THE INAUGURAL CAIRNS CUP ON WHEELS CRITERIUM. The form Bart was in, it was questionable if star riders Simon Hubbard, Damien Ingram, Mark Hogan, Bernard Cossar-Smith and Gary Haydon could have troubled the long-time bench mark of the Far North. The above mentioned riders elected to miss the Criterium in favour of testing their climbing skills by attacking the Gillies and Tablelands prior to the National Masters titles to be held in Gippsland Victoria in a couple of weeks. However, Duraj still had to contend with U/17 State road champ Luke Azzopardi, recent Millaa Millaa road race winner in Thomas Beddome, Matt Driver and Brandon Hutton who totally cleaned up every event he rode in at the track on Saturday, plus top performers Linc Carolan and Peter Bridgewater with Peter also heading for Gippsland.
So race away through the first five laps all seven riders had their turn at the top with a genuine pace set by all, and it wasn’t until lap seven when this strong tempo took its toll on Brandon Hutton with the CAIRNS Cup on Wheels Star feeling the pinch after his outstanding efforts on the track. At this point Luke Azzopardi seized the moment and shot to a sizable lead and he held the top spot for the next five laps being monitored from about 10 seconds astern by Duraj, Bridgewater and Beddome although the remaining riders were still in the mix. Azzopardi was eventually joined by Duraj and Bridgewater who had brought the chasing group on terms with the junior State Champ. However in a daring move Azzopardi took charge putting seconds on his rivals and again was the torch bearer for the next four laps before being reeled in by Duraj, Bridgewater and Carolan. The order past the judge on the sprint lap was Bridgewater, Azzopardi, Duraj and Linc Carolan and a couple of seconds to Driver and Beddome.
Heading toward Ponzo St when most riders would be preparing to jockey into position for a crack at sprinting honours, Durable Duraj Decided to attack along way out from the Spotto St Straight and in so doing was a clear leader up the rise taking the sprint by 8 seconds from Matt Driver with Luke Azzopardi third just in front of Peter Bridgewater. From then on lap by lap Duraj started to forge away and despite a strong effort from Carolan who managed to claw back a few seconds over the laps leading to the bell IT WAS CLEAR only a mechanical was going to stop Bart. A noticeable absence in the last few laps was Luke Azzopardi, who after competing successfully at Friday’s Cyclo Cross and Saturday’s Track, found trying for a trifecta of wins too much and had withdrawn from the race.
With the bell ringing and Duraj out of sight, Carolan had been joined by Bridgewater and Beddome and the fight for the placings rested with that trio. Swinging into Spotto and up the rise Duraj coasting out in front, snuck at glance over his shoulder and cruised to the line, WOULD YOU BELIEVE nursing A FLAT TYRE he endured somewhere on the back straight. The sprint for second went to Peter Bridgewater just in advance of Thomas Beddome and Linc Carolan and Linc was followed home by Matt Driver.
It was perfect timing for Bart heading for next week’s CROC TROPHY and THE FORM HE WAS IN ON SUNDAY TELLS ALL, HE WILL BE AGAIN THE MAN TO WATCH IN HIS DIVISION.
11 competitors listened intently to Chief Commissar Richie Bates prior their 20 lap journey. This race included talented fifteen year old Townsville’s Scott Lynch plus inform regulars Kieran Harrison, Gavin Butler, Don Huyser, John Duel plus former ace BMX rider Brian Nesbit. Through the first five laps the speed of the race was at an A Grade standard due to strong efforts from Gavin Butler, Scott Lynch and Alex Starmer and not to be outdone John Duel, Brian Nesbit and Tom Cook were noticed poking their wheels to the top. However on the sixth lap Kieran Harrison assumed control in the company of Greg Hutton and Don Huyser with Harrison edging clear. The lap before the sprint Harrison led by 12 seconds from Larcombe hotly pursued by Lynch, Cook and Butler but they were no chance of catching Kieran who took the prize easily from Lynch, Nesbit, Cook and Butler. Sprint over and Harrison was reeled in this time by Starmer and Butler, but in a very even race, any of the 10 left could win, the only casualty at this point being the early retirement of David Hutton. Lap 15 and Gavin Butler was again in front from Cook, Larcombe and Duel and riding a cracking race from SOUTH OF THE BORDER was young Scott Lynch then with only two to go the Townsville lad had hit the front from a menacing Nesbit and in turn chased by Butler, Cook and Larcombe. What a race.
The order at the Bell was Brian Nesbit leading Scott Lynch, Tom Cook and Gav Butler and THE CALLER wasn’t dismissing any of the Ten as they thundered past the judge. And bunched they were as they swung into the Spotto Straight with the race caller spotting the strong frame of Rod Larcombe looming large with Harrison, Nesbit, Lynch, Starmer and Cook, six STRECHED ACROSS THE ROAD. However 100 metres out the former BMX Star Brian Nesbit started to get the upper hand and over the last few metres Nesbit went on to defeat Harrison and Lynch, fourth in was Larcombe followed by Cook and Starmer the four chasing the winner all registering the same time so close was the finish in a thrilling B grade encounter.
