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By Malcolm Sawford
Classy fields in A and B Grades today; the top local riders are fine tuning for the Skilled Bay Series to be held in the first week of January. We may not have the weather they get in Queensland, but it's good enough for the likes of Jamie Drew (iteamNOVA) and Brad Davidson (Saeco); and a who's who of Australian Elite women, with established stars Liz Taddich, Helen Kelly (KPMG), Naomi Williams (Tasmanian Institute of Sport) joined by up and comers like Emma Rickards (SBR) and Katrina Purcell racing in the B Grade field.
The pace was on in A Grade from the get go, as one rider after another forced the pace at the front. Brad Davidson seemed to be doing most of the damage, and 20 minutes into the race, he succeeded in drawing a group of 7 riders clear of the exhausted peleton. Davidson was joined by Robert Tighello (ACR), Simon Gerrans (AIS Under 23), Ben Day, Michael Knoff, Dominic Gato and local favorites Jonny Clarke (ProMotion Cycles) and Warren Knevitt (O'Mara Cycles).
The horsepower of the group made it unlikely they would be brought back by the bunch, and they continued to take timeout of the bunch for the duration of the race. Tighello has a finish most riders are wary of, and it was no surprise when Simon Gerrans tried a last lap solo. The headwind out of the first corner made things too tough for the diminutive Gerrans, and as he was caught Dominic Gato attacked down the back straight.
Gato held a 50 meter lead out of the final corner, and gave it everything on the slight uphill finish, but the look over his shoulder told that the line was just too far away. He was swamped at the line, with the win going to former Australian Champ Tighello from Gerrans, Davidson and trackie Knevitt.
Mick Buckley lead the huge field away at the start of the B Grade race, and when he realized no-one was eager to take his wheel, her put his head down and went for it. The bunch would not see him again for 20 minutes, riding strongly in the windy conditions.
After he was finally brought back, a succession of small groups tried to go clear, but with such a large chasing bunch, there always seemed to be a few willing to do the job to close things down. A group featuring Emma Rickards, Liz Taddich, Richard Knight, Ian Johnstone, Martin Bole and Damon De Angelis managed to hold the bunch off for a 5 minutes midway through the race, but no other break lasted longer than a lap or two.
Just before the completion of the hour, Buckley had one last try, joined by Ken Mayberry, Alistair Douglas and Mark Loecherer, but the call of '3 to go' prompted a quick reaction and they were soon captured. A bunch finish of 60 riders is always going to be a bit of a lottery, as riders come from everywhere to try to find a way through. Under 17 Australian Track Sprint Champion Shane Perkins pulled a foot midway through the sprint which caused a brief moment of heart failure for a few, but miraculously recovered to finish third behind winner Damon De Angelis, in only his second race after a few years off the bike, and speed skater Mark Gainsmith.
The C Grade win went to Craig Rothenbuecher, getting up in the sprint ahead of perpetual place getter Milo Answerth. Santa's bringing Milo a new bike for Christmas, which he is sure will propel him back to B Grade for the first time in a few years. The minor placings went to Bob Doyle and Brendan Curtis.
Rick Jones scored his first win in D Grade win after joining the Club earlier in the month. He will be joined in C Grade next week by 2nd place getter Tony Gill, who finished ahead of Apryl Eppinger (who will be riding with Carnegie Caulfield in 2002) and Peter Johnstone, who is still chasing the big bucks a first place finish brings!
Liz Taddich mixed it with the B Grade fast finishers to take out the Women's B Grade prize money, holding a position at the front for the last couple of frantic laps. Emma Rickards sprinted home strongly to overhaul a tiring Katrina Purcell for second place. Lizzie Williams was only just outside the placings in C Grade, and looks certain to break through for a win soon, taking the women's win today, while Apryl Eppinger 3rd place overall in D Grade obviously gave her the women's race.
Racing continues at Carnegie Caulfield right through the holiday season. No racing on Christmas Day (so Milo will have to wait a few days to show off his new machine) but otherwise all Club racing is as normal on both road and track.
A Grade - 1 hour+ 3 laps, 31 starters 1 Robert Tighello (SKCC) 2 Simon Gerrans (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Brad Davidson (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Warren Knevitt (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) B Grade - 1 hour + 3 laps, 62 Starters 1 Damon De Angelis (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Mark Gainsmith (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Shane Perkins (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Brett Morton (Blackburn CC) B Grade Women 1 Liz Taddich (Shepparton CC), 2 Emma Rickards (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) C Grade - 50 mins + 3 laps, 29 starters 1 Craig Rothenbuecher (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Graham Answerth (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Bob Doyle (Blackburn CC) 4 Brendan Curtis (Blackburn CC) Women: Liz Williams (Brunswick CC) D Grade - 50 mins + 3 laps, 19 starters 1 Rick Jones (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Tony Gill (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Apryl Eppinger (Chelsea & Peninsula CC) 4 Peter Johnstone (Chelsea & Peninsula CC) Novice/Junior - 45 mins + 3 laps 1 Ryan Murphy (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Gary Cairnduff (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Ingrid Alexander (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Gavin Nicholls (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC)
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