The Tour completed over two days featuring three events covering all grades, were held in conditions akin to the theme of the Canadian Mounties, Through Wind, Hail, Sleet and a wee bit of Sunshine The Riders will get their rewards. Well some would and others fell victim to adverse conditions.
Day one the Collins Street Criterium. Drizzling rain confronted the 12 starters making the course slippery and quite treacherous, however you wouldn’t know through the early laps as Damien Ingram and Shane Gelling appearing to enjoy the challenging conditions set a very solid tempo. Ten Minutes of racing done and Tobia Kipper pinched a break. Five minutes later the rain returned and we saw the first glimpse of Matt Drivers aggression sweeping to the lead hotly pursued by Kipper and Michael Haseldine. The appalling conditions were taking its toll on a few riders with Gary Haydon and Shane Gelling opting for another day and shortly after Andrew Harper called it morning attracting no criticism from the large crowd of Spectators.
The remaining nine all soaked, and heading toward the sprint lap, where Haseldine, Ingram and Carolan had gained control. To the bottom of Collins St appearing through the murk, Kipper and Carolan emerged clear of Jamie Holman, Ikeda and Ingram. However riding strongly Linc Carolan collected the cash in front of Tobia Kipper with Jamie Holman third over the line. Shortly after the sprint, the field dropped to eight as a saturated Brendon Skerke pulled up stumps. Through the next few laps Matt Driver, Jamie Holman and Michael Haseldine spent their time at the top but the remaining eight were all very much in contention. Next it was Ingram and Holman resting the lead away with Carolan in hot pursuit.
The rain eased and with 3 to go and the order past the judge was Driver, Holman, Haseldine and Ingram and they were followed by Carolan, Kipper, Bernard Cossar – Smith and Ikeda. The Bell saw Matt Diver heading toward the Edge Hill village in front of Ingram, Kipper and Haseldine. Who will top the leader board on day one, was the question on all lips as Haseldine and Ingram headed up for the judge, with Damien Ingram forging away to take the first day honours from Michael Haseldine and Linc Carolan close behind in third spot, they were followed in by Kipper, Cossar -Smith , Driver, Holman and Ikeda. As the rain cleared a magnificent RAINBOW appeared as if to say this series is PURE GOLD.
MALANDA. DAY TWO, RACE ONE. Yeah you guessed it WINDY, COLD DRIZZLY conditions on the testing Kermesse course with two newcomers joining the field Victorian young gun Thomas Benton and well known top class rider Graham Grant, both were unavailable on the first day of competition. Now we had 14 of the best, out to attempt to wrest the lead away from Damien Ingram who had racked up a five second bonus.
I must paint the picture relayed to me by my technical advisor Kim Butler, as at this point I was still in bed in Golds borough Valley. LOUSY DRIZZLY MORNING LOTS OF LEG WARMERS and GOOSEBUMPS, with the hum of the coffee van drawing the cyclists like MOTHS TO THE FLAME.
With the weather not improving the grades set out on their 8 klm per lap journey at 2 minute intervals. Picking up the highlights. Matt Driver and the young Victorian Thomas Benton exploded to a substantial lead after 3 laps of the circuit. Gary Haydon wanting to preserve both bike and health in the rotten conditions headed for the coffee van and a not well Alex ikdea had drifted well off the back and out of reach of the chasing peloton.
Any chance of the Tour Leader reeling in the tearaway leaders was DASHED by a flat, so Ingram’s chance claiming the overall tour was appearing to be in tatters. Back in the chase group Bernard Cossar –Smith, Linc Carolan and Tobia Kipper were maybe the ones most likely to bridge the ever-increasing gap to Benton and Driver but as every lap past the pair were continuing to edge away. When Matt and Thomas went passed me a lap out (yes I had arrived) their lead had ballooned to three minutes and unless a horse or cow had broken a gate, this pair now had the race in their keeping. So Benton and Driver swept into the longish uphill run to the line. Matt Driver just had the better of Thomas Benton over the last few metres and ran out a very strong winner from the Talented Victorian. Three and half minutes later Linc Carolan finished a solid third just in front of Bernard Cossar – Smith and Tobia Kipper followed by Andrew Harper all eleven riders over the line deserving an OSCAR in ordinary conditions.
