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Bike Bug 500 - NE

Sydney, NSW, Australia, December 20, 2008


Brownie makes it two in a row

By John Sunde

Rabobank sprinter Graeme Brown loves racing and loves winning. This week he's had a lot of racing, but not as much winning as he would have liked. Fourth in the Australian Criterium Championship in Cronulla last Sunday and a surprise second to Josiah Ng (Malaysia) in the Melbourne Cup on Wheels on Thursday night wasn't the way Brown planned to finish his season. Fortunately he returned to his winning ways when he successfully defended his Big Bug 500 title with an emphatic sprint finish at Sydney's Heffron Park circuit, but not before a thrilling challenge from local rider Tim Willing (Easts/Multiplex Living).

"Coming from a track background I don't mind cutting the grass sometimes," Willing said. "Having riders of this quality, it was great to have a go with them."

Brown certainly had a go when he launched his sprint in the right-hand gutter and with the left side covered he was confident. "There was no way anyone was going to get past me on the inside," he said. "Good lesson I guess."

Lining up with Brownie were two other Sydney professionals: Chris Sutton (Garmin-Chipotle) and Trent Wilson (Jittery Joe's). The pair are also in the middle of their preparation for the Australian Open Road National titles in January.

Anthony Spurgeon (Caravello) won the first Bike Bug 500 in 2006 and was back with a strong contingent of A grade riders for this year's race. With most of the locals waiting for the first move to come from professional riders the opening laps were pretty steady. Blair Martin (North Sydney/KOM Cyclery) was the first to liven up the race with Reuben Donati (Byron Bay) in tow.

A lap later at the half way mark it was altogether again before Dave Evans (North Sydney/KOM Cyclery), Robbie Cater (Panasonic/NSWIS) and Scott Kilmartin (Qld) opened up an impressive 25 second gap on the bunch. It stayed that way for another four laps but then it was down to business. After a few half lap turns from the professionals the bunch disintegrated and a chasing group of nine riders - Brown, Sutton, Wilson, Willing, Anthony Bennett (Lidcombe Auburn), Ben Isaksen (Lidcombe Auburn), Luke Cridland (Panasonic/NSWIS), Blair Martin and James Ibrahim (Decked Out Coaching) - joined the front three riders to race it out to the finish.

A bold solo move by Cridland looked impressive, but it was going to a be long shot for one of the locals to ride away from Brown and company. It was still another local, a very surprised Isaksen, who bolted home for third. "I surprised myself - I just came straight from work where I've been on my feet all day selling bikes," said Isaksen.


1 Graeme Brown (Rabobank)
2 Tim Willing
3 Ben Isaksen
4 Chris Sutton (Garmin-Chipotle)
5 Robbie Cater