PAUL MASHFORD AND SIMON HUBBARD SINGLED OUT over the Spotto Street Rise to fight out an Epic A Grade Criterium at the Woree Circuit on Sunday, with Mashford in front and Hubbard inch by inch pegging him back Paul Mashford shook off the last second lunge by Simon to narrowly claim victory in a thrilling finish, with Damien Ingram close up in Third spot.

13 of Cairns finest cyclists faced the starter RICHIE BATES, including the return to the circuit of the Deputy Chair of CYCLING AUSTRALIA Duncan Murray in his first Cairns Race since competing in Last year’s Famous Melbourne to Warrnambool bike race.

 Tyson Sundman led the field away with Andrew Harper and Simon Hubbard on his wheel and the large crowd were to witness a classic contest. Through the second lap and it WAS Duncan Murray himself who took up the role as lamp lighter with Michael Haseldine, Paul Mashford and GT Gavin Taylor another quality rider returning to the circuit, right on Duncan’s hammer.

The next few laps saw Tyson Sundman, Hubbard, Shane Gelling and Damien Ingram bright in his potential Cairns Kit Livery insuring a genuine pace.

The fifth lap the play maker Gary Haydon reached the front with A grade Newcomer Andrew Harper, and the pair stole a minor break until Andrew wisely chose to let the wily veteran go leaving Gavin Taylor taking up the role to reel Haydon in. Next to crank it up was another of the A Grade newcomers Tobia Kipper and never far away was Damien Ingram and Paul Mashford. A COUPLE OF LAPS OFF THE SPRINT Mashford rolled the lead with Ingram, Hubbard, Murray and Sundman.

Disappearing toward Ponzo St on the sprint lap Tobia Kipper set off like a greyhound out of the box and slipped to the lead however down the back the master of the surge Gary Haydon swept to the front and it was (GOOD BYE SAID THE FOX) with the gap to Haydon unbridgeable Mashford shot from 4th wheel to gain a sizable advantage on the rest of the field with Ingram the only one to sense danger of a counter attack. As it turned out Mashy was unaware that Haydon was up the road and he thought he was going for the prime. So the counter attack amounted to nothing and with the group back together Gary careered away to easily win the sprint from Paul Mashford, Damien Ingram, Simon Hubbard and Duncan Murray.

Sprint over and it was Michael Haseldine on his first ride in the new season taking charge albeit short lived as Haydon, Ingram, Hubbard and Shane Gelling were poised to pounce. Laps 12 and 13 Haydon once again dominated the front until the irrepressible Andrew Harper indicating (heh don’t forget me) took over with Tobia Kipper and Haydon close behind. Lap 15 saw another change to this intriguing BATTLE with THE CREATURE emerging to shake up the field, Damien Ingram upped the lap speed to around 2. 31 and led the next two laps until Gavin Taylor and the unshakable Haydon raced again to the lead. 3 to go Haydon led Sundman, Gelling and Haseldine (who would crack.) So it was your turn my turn as (The Boss) Duncan Murray was back in business before being stymied by an untimely gear change that could have resulted in a disaster in front of the ever anticipating crowd, only his SAGAN-esque bike skills kept him upright yet left him ruing what might have been as Ingram, Hubbard and Peter Bridgewater swept past.

One lap to go and the only rider appearing out of contention was Brendon Skerke who by his own admission was in need of the hit out, however Brendon was still within Cooee of the leading pack who in order past the Judge’s box were Taylor, Murray, Ingram, Hubbard, Gelling and Paul Mashford AND everyone else still in contention. However after a blistering final lap Mashford swinging into the straight had drawn to the lead WITH Hubbard on his wheel followed by Ingram, and as in the opening sentences of the report Paul Mashford head down and flying had to contend with the self-motivating Hubbard urging himself (ala Leyton Hewitt) TO LEVEL UP with Paul, however all the COME ON’S didn’t work and in a photo finish Mashford went on to score a much deserved win from Simon Hubbard and Damien Ingram. Fourth over line was Andrew Harper followed by Shane Gelling and Tyson Sundman then Gary Haydon taking the most aggressive rider and the plaudits of the crowd for sheer entertainment?

B Grade.

