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Perth criterium series - NE
Perth, January 25-28, 2008
Stage 1 - January 25: Day 1, Joondalup
Young guns prevail
There was no time to settle into the race for the open men, with British time trial and pursuit champion Matt Illingworth keen to breakaway early from the more fancied sprinters. After a solo attempt to leave the group behind failed, Illingworth found an allie in the form of eastern states cyclist Joel Pearson.
Illingworth and Pearson look set to make a clean break, before young gun Adam Semple chased them down while the group could only look on. Semple is a member of the Western Australian Institute of Sport elite squad and has recently lived in the shadow of the up and coming Meyer brothers, Cameron and Travis.
Semple, both Meyer brothers and Ben King combined to ride for the Cyclemania team which was widely tipped to be the team to beat. While Cameron Meyer is considered the team's best chance to victory, the 18 year old Semple wanted to do some early damage.
"I definitely wanted to make the race tough for the sprinters so I knew I had to go early," said Semple. "It was bloody hard to make the initial gap [to catch Illingworth and Pearson] but once I caught them I felt better and better as the race went on."
The three cyclists made a formidable breakaway and extended their lead on most laps until Travis Meyer decided to shake the group up and close in on the leader's break.
"The initial three guys seemed to far in front to catch on my own but I thought if I could stay away I'll come fourth," said Meyer.
After a gallant effort, Meyer managed to leave the group behind for four laps before being swallowed up as the group saw the finish draw closer.
Meanwhile, at the front of the race the three leaders started to use tactics as the final lap bell rang out. Semple knew he had to make his move early, with his sprint not his strong point.
"I attacked with half a lap to go when they weren't looking and nearly foxed them but then coming out of the final corner they made up some ground," said Semple. "Joel had been sitting in until then and came around to take the win."
Semple originally accepted third place behind Pearson and Illingworth before video footage showed Semple clearly was in second place. The final standings showed Pearson victorious, Semple in second and an unlucky Illingworth in third place.
"At the beginning of the final sprint I blew a tyre," said Illingworth.
Illingworth still finished strongly, only narrowly edged out by Pearson and Semple. The race didn't pan out according to plan for Cameron Meyer, but he's looking forward to being the underdog for once.
"Team wise we did alright tonight with a third, fifth and sixth but it's probably a good thing not to have the yellow jersey, because now we'll be making the other teams work in the next few races," said Meyer.
In the women's race, British champion Emma Pooley schooled the rest of the field on how to win a criterium. The experienced captain of Team Specialized in Europe, Pooley made her break after ten minutes in the group and extended her lead every lap.
"I was working really hard out there, I've got no sprint in me so I had to breakaway," said Pooley.
Pooley finished strongly and had time to enjoy the moment, punching her fist up to the sky as she crossed the line. After chasing hard with little reward, the group was ready to battle for the sprint honours and second place. Sharon Suckling just edged out Kelly Harry who took the minor placings.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Troy Coulthard/trievents.com.au/perthcrits
Elite men 1 Joel Pearson 2 Adam Semple 3 Matt Illingworth Women 1 Emma Pooley 2 Sharon Suckling 3 Kelly Harry