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Karak Classic - NE
Melbourne, Australia, January 29, 2006
Jonathon Clarke shows how it's done
By Mal Sawford in Melbourne
Carnegie Caulfield's biggest ever field of 270 riders flocked to a once in a life time opportunity to tackle part of the course which will be used for the Commonwealth Games Road Race on March 26. M2006 organisers needed to train staff and trial their set up for the big day, including road closures and the race convoy, and invited CCCC to relocate from Glenvale Crescent for the day. Unsurprisingly, the CCCC Committee were only too happy to accept! The event was named the Karak Classic: Karak (a South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo) is the Mascot for the M2006 Games.
The 2.9-kilometre course circled Melbourne's landmark Shrine of Remembrance, with the start line located on Birdwood Avenue between the Shrine and the Royal Botanic Gardens. From the start, riders raced downhill to a tight left hand corner onto St Kilda Road, then into a slight headwind before another left onto a gentle climb up Domain Road. The corner back onto Birdwood Avenue was the trickiest, doubling back on itself and kicking sharply up, stringing out the bunches each lap.
The B, C and D Grade riders shared the circuit to kick off the Classic, followed by the elite and sport women. Wrapping up a great day of racing was the 77-rider elite men's field, which included Australian Under 23 road champion Will Walker (Rabobank), 2006 Jayco Bay Classic winner Hilton Clarke (Navigators) and Jonathon and Simon Clarke of the new SouthAustralia.com-AIS Cycling team. The overnight forecast was for Saturday's rain to continue through the morning, but the weather gods were kind and the rain stayed away, with the final races run in warm but very humid conditions.
After the opening lap kicked off at terrific speed, and with Brendan Rowbotham (SHM) starting the attacks, a counter attack on only the second lap saw Pat Shaw (VIS) go clear, accompanied by the (un-related) Jonathon and Simon Clarke. Walker shot across the gap with an amazing turn of speed, and Warren Knevitt (O'Mara Cycles) also made a brave but unsuccessful attempt to reach the leaders, who hovered around ten seconds in front of the bunch.
Some big turns from Julian Dutton (BikeNOW) and Barcelona Olympian Robert Crowe (TAC - Share the Road) weren't enough to make any inroads on the four leaders, however, who were combining perfectly to extend their lead. At the thirty minute mark, the lead had grown to thirty seconds, and it was obvious the bunch was racing for fifth.
With two in the group, the pressure was on the SouthAustralia.com boys to come
up with the win. Simon was the popular pick amongst the crowd, having won the
past two Australian Under 23 Criterium Championships, and finishing second in
the young rider classification of the Tour Down Under the week before, but it
was Jonathon who seized the initiative and attacked off the front of the group
to solo home for the win.
The Women's races also doubled as Round 1 of the Tri-Alliance Cycle Coaching Super Summer Criterium Series. Featuring two intermediate sprints, the elite women's bunch stayed intact until after the first sprint, which saw two of Australia's most promising juniors fight for the win, with Tess Downing (Drapac-Porsche Development Program) just holding off Lisa Friend (Bianchi) and Mary Rogers (Kathy Watt's Personal Training) for the win.
Approaching the second sprint, Emma Rickards (Univega) went on the attack,
along with Helen Kelly (ex Rona and Quark rider) and a member of Australia's
2005 road world championships team. The pair didn't contest the sprint, as they
set about extending their advantage, with the 'win' taken by Kelly, while back
in the bunch Rogers mopped up the final prize once again.
The women's support race saw a well matched group, many of who were experiencing their first 'women only' race, usually racing in mixed C, D and E grade fields. Malta's Commonwealth Games hope Stephania Magri tried to split the field, but was reeled in by a well organised chase, and the race came down to a bunch sprint.
Fittingly, a Tri-Alliance pupil, Clare Vlahopolous, came up with quickest sprint, taking the win by a wheel from Kerrie Howard (Fitzroy Cycles), Brittany Foster (Uno) and Meaghan Godfrey, with Louise Bourke a narrow fifth.
The B grade men's race was marred by the only fall of the day, with big Wayne
Flint flipping over a rider who clipped the barricades as they flew past the
finish area. The race was cut short one lap to allow the ambulance onto the
circuit to treat Wayne, who fortunately escaped without serious injury.
Both C and D Grade were decided with bunch kicks, with BMX veteran David Comport (Nepean Cycles) too for Nick Pannou and Adam Woods in C Grade, and Clint McDonnell an impressive winner in D Grade ahead of Marcel Musco (Brunetti Coffee) and Nick Robinson.
The circuit received rave reviews from all, and special thanks go to Mike Victor, Karin Jones and Liz Taylor and the M2006 Cycling Team for all their hard work in making the Karak Classic possible. Thanks also to the M2006 staff and volunteers training as course marshals, communications and security, the Shimano Neutral Service team led by Agostino Giramondo and Terry Hammond, Matt Keenan from SEN Sports Radio for his commentary and the Commissaires panel led by Karen O'Callaghan. All races were also sponsored by Smooth Ride Australia, with place getters collecting prizes from Maxim recovery products and Pro-Link Chain Lube.
From the Club, our usual team of Lorraine Collings, Doug Moody, Ann Johnstone, Frank Cipriano and Heather Friend were joined by Brian Reeves (time keeper and chief judge), while Dave Eadie, Darren Cathie, Pete Johnstone and Helen and Bob Kelly joined 'Cipo' as riding marshals for the support races. All races were also sponsored by Smooth Ride Australia, with place getters collecting prizes from Maxim recovery products and Pro-Link Chain Lube.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mal Sawford
Elite Men - 45 minutes + 3 laps 1 Jonathan Clarke (South Australia.com/AIS) 2 Simon Clarke (South Australia.com/AIS) 3 Will Walker (Rabobank) 4 Pat Shaw (Ballarat-Sebastapol) 5 Tommy Nankervis (Carnegie Caulfield) 6 Alex Smyth (Carnegie Caulfield) Elite Women - 45 minutes + 2 laps 1 Emma Rickards (Univega) 2 Helen Kelly (Carnegie Caulfield) 3 Peta Mullens (VIS) 4 Tess Downing (Drapac-Porsche) B Grade Men - 45 minutes + 2 laps 1 Shaun Gatter (Footscray) 2 Clint Van Beveren (Carnegie Caulfield) 3 Nick Palecek (Carnegie Caulfield) 4 Andrew Curtain (Carnegie Caulfield) 5 Matt Curnow (Carnegie Caulfield) Sport Women - 45 minutes + 2 laps 1 Clare Vlahopolous (Carnegie Caulfield) 2 Kerrie Howard (Carnegie Caulfield) 3 Brittany Foster (Geelong) 4 Meaghan Godfrey (Carnegie Caulfield) C Grade - 45 minutes + 2 laps 1 David Comport (Carnegie Caulfield) 2 Nick Pannou (Blackburn) 3 Adam Wood (Blackburn) 4 Brent O'Shannessy (Hawthorn) D Grade - 40 minutes + 2 laps 1 Clint McDonnell (Carnegie Caulfield) 2 Marcel Musco (Carnegie Caulfield) 3 Nick Robinson (Carnegie Caulfield) 4 Michael Milewski (Carnegie Caulfield)