Very early on Gavin Butler, Kieran Mouldey and Fiona Yard led out a hot field of TWENTY riders in largest gathering in this division for some time. Fiona like Duncan Murray having her first Criterium in her home town since her magnificent win in the Melbourne to Warrnambool bike race, added to the quality of the race. Also prominent through the initial laps were Mal Lindsay, Oliver Wacek, Don Huyser, Neil Gregory and NEW COMER to the circuit Paul Thuesen.

Fiona Yard rolling along at good clip was joined and headed by Gavin Butler who pinched a small break to Cody Haseldine, Fiona, Neil Gregory and Mark Smedts. However the above mentioned were quick to shut him down. On their sixth lap Don Huyser made the lead as the division swept passed the D Grade group, and it was noticed here that Jamie Holman, new bike and Foot wear was moving into the leading bunch as the twenty riders prepared for the coveted SPRINT POINTS.

Two more riders moved into sprint contention in the form of Mick Mehonoshon and young Korean Rider Youbin (just call me Joe) JO. Any of eight were all possibles for sprint honours however over the Spotto Rise it was Kieran Mouldey, Jamie Holman and Cody Haseldine that edged their way to the top spot and Holman held sway over Mouldey and Haseldine followed by Joe, Yard, Thuesen and Mehonoshon. Sprint over Shawn Garraway and Liam McDonald having ridden conservative to this point were edging into prominent positions.

Laps 10 through 12 had Paul Thuesen striking the front with Don Huyser, Shawn Garraway, Grahame Allen, Fiona Yard and Neil Gregory right on Paul’s wheels and a huge bunch behind them. The sprint certainly drew the legs out of a couple of riders the AFFORBALE Townsville track star Steven Lane and Joe who had disobeyed some words of wisdom from Oliver Wacek advising Joe he should on this occasion just roll with the bunch, however as Joe dropped off the back the crowd loved his enthusiasm and applauded Joe lap after lap knowing the HIT OUT will see vast improvement.

Rolling on toward the serious last 3 laps there were the odd flash of colour from Gavin Butler, Rod Miller and Mal Lindsay who after a puncture was now back in business. One lap prior the final three the leading order was now Mal Lindsay, Fiona Yard, Gavin Butler, Paul Thuesen and Liam Mcdonald however, any of fifteen could still win. Two laps out it was Lindsay, Yard, Huyser and Hasedine. Sweeping past the judge’s box for the bell the field now JAM PACKED with Jamie Holman in a great spot to secure the double HOTLY PURSUED BY Thuesen, Felix Graf, Neil Gregory and Mal Lindsay and there were more, too many to fit on the page WHAT A RACE. In that group was Rod Larcombe content to be there for fitness and Shawn Garraway looking very comfortable.

Now all necks were straining to see who would lead into Spotto. Over the rise the commentator called Holman leads from Garraway, McDonald and Thuesen but bursting to the front Shawn Garraway always promising atop podium spot, rode away for a convincing victory from Jamie Holman and close up third going to Liam McDonald, they were followed home by Paul Thuesen, Neil Gregory, Felix Graf and Fiona Yard in what only can be described as the BEST RACE IN THIS DIVISION FOR YEARS a fabulous contest.

C Grade

Keeping the trend alive a strong field of seventeen set off on their journey with Ethan Chamberlain, Tom Cook, Scott Carson and Gary Perkins bouncing out of the blocks to lead through the 1st lap. The tempo even, saw many riders doing their share on the front including Paul Mitchell, Kane Hodge, Emma Simpson, Alex Hall and Mel Pride. That group in turn were on occasions joined at the top by Gaby Thomasz, Al Hodge, Damien Newton, Marc Proctor and Graham Jensen who had to borrow the bike of Fiona Yard when officials ruled his bike ineligible through an issue with his disc brakes (Still not a bad bike to borrow.)

So a very evenly match field headed for the sprint lap with Paul Mitchell on top with Mark Procter and Alex Hall on his wheel however to use a well-worn term ( you could throw a blanket over the entire field). Into Spotto and riders all over the shop two of the youngest in the field were locked in battle, Ethan Chamberlain in front and Kane Hodge in hot pursuit and as in A GRADE the camera was needed to separate the pair with Ethan just getting the nod in advance of Kane, third over the line went to Grahame Jensen in advance of Gary Perkins who had indeed derived benefit from his night on the track last Wednesday.