The biggest field this year in any grade, 21 riders over the tricky 14 laps of the Woree raceway. This race included Townsville’s Tim Rademaker who had a very good night at the Cairns Cup on Wheels plus team mate Andrew Preston and a swag of newcomers too numerous to mention, and the inclusion of Tolga Triathlete Alisha Wells, blimey where to look I heard the Caller say. With a massive field being reasonably bunched together through the early stages this report is more of a summary. Early laps and Tom Rue showed out strongly with Josh Raynor, Matt Grillo, Alan Clarke and Victor Kortlay however through the first seven laps there were many others up front doing the bullocking work and they included Warren Elliot, Cheyne Colley, Alisha Wells, Idan Piercy and Drew Burgess. Not to be out done Keith Fearon and Jason Whiteside had their turn.
A lap out from the sprint Josh Raynor had the lead narrowly from Gaby Thomasz who had snuck into the picture followed by Alisha Wells, Keith Fearon and Matt Grillo. Interesting Sprint awaiting where Matt Grillo having a good season withstood strong challenges from Tim Rademaker and Keith Fearon to win the sprint nicely from Rademaker and Fearon with Alisha Wells a strong fourth, noticeable that Gaby Thomasz our top female sprinter wasn’t interested in the scurry to the line. Sprint over and Mark Procter, Tom Rue and Alan Clarke reached the front followed through by Warren Elliot and Idan Piercy who was back in the hunt after a lap out with a mechanical.
On the ninth Chris Chastre managing the strong head wind along with Tom Rue, Alan Clarke and Mark Procter had pinched a small margin of around 8 seconds from Elliot and Colley leading the chase group. However a concerted effort by Fearon, Piercy, Raynor and Colley helped reel in the leaders. Just as the big field compacted, Chastre riding a terrific race again dashed to the front and purloined a few seconds from Fearon, Procter and Thomasz who had crossed no man’s land to be right in contention. Two laps out Chris Chastre had only 3 seconds to spare from Rue, Procter and Thomasz with a huge pack chasing. At the bell to add to the mystery of the race Raynor had swept up to lead Thomasz, Andrew Preston and Wells, where to look. However, I doubt anyone at the course would believe anyone in this grade could have a final lap time of 2.34 seconds, comparable to the fastest times in all grades but this what Thomas Rue did in a scintillating final lap, Rue rounded the field up and had them all covered over the rise and he raced away to win easily. The battle for second was a cliff hanger with Gaby Thomasz inexplicitly sitting up over the last couple of metres and being pipped for second right on the line by the fast finishing Jason Whiteside, fourth in was Chris Chastre followed by Matt Grillo.
As on my race sheets I have ten starters in this grade when in fact it was a Women’s and D grade race combined. There were some top efforts in both grades. However the day belonged to young pocket rocket Caitlyn Corset. This outstanding young lady gave the start around 100 metres due to Caitlyn having a slight health problem, and she almost didn’t ride, however ride she did, and win she did, sharing a lot of the pace once she gathered in the field with recent Asian Pacific Masters Bronze medallist James Mort. Throughout the race Caitlyn Corset, James Mort, Alicia Harris, Brooklyn Reithmuller, and Kyle Gibbs dominated from the front, Brenton Koch was never far away and young Townsville lad Harrison Preston was also in the mix.
The sprint belonged to Townsville, Caitlyn Corset comfortably over Alicia Harris, third was James Mort just in front of the Townsville duo of Brook Reithmuller and youngster KYLE Gibbs. As the race progressed both Alicia Harris and Caitlyn Corset continued to control from the front and only on occasions did James Mort and YOUNG Kyle Gibbs look any chance of unsettling the Townsville visitors. At the bell (if only you could bet in the running) because although it was a lap out Corset and Harris were looking unstoppable. Into Spotto and up the rise and after brilliant night at the track on Saturday, Caitlyn Corset shrugging off any sings of ill health drew way to defeat Alicia Harris with James Mort third just in advance of Kyle Gibbs. Caitlyn’s win capped off fabulous weekend for the talented youngster and we will watch with interest as her career as a cyclist progresses.
The breakdown of the two races were Women – Caitlyn Corset 1st in 41.31.9 Alicia Harris 2nd 41.33.5 and Marion Brown 3rd in 41.41 and whilst Marion may not have been prominent early she put a good effort to finish third in the women’s event.
D grade – James Mort 1st in 41.38.15 – Kyle Gibbs 2nd in 41.38.31 and Brenton Koch 3rd in 41.38.8
A tough report to write two races in one but all the honours were with Caitlyn Corset.
A massive shout to our tireless volunteers especially Mundi and Glenys who have worked tirelessly all weekend, add to that Kim and Sue with the later saving my voice having lost it Saturday night with her magic ALYXIR which got me through the Snake Gully Show on Sunday afternoon.