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Finally! A sunny Sunday in Melbourne after two washes in a row. Good sized fields fronted the start line in all grades as a result, and racing was hard and fast in all grades.
The A Grade field was joined for the first time this season by more of Melbourne's internationally based Pros: Carnegie Caulfield members Brad Davidson (Saeco) and Simon Gerrans (AIS/Mapei Under 23), as well as Hilton Clarke (Net Zero) and 2001 Giro D'Italia rider Tom Leaper (Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo).
With such a classy field, the A Grade field didn't stay together long, as attacks from the big names saw small groups establish handy gaps. A 12 man break began to put time into the bunch before bridging efforts from those left behind lead to things regrouping. Soon after, six riders went away, and increased their lead despite a fairly serious chase behind.
Davidson, Clarke, Leaper and Gerrans were joined by local stars James Taylor and Robert Tighello from the ACR squad. After working well together for 10 minutes an attack in the back straight saw Davidson, Gerrans and Tighello lose contact. The remaining trio worked well and were sitting just off the back of the main bunch when given three to go.
The race was well won by Hilton Clarke who lead out the three man sprint, from Leaper and Taylor. In the main bunch, Matt Chessum had jumped away at the three to go mark to try for fourth place. He was still clear at the bell, but was caught by Ray Turner (Diamond Back/Park Tools/Repco) who tried an unsuccessful 1 lap solo. In the end it would be Tighello who lead the sprinters home to take the fourth place prize.
B Grade was the days biggest field, and included a number of the top Elite Women such as former World Road Silver Medallist Liz Taddich. The Club has decided to recognize the efforts and achievements of the girls with special prizes for women competitors this season.
With the race got underway, Bruce Will and Nick Gibson rode clear, and established a handy lead which they maintained for 15 minutes before the chasing bunch finally got organized. In the classic move, as they were brought back Russell Edgar and Russell Collett counterattacked. Only Will had the strength and presence of mind to follow, and the three strong riders weren't seen again by the bunch.
Veteran strongman Denis Bowen-Day joined Under 17 stars Michael Ford and Simon Clarke in an attempt to bridge up, but lost contact with the juniors who held on to fight out fourth place. The win went to New Zealander Edgar from Collett and Will, with Ford outsprinting his team mate Clarke for fourth. Emma Rickards (SBR) was in the first few home from the main bunch to take out the days Women's Prize.
The C Grade field saw a succession of small breakaways get gaps, only to be chased down by the hungry bunch. Eventually, the race would finish with a bunch sprint, although the acceleration over the last few laps saw a number of riders 'blow' and lose contact. The win went to young Nathan Kaso from Boon Chia, Mark Gainsworth and Veteran Marcel Musco.
D Grade also finished all together, with a good win and promotion to C Grade going to Ian Wolfe ahead of Cheryl Hickman, first timer Simon Fredericks and Junior Sean Bourke.
A Grade (1 hour + 3 laps) 43 starters 1 Hilton Clarke (Net Zero) 2 Tom Leaper (Pro-Motion Cycles) 3 James Taylor (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Robert Tighello (SKCC) B Grade (1 hour + 3 laps) 53 Starters 1 Russell Edgar (SKCC) 2 Russell Collett (Northcote CC) 3 Bruce Will (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Michael Ford (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) C Grade (50 mins + 3 laps) 31 starters 1 Nathan Kaso (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Boon Chia (SKCC) 3 Mark Gainsworth (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Marcel Musco (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) D Grade (50 mins + 3 laps) 27 starters 1 Ian Wolfe (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Cheryl Hickman (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Simon Fredericks (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Sean Bourke (Blackburn CC) Novice (45 mins + 3 laps) 1 Warren Millar (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Erin Downing (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Danny Clarke (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC)
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