THE ATHERTON CRITERIUM the FINALE.
It’s not that far from Malanda to Atherton, however to the riders of all grades, brilliant sunshine had certainly brought a new lease of life to all competitors. With the huge time break given to Matt Driver and Thomas Benton over their slashing performance in Malanda, all Matt had to do was stay with them and remain upright to clinch the Tour. Thomas Benton who shared the same time as Matt wasn’t eligible as he didn’t compete in the Collins St Criterium.
With only a couple of hours between both races on the Tablelands one could be forgiven for a few early cautious laps, not so The A grade first lap was timed at 1 minute and seventeen seconds and Matt Driver was top of the Joe, what a finale. Up to the sprint whistle Driver, Benton. Grahame Grant, Jamie Holman and Damien Ingram were all showing continued aggression. Driver led the way up the hill and out of sight with Benton and Grant close in attendance, however into the fabulous run to the line being slightly uphill and therefore testing, Thomas Benton and Lincoln Carolan riding a brilliant series were locked together with Benton forging clear to nab the sprinting honours from Carolan with Damien Ingram in third spot wondering what might have been but for his mechanical in the Malanda Slush. Damien was followed by Driver, Cossar – Smith and Grant.
From the sprint to the final 3 lap mark Matt Driver put up an amazing show of pure power in one instant as the hot field went passed the judges area the course commentator was clearly calling Haseldine leads from Holman and Skerke with Matt Driver back in eleventh and last spot however climbing the hill by the time the crest was reached Driver had regained the lead a callers delight.
There were at times attacks from Haseldine, Grant, Kipper and Holman, but each time Driver would drag them back and never far away lurked the all black colours of Thomas Benton always in contention and then there was Linc Carolan riding a very consistent race, as they passed the 2 to go sign Tobia Kipper hit the front and pinched a small break with his mad dog mates Andrew Harper and Shane Gelling hoping that Tobia may go on with it, but yet again Driver was the instigator with Benton reeling them in. Finally Matt Driver the power house of the series wasn’t in the leading bunch entering the final straight however the series belonged to him as he watched Thomas Benton and Lincoln Carolan head up for the final sprint with Grant and Ingram right on their wheels and that’s how they went over line Thomas Benton first (what might have happen had he been able to make Collins St.) second place to Linc Carolan third going to Grahame Grant and they were followed home by Ingram, Cossar- Smith, Andrew Harper and Jamie Holman.
The victory to Matt Driver was indeed popular one, for He didn’t leave a stone unturned in a powerhouse display in all weather conditions.
Commissar Richie BATES gave a stern warning prior the commencement of the large field assembled in front of him, Slippery road rain still around BEWARE AND AWARE The popular grade was a mix of young and not so young and all in-between. Through the first few laps there were many riders testing the water. Prominent early were Townsville’s Michael Hibble followed by Brad Miller, Fiona Yard, Grant Knight and Kieran Mouldey. However through these early laps leading to the sprint the young guns were also up vying for the front spot. Tiago Torres, Cody Haseldine, Luke Azzarpardi and tucked in behind those was Brandon Hutton. So there were many riders looking for the pointy end and in their minds maybe out of trouble in the tough conditions.
The wise owl of the group Gavin Butler, soon after retired from the race on the grounds that Conditions weren’t improving and I want to be around to have breakfast with my wife in the morning. Crack young Sprinter David Hutton was next out of contention dropping of the back and just rolling along behind. The two front runners on the sprint lap were Fiona Yard and Grahame Allen cleverly negotiating the tricky corners with a massive wall chasing. Coming into view for the dash for cash Cody Haseldine led clearly with Brandon Hutton flying home, nabbing Cody close to the wire to win convincingly Third place to Tiago Torres followed by Jason Berry – Porter, Allen and Yard.
