Despite the fact that CP Racing’s skipper Damien (The Creature) Ingram was absent nursing post-Amateurs and Salthouse self-inflicted blues, the very strong remainder of the team took out the trifecta with Mark Bamford consolidating his commanding lead in the third leg of the MiHaven Criterium Series. Skipping through the first lap Thomas Rue led out from Bernard Cossar- Smith, Gary Haydon, Brendon Skerke and a new comer to the Cairns club Innisfail’s Josh Davies, having just joined the crew at the Innisfail Advocate. Always good to have the media entrenched in our riding ranks. Race away With all riders in close contact, however this changed through the second lap with Tobia Kipper striking the top and pinching a ten second break in which he held through the next couple with Gary Haydon out after him.
Haydon joined Kipper with the always attentive Mark Bamford bridging the gap. Next it was Simon Hubbard quickly storming to the front and he slipped to a seven second break. Speed heating up through the sixth with Bamford being joined by Rue and Davies however at this early stage all in contention including recent addition to the Cairns riding ranks Adrian Cartilage. The next couple of laps saw Kipper again assume control getting out to a seven second advantage before being reeled in by Gary Haydon. Through the ninth Bamford, Rue, Haydon and Kipper had a small break over Cossar –Smith with a similar break to Carolan, Hubbard, Cartlidge, Brian Nesbit, Skerke and Davies and it was during this lap that the race suffered its first casualty with Josh Davies breaking a spoke and retiring from the race. Whistle sounding for the sprint lap and Rue led a bunch of six as the group headed for Ponzo Street. All eyes glued to the Spotto Street rise and run in for the sprint, Mark Bamford HAD CAUGHT THE CALLERS attention before he spotted the pale blue colours of Thomas Rue powering down the centre of the road to take the sprint comfortably from Bamford, Hubbard and Kipper.
Race on as Bamford and Haydon had a narrow lead over Kipper, Rue and Hubbard and that bunch had left Cossar-Smith on his own and dropping out of reach of the leaders were Carolan, Nesbit, Cartlidge and Skerke. Shortly after this lap Bernard Cossar –Smith called it a day, not sure what caused the ever reliable Bernard to retire as we know he is heading to the National Masters in a couple of weeks. The race was now a race of five. Heading toward the final three laps Tobia Kipper and Thomas Rue were putting in a mighty performance against the STRENGTH of CP. HOWEVER AS THEY PASSED the 3 lap mark THE STRAIN of taking the sprint was starting to show as Rue was just starting to drop out of contention. Leaving Kipper alone to perhaps spoil the CP PARTY. On to the bell Bamford led Kipper sucking in the Oxygen to stay with Hubbard and Mr ever green Haydon. Swinging into the final straight Bamford and Hubbard had slight advantage over Haydon with Kipper only JUST wilting over the concluding stages, as Bamford and Hubbard drew away to fight out the race. Having had no luck in the Green Hill classic the week before the super consistent Mark Bamford held sway over Simon Hubbard with Gary Haydon third followed in by Tobia Kipper and Thomas Rue. This now gives Mark a very comfortable lead heading for the final of the series in a few weeks’ time.
A very evenly matched group of nine riders went through the early laps at a very generous clip. Prominent were Jon Bodsworth, Greg Hutton, Scott Beaven, John Thompson and Alex Starmer although all nine were doing their share. The pace eased through the 4th and fifth lap with the only real surprise at this point was the conservative approach from Gavin Butler sitting quietly off the back. So all nine with only a few metres separating first from last entered lap six, this is when disaster struck John Thompson and Alex Starmer both riders travelling strongly came to grief on a hair pin corner just out of the SPOTTO STRAIGHT, Thommo either taking the corner a little sharply or having a problem with his front forks crashed heavily, and Alex having nowhere to go could do nothing to avoid John, so two of the fancied riders were out of the race, fortunately no serious injury to either rider. So seven riders were left to contest the sprint. With the exception of Gavin Butler six of the seven, are OR were very strong track riders. So it was anyone’s’ guess WHO would take sprinting honours and it was no surprise that the inform track Specialist Josh Raynor, should single out to vie for the cash with former track champs Scott Beaven and Grahame Allen both looming as threats, however it was Raynor drawing away to hold off Beaven and Allen taking the prize by a little over a bike length, fourth place to Jon Bodsworth. Sprint gone and choosing the moment, the inevitable attack from Gavin Butler arrived, and he quickly put up a 22 second gap on the field and maintained this lead through the next five laps although with 3 to gap Gavin’s lead had been whittled to eleven seconds.
Whilst there didn’t appear to be ruffled feathers in the chase group. there must have been some anxious moments as Steven Davies had worked his way to the second place and appeared to be marshalling the troops to reel the tear away in, and with two laps to go Butler led Davies by 5 seconds with Raynor, Allen and Hutton next, all in challenging positions, however on this lap Jon Bodsworth having put up a bold performance had his hopes dashed with a mechanical. All riders were back together at the bell although Butler still led towards Ponzo. I’m NOT SURE Davies and Raynor had designed a pre-race plan or not, as Steve Davies went to front in the back Straight with Josh Raynor smack on his wheel. So swinging into Spotto for the last time Josh Raynor flew out of Davies slip stream and catapulted to the lead and started to forge away with Greg Hutton out after him. Topping the rise Raynor staring his first ever Criterium win in the face was holding Hutton and to the cheers of the Raynor FAN CLUB went on to defeat Greg Hutton by a couple of bike lengths next in Grahame Allen followed by Gavin Butler and Steve Davies.
