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By Malcolm Sawford
Many people are starting to think Summer has by-passed Melbourne this year. The dawn brought with it overcast skies, frequent showers and cold winds. 81 riders braved the miserable weather for their weekend racing fix, including a number of first timers -- what a day to be introduced to the competitive side of the sport. Light rain was constant throughout all racing, but the slightly smaller fields and wide roads of the circuit saw incident free racing.
With Robert Tighello and Tom Leaper among many who preferred to watch the action under the shelter of convenient trees, Hilton Clarke (SBR) was once again the man to beat. Only 14 minutes into the race he was on the attack with James Taylor (ACR), Matt Gould (ACR), Andy Naylor (GB) and Dane Cheers (SA) for company. The remains of the bunch didn't give in, and worked hard to limit their losses.
At the half way mark James Taylor attacked the group and rode alone for the next 15 minutes. An ill-timed puncture (there's a good time to puncture?) to Gould saw him take a lap for a wheel change, and in that time Clarke had bridged across to Taylor. Unsure of the rules, Gould rejoined the leading pair, and did not react to the commisaires repeated direction to drop back to Cheers and Naylor.
At the finish, Clarke who has just announced his signing with the new Schroeder Iron Division 3 team from the US, was too good for Taylor, and Gould who was ineligible for the placings. Naylor outdid Cheers, who was perhaps a little flat after a great first time ride in last night's Dimmeys Melbourne Madison, for the 3rd place prize money.
The B Grade event was run at a solid pace, with a few riders happy to do the work at the front to avoid the spray off other riders wheels! Ian Smith (The Freedom Machine) was prominent trying to go clear, but Damien Power was the first to clear off, and at the mid point of the race had nearly the length of the straight advantage. Only a concerted effort from the bunch reeled him in, but he was soon off again along with Russell Newnham, Danny Kah and Brett Morton. This group would stay clear until the 50 minute mark after some big turns from Michael Bailey to close the gap.
Power tried again at 3 to go, but everything came back together for the final sprint. Kah took a good win, from the tireless Power, Damien Bourke and Simon Hurren (Le Tour Cycles). Liz Taddich (VIS) was the only woman to start (and finish) the race, and will be rewarded by free entry next time round.
C Grade stayed together for the majority of their race, until an attack with 5 laps to go from Rick Jones and Daniel Young. Jones would drop his breakaway companion in the last 2 laps to record a good win. Young speedsters Cam Wise and Nathan Wise (no relation) lead the bunch home hot on Young's wheel.
In the only event with multiple female competitors, Rachel Rademacher found her elevation to C Grade no trouble, taking the Women's prize money ahead of Rebecca McConnell.
D Grade stayed together throughout their race in wet conditions, and it was a credit to the riders that they heeded the coaching of their more experienced members to survive the wet intact. First time rider Cameron Rutter walked away with the fabled 'first up win' from Marcus Hall, Richard Cormick and junior Richard Eppinger.
A Grade (1 hour + 3 laps) 18 starters 1 Hilton Clarke (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 James Taylor (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Andy Naylor (Great Britain) 4 Dane Cheers (SA) B Grade - 1 hour + 3 laps - 26 Starters 1 Danny Kah (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Damien Power (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Damien Bourke (Northcote CC) 4 Simon Hurren (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) C Grade - 45 mins + 3 laps - 22 starters 1 Rick Jones (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Daniel Young (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Cam Wise (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Nathan Wise (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) Women: 1 Rachel Rademacher (Blackburn CC) D Grade - 45 mins + 3 laps - 15 starters 1 Cameron Rutter (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Marcus Hall (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Richard Cormick (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Richard Eppinger (Chelsea & Peninsula CC)
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