Sprint gone Grahame Jensen hit the front to be quickly joined by Tom Cook and Mel Pride  the next couple of laps leading up to the final three Mark Procter, Al Hodge, Kath Deed and Paul Mitchell were also moving into contention. Two laps left and the order passing the Judge had Mark Procter leading, Ethan Chamberlain, Grahame Jensen, Paul Mitchell and Scott Carson however the winning hopes didn’t end there. With the probable exception of James Mort who was well in arrears as the commentator blurred (and back in last spot SMOKING THE CHERRYWOOD* is James Mort). (Meaning at bottom of full report).

Final lap and Al Hodge edged to the lead (was he to be the lead out man for son Kane). Al was followed by Emma Simpson riding one heck of a good race and on Emma’s wheel were Paul Mitchell, Ethan Chamberlain and Damien Newton. So as the field excited toward Ponzo St there were many discussion on who should win. However, in back of many minds the riding ability of Tom Cook came quickly to the fore. Tom, the older brother of Quality Pro rider Ivan, always jumps on the bike to work with his brother when back in Cairns for break and we know Tom can ride. And ride he did, sweeping up the rise Tom Cook riding with an air of confidence hit the front and held off the challenge of Kane Hodge to take the points in third spot Damien Newton and he was chased home by Al Hodge, Gaby Thomasz and Emma Simpson.

D grade and Women 

With only three women electing to ride in this division and six men in the D grade group the decision was made to combine the race, making a field of nine. However they would still be racing for honours in their own division. Michael Etherington shared the early speed with Andrew Mills, Jeff Hartley and Adam Dunn whilst Klaire Marcic, Jamie Thurtell and Julie Scharf were never going to be far away.  The race had the added interest of Father and Daughter Al Marcic joining Klaire on the same circuit with one wag commenting (be nice to him Klaire).

Jeff Hartley on route to Auckland for the World Masters was always going to pedal at the rate needed to tune up for the April feature. So sticking with him would be no easy task. However Damien Smith, Andrew Mills, Adam Dunn, Al Marcic, Michael Etherington and the trio of Girl Power were up for the task. Damien Smith in particular was matching it with Hartley as was Etherington and there was at this point no shaking off Scharf, Thurtell or Klaire Marcic.

The sprint went to Adam Dunn who took the points from Michael Etherington and Jeff Hartley. The Sprint for women to Klaire Marcic. Sprint over Adam Dunn, Hartley and Smith pinched a small break over Andrew Mills with Julie Scharf heading up the women. Three laps out Smith and Hartley went for broke and opened up a seven second break over Adam Dunn and six more seconds away to Klaire Marcic and another six to Andrew Mills. Hartley and Smith had pinched an unassailable break which had now blossomed out to 29 seconds.

At the bell Damien Smith led the Pink Pensioner or Doc Hollywood as Jeff is fondly known by a very narrow margin followed by a big gap to Andrew Mills and Marcic (daughter that is.) Into the straight and up the rise Jeffrey Hartley had edged right away and took the honours comfortably over Damien followed over in third spot by Klaire Marcic. What a wonderful ride from the Tableland youngster then Andrew Mills, Julie Scharf, Adam Dunn, and Jamie Thurtell who was beaming with pride having admitted that that is the fastest she had ever ridden.     Official placings D grade – Hartley1st Smith 2nd Mills 3rd WOMEN- Marcic 1st Scharf 2nd Thurtell 3rd.

Again to all our fabulous Volunteer’s Glenys, Mundi, Gaby, all riders who went that extra yard to help MARSHALL and of course Kim for without you there ain’t no report.


*Meaning of SMOKE THE CHERRYWOOD the Chinese used it for making Pipes, the Americans for soaking their whisky. However in the context I used, it was the great Author, Arthur Conan who had Sherlock Holmes smoking A Cherrywood Pipe for total relaxation. And that was how I witnessed James Mort cruising along at the back of the Field Beaten but not flustered ie Smoking the Cherry wood.