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Fantastic fields on a cold Melbourne Summer morning saw 169 riders take to the start line for this weeks running of Carnegie Caulfield's Summer Criterium series. As usual B Grade was the biggest field, with over 70 battling for the honors, including a who's who of the local Elite Women: Emma Rickards (SBR), Narelle Peterson (Giramondo) and mountain bike star Dellys Franke mixing it with the up and coming (and those who used to have it!) men.
Lee Godfrey (VIS) tried an early attack to kick off the A Grade race, in a duplicate of last weeks effort. Again, he would be brought back to the bunch, but set the tone for a series of attacks from the bunch. Tour Down Under star Robert Tighello (ACR) was in a couple of the unsuccessful moves, with Matt Chessum and Tom Leaper, riding in his new Navigators strip. The attacks didn't stick, but the high pace of the chase saw many early retirements from the dwindling bunch, which would split in two.
15 riders made the split, and worked solidly to maintain their advantage until 20 minutes to race, when Hilton Clarke (SBR) took off with Domenic Gatto. The bunch was quick to react, and the counter attack came from Tighello. He was quickly joined by Clarke, and last weeks B Grade winner Mick Jamieson. Jamieson found the pace too tough, and replaced in the select group by Leaper and Trent Lowe.
Lowe also couldn't hold the pace, and dropped back to the remnants of the front group, where only Jonny Clarke (VIS), BJ McIntosh (AIS Under 23) and Peter Barnett (City Cycles) remained. The leading trio eventually lapped all bar these four at the 55 minute mark, and went on to sprint for the win. Clarke took another good win from Tighello and the non sprinter Leaper, while younger brother Jonny took fourth from his small group.
With such a big field in B Grade, the odds were on a bunch finish. That didn't stop plenty of riders forcing the pace, or trying their luck off the front. Dennis Bowen-Day, Brett Buckland, Darryl Annells, Danny Weatherley, Damien Power, Paul Natoli, Andrew Steele and Lee Robinson were prominent in the early moves, with Heath Jackson, Brett Morton and Josh Vanderveen having a dip midway through the hour.
In the end though, no rider was ever allowed any distance, and the bunch prepared for an all in finish. Steve Martin returned to the winners list after surviving the frantic three lap dash the best, ahead of club mate Richard Knight, Danny Kah, and Boon Chia who finally broke through for some prize money after a run of near misses. Emma Rickards rode an impressive race to take out the women's race, with trackie Narelle Peterson close behind.
The C Grade race also featured many attacks in the first 40 minutes, with Andy Bryant and David Scott prominent. The bunch seemed happy to allow riders to dangle off the front, knowing that they could reel the escapees in when the mood was right.
The eventual sprint was well won by Craig Rothenbuecher in his first race for the season, ahead of Perry Johnstone, young Nathan Wise and Tony Dean. Cheryl Hickman returned to the women's winners list after a week away as a result of injuries sustained in a speed skating race.
Mountain biker Peter Bracka took out the D Grade race, in a mass sprint to the line, ahead of Daniel Young, Mark Simmons and junior Alex Smyth. Rachel Rademacher took her second women's win in a row, and will step up to C Grade next time round. Audrey Quick also rode well to hang on to the leading bunch.
A Grade - 1 hour + 3 laps 1 Hilton Clarke (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Robert Tighello (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Tom Leaper (Navigators) 4 Jonny Clarke (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) B Grade - 1 hour + 3 laps 1 Steve Martin (Blackburn CC) 2 Richard Knight (Blackburn CC) 3 Danny Kah (Dirt Riders CC) 4 Boon Chia (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) Women: 1 Emma Rickards (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Narelle Peterson (Coburg CC) C Grade - 45 minutes + 3 laps 1 Craig Rothenbuecher (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Perry Johnstone (Chelsea & Peninsula CC) 3 Nathan Wise (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Tony Dean First Women: Cheryl Hickman (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) D Grade - 45 minutes + 3 laps 1 Peter Bracka (Dirt Riders CC) 2 Daniel Young (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Mark Simmons (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Alex Smyth (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) First Women: Rachel Rademacher (Blackburn CC)
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