Sprint gone and Luke Azzarpardi along with Mark Smedts were all out of contention, as Mal Lindsay briefly joined Fiona Yard in the lead. Seventeen riders left as Tiago Torres headed the leading bunch with Jason Berry-Porter and Kieran Mouldey joining in and with 3 laps to go Mouldey led Berry- Porter, Shawn Garraway sliding into the picture and he was just in front of Lindsay and Yard. Fiona Yard again took control and with Brad Miller by her side led through to the bell with Mitchell Knight becoming very prominent as well as Allen and Haseldine. Then at the village end DISASTER Tiago Torres a little quick into the corner came to grief bringing down Grant Knight. Fiona sitting smack on their wheels and travelling well forfeited yet another race rendering immediate assistance to the fallen riders. Upshot nothing serious, Crash worse than it looked however another case of the FLYING NURSE giving up her race. Bottom corner Brandon Hutton the boom young sprinter was poised to take the race when he crashed and slid out of contention. To quote a well-known cricket commentator ITS ALL HAPPENING as the very consistent Cody Haseldine careered to the lead to grab the win over Mitchell Knight and Kieran Mouldey close up in third place, they were followed by Grahame Allen, Shawn Garraway and Jason Berry – Porter in a thrilling opener.
MALANDA DAY TWO.
In the dreadful conditions albeit picturesque settings I must confess the B grade race is virtually only a result service as I wasn’t there, and due to all grades on the track at the same time, all my normal assistants were all flat out doing various activities to keep the race going. What I can report is that three riders not enjoying the weather and out of contention early were Mark Smedts, Bruno Barberisi and Mal Lindsay, however they bravely kept on going. Bell lap and Scott Beaven was the pilot however right on his hammer came the young brigade, Cody Haseldine, Luke Azzarpardi and Tiago Torres riding well after his nasty crash in Collins St, as well as Kieran Mouldey, Michael Hibble, Grahame Allen and Daniel Walsh. Finally I was trackside to see through the gloom, Kieran Mouldey getter the better of Luke and Cody. Kieran backing up his recent good form. Fourth home Tiago in front of Michael Hibble and Scott Beaven.
The sun now out and the track dry. The club are now able to put into effect the timing chips placed on each rider’s bike, most of the riders are weary from the Kermesse out of Malanda, however all riders are in the same BOAT – I MEAN bike so it will anyone’s race to take. Leading contenders for the podium are Cody Haseldine, Kieran Mouldey, Luke Azzarpardi and a dark horse in Townsville’s Michael Hibble along with Jason Berry- Porter. The course itself short but not easy. Only a kilometre long with a lot of that distance, a gentle uphill climb that will push the rider’s legs to the limit, including a steady climb to the finish. The above mention riders all meant business through the laps leading to the sprint. Senior riders Michael Hibble, Daniel Walsh, Grahame Allen, Shawn Garraway and Sprint Champ Brandon Hutton were never far from the action as well. The sprint was an absolute thriller just when Kieran Mouldey had edged clear of Luke Azzarpardi, Cody Haseldine , Jason Berry – Porter and Tiago Torres and looked all over a winner, coming from NOWHERE In his State Title colours, The Maroon Flash raced up on the outside of Kieran and grabbed him on the line. We all witnessed something special as Brandon Hutton took the sprint prize.
The tough weekend was taking its toll. Ken Dyson simply said they are just too young for me and dropped out of the race Ken being a top rider for a long time said maybe I just go down a grade. Mark Smedts was lapped but the affable Mark just kept on going. Greg Hutton had dropped back with Bruno Barberisi they were rolling but out of any chance. Between the sprint and the 3 to go sign, six riders broke away and set up a margin, Cody Haseldine, Jason Berry – Porter, Brandon Hutton, Tiago Torres, Kieran Mouldey and Luke Azzarpardi the chase group led by Michael Hibble and Daniel Walsh now 40 seconds astern.
Heading for the Bell the six were now three. Tiago had called it a day, a terrific effort after misfortune on Day One. And now Kieran Mouldey, Brandon Hutton and Cody Haseldine poured on the gas which left Luke dropping back slightly with Jason. Into the final stretch and up onto the rising ground Kieran Mouldey had to contend again with Brandon Hutton for line honours and the super improved Cody Haseldine right with them, However Brandon Hutton took the race from Kieran Mouldey and Cody third the trio putting up another great spectacle for all onlookers. Fourth over the line another superb performance from Luke Azzarpardi and also Michael Hibble who had made up a considerable amount of ground to finish just behind the first four next in was Jason Berry- Porter and then Daniel Walsh. The judges then had a devil of a time separating Kieran and Cody for Tour honours however the time based EVENT went to Kieran Mouldey oh so narrowly from Cody Haseldine.Third overall to Luke Azzarpardi from Michael Hibble and Jason Berry-Porter. Brandon Hutton rode brilliantly however not having featured in the Malanda Gloom was never really in contention.
