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By Malcolm Sawford
Good fields in all grades today; with fine weather, and positions on the Balance Carnegie Caulfield team for the Skilled Engineering Bay Series in early January up for grabs for the Club's riders in good form.
Very early in the Elite race, a handful of riders broke clear and established a lead which would be good for over half the race. Alan Iacuone, racing for the first time in the new iteamNOVA colours, was keen to impress and was joined by new SBR signing Hilton Clarke and team mate Simon Gerrans, Nick Sanderson (VIS), and local strongmen Matt Chessum, Brendan Rowbotham (Fitzroy Cycles) and training partner to the stars Dean Johnstone.
Things regrouped around the 30 minute mark, before another attack from Iacuone, Gerrans and Clarke a few laps later. The trio was briefly joined by Dominic Gato, but he was unable to handle the high pace for long, and rejoined the main bunch, which was no longer chasing with the same intensity.
At the finish, Clarke made it a hat trick of wins on the circuit, from Gerrans and Iacuone in third; the first podium finish for Australia's newest pro team. The sprinters in the main bunch were denied any joy, as Leigh Godfrey (VIS) attacked them in the closing stages to take fourth place.
The large B Grade field saw repeated attempts to break things up all come to no avail, before an all in sprint. Prominent in the unsuccessful attacks were Aston Duncan, Boon Chia, Ian Johnstone and Peter Barnett (City Cycles).
Barnett would go on to controversially lap the field, but in a difficult decision the judges ruled he had gained an unfair advantage from the A Grade bunch and ruled he would remain on the same lap as the bunch.
Adam Bonney, back to competition after a year spinning wrenches for lunatic Downhill Mountain Bikers, set a fierce tempo at the bell, with good mate Darren Cathie glued to his wheel. The lead out was not quite enough at the line, with the very experienced Chris Boone (ACR) taking the win ahead of Paul Kennedy, David Taylor-Reid and Cathie.
The C Grade race featured a number of small breaks which looked dangerous. Early on Grant Jamieson, Marcel Musco, Ian Wolfe, Daniel Young and David Pearce all went clear, and it took 10 minutes of chasing before the bunch brought them back.
Jamieson was keen to try his luck again, and rode away with Tyron Simpson (astride Allan Peiper's old bike), Deb McCoy and Cheryl Hickman for company. The bunch was just as keen to bring them back, and soon they were preparing for the traditional C Grade bunch gallop.
A previously unknown rider, Michael Bayley, took the win ahead of the luckless Jamieson, and regular place getters 'Milo' Answerth and Marcel Musco.
D Grade was blown to bits by 13 year old Kieran Murphy (CBD Cycles). The talented youngster broke away on the second lap, provoking a chase by Rick Jones, Trevor Key, Paul Groves, Rob McLellan and Apryl Eppinger.
Deciding the group was too big for his liking, Murphy attacked the group again, and only Jones was strong enough to respond and the pair drew clear. Trevor Key started a solo chase, and managed to latch on with 5 laps to go, but the effort blunted his sprint and he finished 3rd behind the young star (who will now move up to C Grade) and Jones in his first competitive race after graduating from E Grade last week. Another youngster, Sean Bourke took the final placing after a long chase between the break away and the main bunch.
The Women were well represented today, with good numbers in B, C and D Grades. Katie Mactier (SBR) and Liz Taddich (VIS) helped keep the pace high in the B Grade bunch, before a clash of wheels and resulting mechanical troubles forced the former World's Silver Medallist out of the race in the closing stages. Mactier took the prize for first unplaced woman ahead of track star Narelle Peterson.
Deborah McCoy continued her good form taking out the C Grade prize, with Junior Amy Phillips taking out the Women's event in D Grade.
A Grade - 1 hour + 3 laps - 41 starters 1 Hilton Clarke (SKCC) 2 Simon Gerrans (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Alan Iacuone (iteamNOVA) 4 Leigh Godfrey (VIS) B Grade - 1 hour + 3 laps - 58 Starters 1 Chris Boone (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Paul Kennedy (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 David Taylor-Reid (Chelsea & Peninsula CC) 4 Darren Cathie (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC)\ B Grade Women 1 Katie Mactier (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Narelle Peterson (Coburg CC) C Grade - 50 mins + 3 laps - 25 starters 1 Michael Bayley 2 Grant Jamieson (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Graham Answerth (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Marcel Musco (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) C Grade Women 1 Deb McCoy (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) D Grade - 50 mins + 3 laps - 26 starters 1 Kieran Murphy (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Rick Jones (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Trevor Key (Blackburn CC) 4 Sean Bourke (Blackburn CC) D Grade Women 1 Amy Phillips (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC)
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