The Biggest field of the day 16 in total rode in conservative fashion through the first 3 laps with only Matt Driver recently back from a severe injury giving promise of an early attack, also prominent early were Alan Clarke, Oliver Wacek, Gary Perkins and Mark Smedts although not much separated 1st from 16th. A little later Mark Procter AND Tour of Tropics winner James Coat poked their wheels to the top. Snuggled away riding strongly were Alisha Wells, James Mort and Idan Piercy. Sprinting from back in the field Michael Reid tried to sneak a break only quickly pegged back by Gary (I made it to Cardwell PERKINS) referring to Gary’s recent effort in the Port Douglas to Ayers Rock race. Next to break the dead lock was Don Huyser rolling to the top with Matt Driver. The race was compact but chock full of interest. So the SWING into Spotto for the sprint was anyone’s’ guess as riders were fanned all over the track and just when James Mort (the race sponsor) looked home, out of nowhere came the series leader Damien Newton to clear out from Mort with Alisha Wells and Russell Eustace close behind.
Sprint gone AND Others not far off the pace included Michael Keetman, Jon Wells keeping close tabs of the whereabouts of daughter Alisha and Alan Clarke, so at this point anyone could win. Shortly after Matt Driver led the way from James Mort, Alisha Wells, James Coat and Jon Wells with sprint winner Damien Newton taking a well-earned breather. Awfully messy through the next lap, when firstly the lead A GRADE GROUP SHOT PASSED, THEN THE BACK HALF OF THE A’s WENT THROUGH, RIDERS EVERYWHERE. THEN THE WILY Mark Smedts seized the opportunity with all the confusion and took the lead. Pace was now solid with Michael Reid and Gary Perkins dropping out of contention. Three left this time Idan Piercy became the lamp lighter with a massive chase group in pursuit.
Two left and the bright RED colours of Hardman Huyser stuck the front followed through by Alisha Wells continuing her terrific form that saw Alisha take third spot in the u/19 state road champs. The BELL and Michael Keetman took control however right on his wheel SAT Matt Driver, Russell Eustace and Alisha wells but all 14 left WERE in with a fighting chance. Out of view one could only guess what was happening down the Ponzo back straight. So into the straight they emerged like the charge of the Light Brigade with talented youngster Alisha Wells looking very much the likely winner until challenged by Damien Newton when, as he had done with the sprint coming home from off the pace, the race favourite came over the top to eclipse Alisha just prior the line with Don Huyser third striking some of his best form this season, fourth in Russell Eustace another getting back to something like his best. A great race with the flashing light belonging to Alisha Wells.
Well what can you say here, three riders JARED Desmares, Michael Etherington series leader and Chris Atkins rolled off together, and that’s where they stayed until the sprint lap where the fireworks began? And there wasn’t much between them over the rise with DESMARES and ETHERINGTON drawing away from Atkins over the concluding stages, with Michael Etherington narrowly holding out Jared Desmares with Chris Atkins well back in third spot. However the way Michael and Jared fought out a tough couple of hundred metres the commentator was heard to say “this could well fall into the hands of Chris Atkins conserving energy by playing no part in the sprint”.
And so it came to pass that Chris joined Jared and Michael and the trio resumed their role to the final lap with their cat and tactics continuing right up to the final sprint. Where the first time in a long while the caller got it right Chris Atkins coming off the wheels of Jared Desmares and Michael Etherington finished off too strongly therefore taking, like Josh Rayner his first criterium victory.
Series Leader Melissa Green had four rivals to contend with. Gerna Thompson, Danielle Erskine, Terri Sullivan and Renown Trackie Nicole Holt, making the event a small but competitive race. The inclusion of relative newcomer Gerna Thompson added spice to the Women’s event. Gerna being the third member of the Thompson family to join the CAIRNS CYCLING CLUB along with husband John and daughter VERITY a very promising junior track rider. Women away and The five rode at a more than reasonable clip however all keeping close together through the early stages and this didn’t change much heading toward the sprint lap with Melissa Green not afraid to do a lot of the bullocking work along with Danielle Erskine and Gerda Thompson although still well in contention at this point were Nicole Holt and Terri Sullivan. The sprint over the rise showed why Melissa is the current MI HAVEN leader she proved too strong for GERNA with Nicole Holt third followed by Danielle and Terri. However the sprint FOUND that Nicole just a little under done, virtually called it a day leaving four only to complete the course. Melissa riding very strongly still had Danielle and Gerna close on her wheel with Terri just off the trio in front. Last Lap and Melissa Green doing everything right was always going to be the one to beat, and try as they might Gerna and Danielle although putting up a solid performances weren’t able to make an impression over rise and Melissa went on for a comfortable win over Danielle and Gerna with Terri Sullivan not all that far away fourth.
JONESY’S RIDES OF THE DAY or WATCH THIS SPACE,
A’s TOBIA KIPPER B’s STEVEN DAVIES C’s ALISHA WELLS D’s JARED DEMARES, W’s GERNA THOMPSON. Overall ride of the day TOBIA KIPPER.
A MILLON THANKS TO KIM BUTLER and GLENYS HUYSER for without their help NO REPORT.