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The biggest A Grade field since the pre Christmas 65 rider epic, with 40 riders pinning a yellow number on. The catalyst seemed to be the absence of one Hilton Clarke from the field, but the presence of stars like Robert Tighello (ACR) and Jamie Drew (iteamNOVA, and on board his shiny new team issue De Rosa) promised tough racing.
As expected, Tighello got things off to a lung bursting start, going clear after ten minutes with BJ McIntosh (AIS), James Taylor (ACR) and Andrew Torney (Fitzroy Cycles). The bunch chased hard behind, and the lead hovered around 15 seconds. Taylor was the first to crack, and rejoined the field at the 15 minute mark. Torney held on until the halfway mark, with McIntosh and Tighello showing no signs of tiring.
With the Bicycle Superstore boys driving the chase, the lead was down to ten seconds at the 35 minute mark, and the leading pair were swept up after 42 minutes. McIntosh launched again with ten minutes to go, taking Tour of Tasmania hopeful Dean Johnstone and Matt Chessum (Fitzroy Cycles) along. When they were reeled in, Ralph Zimmerman, in his last race before returning to Switzerland, tried to go out with a win but was quickly chased down.
Tighello attacked with five laps to go, and strongly rode clear to take an unchallenged win. Big Leigh Egan convincingly lead the bunch home ahead of Leigh De Luca, Thaddeus Roos (Bicycle Superstore), Matt Gould (ACR) and the evergreen Guy Green.
The big B Grade field raced a fairly attacking race, with constant attacks stringing the bunch out. Michael Taffe (ACR) and Shane Mills (O'Mara Cycles) were among the early attackers, with Priska Doppmann also keen for a hard hit out before moving on to the World Cup and Tour de Snowy, riding strongly off the front with Niall McDonagh, but at the half way point, the bunch had regrouped.
Two strongmen combined in the most threatening attack of the day, with Damien Power combining with Justin Davis (O'Mara Cycles), who had unsuccessfully tried to remove the evidence of his participation in today's early morning Gatorade Triathlon at Elwood. Unfortunately, those permanent black textas don't come off with saliva, so he was fooling no-one, and traditional cycling morals ensured he was chased down!
A couple of late solo efforts came to nothing, and the field was together at three to go. Noted trackie Rob Tidey (O'Mara Cycles) took a 20 meter gap into the final corner, and just held on for the win ahead of yours truly, Nick Gibson (Avanti Cycles) and Danny Weatherley.
Only three girls raced in B Grade today, as many have headed up north to begin final preparation for the International races. Helen Kelly had a hard workout at the front of the bunch, while Priska Doppmann maintained good position in the first 20 after her earlier efforts off the front. Cheryl Hickman (Bicycle Superstore) in her first B Grade race, stuck like a limpet to Doppmann, hoping to use her good sprint at the finish, but in the end the experience of the Swiss rider propelled her to another win.
C and D Grade numbers were a little down, as many junior and women riders were racing the Victorian Individual Pursuit titles at Vodafone Arena. Racing was still as competitive as ever, and as is the norm, every attack brought a swift reaction from the bunch.
Milo Answerth took his last C Grade win, earning promotion to B Grade with a good sprint ahead of Neil Johnson, Justin 'Jackie' Dovaston and David Buntin.
The D Grade win went to Mark Simmons, ahead of first time rider Kristy Bartoli, Shane Whitely and Adrian Marty.
A Grade - 1 hour + 3 laps 1 Robert Tighello (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Leigh Egan (Shepparton CC) 3 Leigh De Luca (Noble Park-Dandenong CC) 4 Thaddeus Roos (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 5 Matt Gould (Blackburn CC) 6 Guy Green (Blackburn CC) B Grade - 1 hour + 3 laps 1 Robert Tidey (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Mal Sawford (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Nick Gibson (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Danny Weatherley (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 1st Woman: Priska Doppmann (Switzerland) 2nd Woman: Helen Kelly (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) C Grade (45 mins + 3 laps) 26 starters 1 Graham Answerth (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Neil Johnson 3 Justin Dovaston (Noble Park-Dandenong CC) 4 David Buntin (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) D Grade - 45 minutes + 3 laps 1 Mark Simmons (Blackburn CC) 2 Kristy Bartoli (Blackburn CC) 3 Shane Whitely (Italo-Australian CC 4 Adrian Marty (Italo-Australian CC)
Previous Australian Results