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By Mike Van Niekerk
Melbourne's fickle summer again offered cool, breezy conditions and some passing drizzle to the 80 starters in four grades at St Kilda Cycling Club's Sunday morning criterium at Port Melbourne.
Despite the headwind up the long finishing straight, several adventurers worked hard to get away, Bryan Wilkin testing the A-grade bunch in the first lap. Soon after Wilkin was absorbed, Pro Motion team-mate Daniel Nelms jumped away and spent 10 minutes dangling off the front, eventually changing places with Dillen Newell and Michael Kennedy.
These two went round the course several times at 20 seconds on the bunch, before Newell dropped Kennedy and was in turn caught. Five riders went down on a corner, throwing the bunch into disarray and allowing Wilkin, Nelms and Kon Kakris to get clear. These three formed an effective working party for at least 20 minutes before another reshuffle saw the early duo of Nelms and Newell back out front.
Nelms took a well-earned win ahead of Newell. Ben Jackson, fresh from his efforts in the Forges Wheelrace at Vodafone Arena the previous night, outsprinted the bunch for third.
Andrew Sprague and Glen O'Rourke worked hard together to get away for most of the B-grade race, gaining 30 seconds at one stage before being overhauled. Towards the end of the race the bunch splintered several times, Robbie Moore testing his legs but never managing to stay away, and it ended in a group sprint with Ben Dougall strongest on the line, ahead of Andrew Blackmore and Scott Rush.
C and D grades stayed together through most of their races in the windy conditions, shedding some riders out the back and also suffering a crash on the first lap.
A grade 1 Daniel Nelms 2 Dillen Newell 3 Ben Jackson B grade 1 Ben Dougall 2 Andrew Blackmore 3 Scott Rush C grade 1 Kel McCulloch 2 Daryl Annels 3 Dave "Scapin" Roberts D grade 1 Peter Bracker 2 Rod Brandenburg 3 Isak
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