15 riders lined up at the Botanical Gardens Start including Townsville’s President Michael Saunders and two of their younger brigade Matt O’Halloran and Jarren Walker much to the delight of the Race organisers. Of the Fifteen at the start five were women the much Travelled Sarah Kaehler, Alex Hall , Kath Deed and Tableland youngster Klare Marcic. Missing the start was Merrilynne Pryde. Mel missed the start due to attending a fallen rider still on the track. However THE Race Commissar extended grace and away went Mel. Early laps we had strong efforts from Alex Hall, Mel Pride and Oliver Wacek however Both the Townsville lads Angus O’Halloran and Jarren Walker showed they had bright futures by working strongly at the top end. At this point the luckless James Mort suffered a flat and re-joined a lap later.
Heading to the sprint lap Alex Hall and Mark Procter led the way from Michael Saunders, Mel Pryde and Sarah Kaehler. However the sprint belonged to the very in form youngster Ethan Chamberlain taking the honours from Angus O’Halloran with Mark Procter third, they were followed in by Saunders, Kaehler, Pryde and Wacek. With the sprint over Procter broke away catching a few riders unaware until he was joined by Jarren Walker and the pair working together had a few seconds lead. The conditions still ordinary when young Tableland rider Klare Marcic crashed at the Sheridan St end of the course She was quickly attended to just a little bruised and battered, and was seen giving the thumbs up to the many concerned. With Procter and Walker leading, Sarah Kaehler and Ethan Chamberlain started to reel them in and just prior the 3 to go sign a main group of Ten Riders were back together however not for long, as this is where Mark Procter said Ce le vie and tried to shake the field, with Saunders, Chamberlain, O’Halloran and Hall out after him. With two laps left the order past the judge, Michael Saunders and Procter together followed by Hall, Wacek, Mort, O’Halloran and Chamberlain. The bell and this race was becoming a raffle as Mel Pryde had reached the top spot from Wacek, Chamberlain and Procter. Back into view and Saunders and Procter had drawn to the lead with O’Halloran, Walker and Hall trying to peg them back. Try as he might over the concluding stages Michael Saunders couldn’t match the finishing sprint of Mark Procter who went on to defeat Saunders with third place going to Alex Hall who finished very powerfully in front of Angus O’Halloran, Jarren Walker and Ethan Chamberlain.
MALANDA DAY TWO
Again as in the other grades purely a result service with the win going to Mark Procter who absolutely revelled in the conditions to comfortably take the race from Ethan Chamberlain. Ethan having a stellar season finished in front Townsville’s Angus O’Halloran Fourth place to Mel Pryde who actually enjoyed the inclement weather and rode a brilliant race to finish in front of Kath Deed and Michael Saunders. Klare Marcic lasted a couple of laps until the effects of her nasty fall on Collins St took its toll forcing Klare to retire.
Well the start of this race had all tongues wagging as Trinity Cycles Oliver Wacek took off and speared to a healthy break, only a lap or so later to find bridging the gap was Bicycle Centres Gary Perkins. So when Gary went upside Oliver and the pair started working together the banter in the crowd began. Have we got the BATTLE OF THE BIKE SHOPS? However the camaraderie between the two was obvious, as working together they had established an eight second break over the chase group headed by Alex Hall. The pair put on quite a show until Gary started to edge away from the man I call the Maestro. The startled group behind the two leaders had now reeled them in and heading for the sprint lap the contenders were now Gary Perkins still fighting on strongly with Mark Procter and Ethan Chamberlain. Up the hill and Gary Perkins led Kath Deed and Mark Procter, with joining in quickly and racing to yet another sprint win, Ethan Chamberlain and the young rider was too strong for Perkins with Kath Deed having a great Tour in third place, Kath was followed by Procter, Angus O’Halloran and Mel Pryde.
