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Warrnambool Grand Prix Criterium - NE
Victoria, Australia, October 23, 2005
Scotsman claims first international win
By Rod Morris in Warrnambool
An international trifecta heralded the inaugural Warrnambool Grand Prix criterium as an outstanding success and augurs well for its future. That was the punch line in Warrnambool today as Scotland's Evan Oliphant claimed the biggest win of his short cycling career.
Oliphant was a deserving winner of the $3500 event, heading home Poland's Artur Krzeszowiec, Englishman, Kristian House - who was riding on a Bianchi loaned bike after his own machine had been stolen at the end of last week's Herald Sun Tour - and Australian Tommy Nankervis, who shared third spot.
Bianchi came on board as the major sponsor of the famed Melbourne to Warrnambool race, which was held on Saturday and the firm also came to the rescue of House.
The Warrnambool Grand Prix came into being as a means of supporting the Melbourne to Warrnambool, which has existed since 1895 and today's field of 40 A Grade riders put on a show for the local fans.
Oliphant, Lithuanian rider Dainius Kairelis and local Warrnambool cyclist Andrew Graham made an early break on the field and collected the majority of the intermediate sprints - which also carried an attractive cash incentive.
After 11 intermediate sprints, the trio were locked together on 20 points, Oliphant and Graham each scoring 4 wins, 2 seconds and 4 thirds, with Kairelis, 2 wins, 6 seconds and 2 thirds.
Raced over 30 laps of a 900 metre circuit in drizzly conditions, riders also had to contend with one dodgy corner just prior to the home straight.
"Things were a bit slippery out there, particular on the third corner," Oliphant said.
The Scotsman has been in Australia for three weeks, competing in the Herald Sun Tour and the Melbourne to Warrnambool before today's success.
"I didn't have a real good Herald Sun Tour and had to pull out of the Melbourne to Warrnambool after about 180 km, but I felt a lot better today," he said.
Oliphant, Kairelis and Graham were gobbled up by the chasing bunch with just two laps to go, but the Scotsman was able to hang in there, refresh his legs and find something extra in the final sprint to the line.
Oliphant had just metres to spare from the fast finishing Krzeszowiec, House and Nankervis.
Judges were forced to go the camera to determine the minor placings, but decreed that House and Nankervis dead-heated.
Oliphant returns home to Wick in North Scotland on Monday, but will be back in Australia in December with fellow members of his country's Commonwealth Games squad.
"I'm not sure what races we will be doing in Australia, but I would like to go to Tasmania for the Christmas Carnivals, as I have heard a lot about them," he said.
Oliphant is expected to compete in the points score and scratch races on the track and in the road race in next year's Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
Prior to winning the Warrnambool Grand Prix, the closest to success Oliphant had enjoyed was second in a stage of this year's Tour of Britain and second in the Sprint Championship in the same tour.
Only 18 riders managed to finish the A Grade race with the newly crowned Melbourne to Warrnambool winner, Jonas Ljungblad of Sweden in a disappointing 15th.
Jade Frankel, the president of the Warrnambool Cycling Club, flew the flag for the local riders, by finishing in fifth place.
The B Grade criterium, raced just prior to the main event saw baby-faced 17-year-old Dale Hately of Camperdown score the biggest win of his career.
Hately was part of a six man breakaway, which lapped the main field. Hately won from Marcus Wettenhall of Ballarat and Brunswick's Peter O'Callaghan.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rod Morris
A Grade 1 Evan Oliphant (Scotland) 0.36.32 2 Artur Krzeszowiec (Poland) 3 Kristian House (England) 3 Tommy Nankervis (Carnegie Caulfield) 5 Jade Frankel (Warrnambool) 6 Paul Healion (Ireland) 7 Andrew Graham (Port Fairy) 8 Eugene Moriarty (Ireland) 9 David Harrigan (NSW) 10 Ben Greenwood (England) Sprints 1 Andrew Graham (Port Fairy) 20 pts 2 Evan Oliphant (Scotland) 20 3 Dainius Kairelis (Lithuania) 20 4 Eugene Moriarty (Ireland) 3 5 Russell Van Hout (Australia) 2 6 Tommy Nankervis (Australia) 1 B Grade 1 Dylan Hately (Camperdown) 0.39.36 2 Marcus Wettenhall (Ballarat) 3 Peter O'Callaghan (Brunswick) 4 Scott Brown (St Kilda) 5 Robert Kelly (Carnegie Caulfield) 6 Tom McDonough (Coburg) 7 Shannon Bell (Colac) 8 Dale Haywood (Geelong) 9 Andrew Dickinson (Hamilton) 10 David Ogilvie (Ballarat) Sprints 1 Marcus Wettenhall (Ballarat) 25 pts 2 Scott Brown (St Kilda) 23 3 Peter O'Callaghan (Brunswick) 15 4 Dylan Hately (Camperdown) 2 5 Robert Kelly (Carnegie Caulfield) 1