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A surprisingly good turn out after a miserable day of rain and persistent drizzle in Melbourne. In a turn up for the books, the usual 'rain magnet' that is the AFL Park stadium was spared the worst of the weather, and although light drizzle fell during the early races, and the circuit stayed wet, it was not enough to keep too many away.
Hilton Clarke (SBR) returned to his usual place on top of the podium after his uncharacteristic fourth place finish on the weekend with another impressive display. While he was closely marked by the small elite field he still managed to get away early in the company of Matt Chessum, Chris Bradford (CBD Cycles) and junior track endurance specialist David Tanner (ProMotion Cycles/VIS).
Rob Young (SBR) made a valiant effort to cross the gap, but three punctures on the wet roads put paid to his chances; with multiple flats to Swiss Under 23 star Ralph Zimmerman and Geordan Murray also contributing to exhausting the supply of spare wheels from the sidelines!
Jonny Clarke (ProMotion Cycles/VIS).succeeded in bridging at the 20 minute mark, and with his input it was obvious the chasers would not see the five again. Hilton Clarke obviously felt that he hadn't made things tough enough, and broke things up again at the half way point in the race, and only Tanner could follow. While the bunch regained the rest of the original break, the leading pair extended their advantage to over 50 seconds with 10 minutes remaining in the race.
Crowd favorite and possible promoter of the Carnegie Caulfield Six Day Race, Doug Garley (Terry Hammond Cycles), soloed off the front of the bunch into the head wind with a little over two laps remaining, and held the rest off with the crowd cheering him on and a great effort to claim third place. Chessum tried a similar move on bell lap to deny the sprinters any joy, but came up just short, with the younger Clarke getting up with five meters to spare.
Clarke rode away from young Tanner on the final lap to score another good win, and looks like being able to announce some good news on the international front in the next few days.
Big Adam Bonney had a brief effort of the front of the B Grade bunch, the biggest field on the day, before things regrouped and stayed pretty much intact until around 20 minutes to go, when the attacks started to get a little more serious. Colin Rourke in his return to racing, spent a few laps away swapping turns with Danny Weatherley and Mark Howard before the bunch chased them down.
Next to go was strong man Bruce Will, with Frank Cipriano for company. Will is a good yardstick for the B Grade bunch, and is rarely in an unsuccessful break. The bunch briefly brought him back, before he combined with Paul Kennedy, Eddy Perez and Darren Gordon at the 48 minute mark. Shane Mills chased the growing gap solo making the front group five, and once again, it was all over for the rest of the field.
In a tight sprint, Will was the early leader, before tiring 50 meters out, and allowing Kennedy to flash home first. 'Not quite so Fast' Eddy claimed second today, from Will and Mills, with Melton's Gordon the unlucky unplaced rider. James Giannakakis (Bicycle Superstore), while arriving too late to race today cleaned up at the kiosk, scoring four sausages for 50 cents; his best result this season!
Ross Edwards took out the C Grade event after a fairly close tussle between the evenly matched riders. Rob Pagey had spent some time off the front, but the race always appeared destined to end up in bunch kick. Edwards lead out early, and seemed sure that someone had to come past, checking over both shoulders three or four times, but crossing the line a clear winner ahead of Chelsea Club President Ben Noyes who just rolled Darryl Annells on the line, and triathlete Tony McGarrigle.
The D Grade bunch also stayed together for the duration of their race, and it was pleasing to see all the women competitors in contention at the start of the final lap. Rowan Geddes took out the sprint ahead of Leongatha stalwart Lyndsay Love, Ray Smith and Tony Gill.
Good women's fields today in both B and D Grades, with WA's Christine Bayley, in town for the major track meets at Vodafone Arena, making her first appearance at the venue. The damp conditions weren't quite to her liking, and the B Grade event was taken out for the second time in succession by Swiss star Priska Dopmann from Katrina Purcell. Ingrid Alexander narrowly missed out on an outright place in D Grade to take the money ahead of Jessica Tanner and Metro Track Champs star Tess Downing.
A Grade (1 hour + 3 laps) 13 starters 1 Hilton Clarke (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 David Tanner (Benalla CC) 3 Doug Garley (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Jonny Clarke (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) B Grade (55 minutes + 3 laps) 29 starters 1 Paul Kennedy (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Eddy Perez (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Bruce Will (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Shane Mills (Footscray CC) Unplaced Women: Priska Dopmann (Switzerland) C Grade (50 minutes + 3 laps) 22 starters 1 Ross Edwards (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Ben Noyes (Chelsea & Peninsula CC) 3 Darryl Annells (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Tony McGarrigle (Noble Park-Dandenong CC) D Grade (50 minutes + 3 laps) 16 starters 1 Rowan Geddes (Blackburn CC) 2 Lyndsay Love (Leongatha CC) 3 Ray Smith (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Tony Gill (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC) Unplaced Women: Ingrid Alexander (Balance Carnegie Caulfield CC)
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