Working toward the final three Mark Procter doing a power of work was putting himself in the perfect spot to claim the overall tour. He just needed to stay upright. However line honours for the final race was very much up for grabs. Michael Saunders always prominent and then there were the young brigade, O’Halloran, Walker and Chamberlain add to the mix the strong women’s team of Hall, Deed and Pryde. SO THE BELL, Mal Pryde led the way up the hill from Saunders, O’Halloran, Chamberlain, Procter and Mark Knowles. Sweeping into the long uphill straight, riders spread across the track Michael Saunders prominent being challenged by TWO OF THE YOUNG GUNS, Ethan Chamberlain and Angus O’Halloran with Angus taking the race from Ethan and Michael Saunders close up in third spot. They were followed across the line by Mark Procter who had a marvellous week end and he in turn was chased in by Mel Pryde and Mark Knowles who finished the race off well.
C GRADE TOUR PLACINGS – Mark Procter 1st Etan Chamberlain 2nd Angus O’Halloran 3RD Mel Pryde 4th
Four only however always an intriguing gathering, shortly after the start the smiling Tony Nastasi pinched a 5 sec break, until Jamie Thurtell leading the chase dragged the chasing trio up to close quarters, although Michael Etherington slow to get going was working hard to stay in touch. Coming into the sprint lap you would have given Michael pretty good odds as he had to work hard to gather in Kelly D’Andrea, Jamie and Tony. However enigmatic Etherington pulled out a ripping sprint to easily take the prize from Tony Nastasi, Jamie Thurtell and Kelly D’ Andrea.
From then on a pumped up Etherington kept the lead with the trio behind him watching each other like hawks, Tony, Kelly and Jamie were content to sit on Michaels ‘wheel right up to the final lap where Michael Etherington riding a well rated race won from Tony Nastasi, Jamie Thurtell and Kelly D’ Andrea. The race was uneventful however the quartet carries a pretty strong fan base, as the group look to wards Malanda.
MALANDA RACE 2
Michael Etherington willingly gave up the pole position to drive a support vehicle through the Malanda Hills. Michael along with wife Linda are wonderful additions to the CYC. With Michael out Al Marcic the friendly local re-joins the race after being unavailable on day one. Still a field of Four Jaime Thurtell, Kelly D’Andrea, Al and Tony Nastasi. All I can say here is all four rode the sometimes hostile conditions with aplomb. Tony Nastasi loving the hills took the race and became the nominal favourite to claim the C grade Tour by defeating Al Marcic, Kelly D’ Andrea and Jaime Thurtell both women I believe would never have ridden in such conditions and both performed superbly.
The Rivalry between Michael Etherington and Tony Nastasi resumed in the final race and straight away the pair were putting to each other and established an early break that would remain throughout the race. Kelly D’Andrea had a strong crack at bringing them back, but Tony and Michael were now working together making it tough for Kelly and Jaime to cross over, at this point Al Marcic feeling the effects of his early race at Malanda was now dropping out of reach of the others. To the sprint, the lead Duo now had a 28 sec break, and just like Collins St Michael took the sprint narrowly from Tony, third going to Kelly and Jaime next, and you couldn’t find Al with binoculars.
So on to the finish Michael Etherington and Tony Nastasi in rolling turns brings the race into the final straight. Neck and Neck wheel for wheel up the rise locked together with the enthusiastic crowd waiting for either rider to make that last surge. However with only a few yards to travel Tony and Michael clasped hands and rose in the air together trying to make a rare dead heat. Unfortunately they forgot the Photo Finish camera, which gave the race and the tour to Tony Nastasi over Micheal Etherington by less than a centimetre third place to Kelly D’ Andrea and Jaime Thurtell.
Overall Tour placing were Tony Nastasi 1st Michael Eterington 2nd Kelly D’Andrea 3rd Jaime Thurtell 4th.
Congrats to Damien Ingram with his outstanding effort to revamp the tour. To Richie for his knowledgeable policing of the three races, To the Townsville contingent which added to the flavour. And of course every volunteer, what a job though at times pretty adverse conditions. We salute you.