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Perth criterium series - NE
Perth, January 25-28, 2008
Stage 4 - January 28: Day 4, Leederville
Thrilling end to a great weekend of racing
There was no need to hold back in the final race, the riders laying all their cards on the table for the latte sippers and gelato lickers lining the streets of Leederville.
Jordan Van der Togt, the yellow jersey holder in the support race, knew he had to keep an eye on those close to him in the points tally to win the series title and glued himself to the rear wheel of champion triathlete Sean O'Neil. Half way through the race, Michael Kent (Cyclemania) made a big move which O'Neill was ready for and surged to go with him. Van Der Togt also covered the move and the three formed a strong breakaway group which would not see the main bunch again.
The excitement to follow would prove crucial to the overall series ranking, with O'Neill and Van der Togt duelling to finish on top of the series leader board - O'Neil needing the win to have any chance of toppling the current leader Van der Togt who needed to finish within one place of O'Neill to stay on top.
The final few minutes proved to be dramatic - Van der Togt flatted and wasn't allowed to rejoin the race, as they were in final five laps. Then in the last lap, Kent over shot the sharp left hand corner putting himself and O'Neil into the barriers. O'Neil flatted and was left to run for the finish line. By this stage, it was too late and the main bunch caught them with Raf Baugh jumping away from the main group taking first place, Jayson Puls winning the sprint for second over Dan Gooch.
Van der Togt had enough points to just retain the series lead, with team-mate Michael Frieburg in second and Raf Baugh lucky to slide into third place in the absence of points for O'Neil.
The women's race went more to plan. Emma Pooley, demonstrated her immense class against the tough WA competitors who took it to her every day of the series. Jessica Allen was impressive, riding off the front and holding her own for many laps - picking up four primes in the process - before the peloton engulfed her in the final five minutes.
Pooley, a professional cyclist in England put the hammer down in the final laps and rode away from the group in style, leaving the other riders to battle it out for second place. Sharon Suckling again demonstrated her sprinting prowess, overpowering the others to take second with a fast finishing Davina Summers taking her first podium place for the series.
Pooley's win confirmed her series win while Sharon Suckling was consistently strong to take second and Sarah Fraser rounded out the top three.
The open men's race was just as nail biting with only three points separating first from third, the yellow jersey was on Adam Semple's back with Joel Pearson ranked second and Cameron Meyer in third.
The Cyclemania team tactics were evident from the first laps as Travis Meyer jumped clear of the bunch. Hilton McMurdo and James Spragg quickly jumped across to him, leaving the Atomic Brooks riders to try to bridge the gap for Joel Pearson.
A second break formed with two more Cyclemania riders including series leader Semple and Pearson. After gallant efforts throughout the series, it was no surprise to see young gun Semple make a solo move from this group to join the front break. Semple was keen to leave a lasting impression on the race pulling turns with Meyer to ensure the break was never in doubt.
A solid chase group formed behind them with Cameron Meyer, Pearson, Eddie Hollands and Nathan Jones which was a wise move as the lead group lapped the majority of the field including the main bunch.
The effects of previous days of racing seemed to go unnoticed by Semple as he surged past the group, setting up a game of 'catch me if you can' for the other riders. Meyer was able to respond and caught Semple after a lap, while McMurdo dropped behind and Spragg looked ready to call it a day. For the Cyclemania team-mates, the race was working out perfectly.
Meyer was too strong in the end, taking the sprint from Semple, both pumping their fists and enjoying their wins. Semple was humbled by his win, proving he would not only be a star of the future but a good sportsman at that.
"We did have a plan for today, we had a couple of cards to play and it really didn't matter who won from the team," Semple said. "Cameron and I were both in the top three so it didn't matter who won because we work as a team, we rely so much on each other."
"Cam and Trav have eight world championships between them, Ben King was second in the longest race in the world 'Warnambool' and then you have Matt Illingworth who is one of the strongest time triallists in the world," said Semple. "It hasn't sunk in yet, it is just surreal that I won against those guys because they are really high calibre cyclists."
Behind Semple, Cameron Meyer beat Pearson to take second in the overall points leaving the Cyclemania with the first two riders overall. Pearson took third after some big performances in the first two races.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Troy Coulthard/trievents.com.au/perthcrits
Images by Brett Russell
Elite men 1 Travis Meyer 2 Adam Semple 3 Cameron Meyer 4 Joel Pearson Women 1 Emma Pooley 2 Sharon Suckling 3 Sarah Fraser Support men 1 Raf Baugh 2 Jayson Puls 3 Dan Gooch