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Eastern Suburbs Cycling Club
Heffron Park, Sydney, December 13, 2005
Hat trick for speed machine Steve Fitzpatrick
By John Sunde
Steve Fitzpatrick unleashed another awesome sprint finish to win his third consecutive Tuesday night Heffron Park race and possibly record one of the most impressive run of victories witnessed in NSW club racing for sometime. Not only has the St George track star collected a hat trick of wins in the cauldron of Heffron's popular graded handicap format, he has also recorded three successive wins in Sutherland Cycling Club's weekly Friday night criterium at Waratah Park. While most riders would be grateful for just one win, which this rider certainly is (but more on that later), speed machine Fitzy has notched up six consecutive wins in three weeks. Congratulations Steve.
A threatening southerly change which swept in late afternoon obviously deterred a few regulars with race takings down again as only 80 riders lined up for the last handicap race of the year, before next week's Eastern Suburbs Trophy Race finale. The strong southerly was a welcome change as riders rocketed over the back section of the course, hitting 60km/h instead of the usual headwind grovel. US Jelly Belly pro Ben Brooks, another highly accomplished St George rider was a welcome addition to A grade who joined a hard core field of 17 riders. B grade were by far the largest bunch with 35 riders, and this week came so close to an outright win that only their ability to snatch a defeat out of the jaws of victory prevented them from claiming overall honours.
B grade were on a mission from the gun with you know who on the front driving it out of the blocks - joining Paul Rowney was Tony Iannacito, Steve Orfanos and Easts sleeper, Adam Radford. It took an exhausting five laps to catch them but even then B grade continued to ride an aggressive race which saw the bunch reduce to 15 riders at the halfway point. C grade also had an explosive start, obviously boosted by the talented female trio of Jenny Manefield, Laura Bortolozzi and aspiring Queensland track rider Sally Cowman.
With three laps to go B grade had their best chance of the season to nail a tiring C grade but clearly their earlier efforts had started to take their toll as most were reluctant to put in the three or four big turns which would have easily put them in the box seat on the last lap. With two laps to go, enough was enough for expectant dad John Kenny who launched a bold attack with the advantage of the tailwind. He rounded up C grade easily enough but the headwind effort down the straight was just a little too much as the A grade express came roaring through at the bell.
Pete McDonald, who spent 16 out of 17 laps in a solo breakaway during last Saturday's Randwick Botany race, then decided it was time for an almost full lap lead out to cart team mate Robbie Cater. It almost worked, but a big kick from the white knight Liam Kelly about 400m out gave Steve Fitzpatrick the perfect ride to the line where he just held out Robbie Cater who must be so close to a win soon he can almost smell the roses. Liam Kelly was the only other rider to challenge and he easily took third and goes home happy as the only other local rider to notch up an A grade win with a fine double in the first two weeks. Lil' bro Pete proved that big bro didn't get all of Laurie's cycling genes when he grabbed fourth spot to finish in the top 5 for the third consecutive week and capping off his best race of the year, Trent Iliffe finished in fifth spot in his last race at Heffron as he heads off to Shanghai in the new year to cash in on the property boom.
Have I mentioned who won B grade yet?. OK, this how it unfolded....just joking. John Sunde somehow proved you don't have to be in Easts, an ex Olympian or thirtysomething when he got one back for the fiftysomething's to claim 1st B grade and of course give St George another win for the night. Also part of the St George family during her training sojourn in Sydney, lively Brisbane girl Sally Cowman celebrated the first female win in C grade for a number of years in only her second ride at Heffron Park.
So after six action packed races over seven weeks, Steve Fitzpatrick walks away with early season honours as King of Heffron. Conspicuously absent from the winners list of course is Anthony Spurgeon - however, Spurge has already calculated that three wins is all he needs next year to take out another Trek Bikes Summer Series which gets underway on Tuesday 10 January 2005.
Next Tuesday is the annual, much talked about and much talked up Eastern Suburbs trophy race. Two graded races, A/B grades over 20 laps for the Trophy, and a separate B/C grade race over 15 laps. Maybe it's the hot weather, maybe it's a good Xmas trading season, but Easts No 1 man and official helmet inspector has announced a very attractive prizelist for next week's Trophy Race of $1000. Yes, that's $1,000.00 or one thousand dollars paying the top 10 in the Trophy race and the top five in the support race.
Will speed machine Fitzy make it four in a row, will last year's winner Jose Rodriguez remember the way to Heffron Park and line up to defend his title or will Spurge pull off the big pre-Xmas win?
1 Steve Fitzpatrick (St George) 2 Robert Cater (Randwick Botany) 3 Liam Kelly (Randwick Botany) 4 Peter Fitzpatrick (St George) 5 Trent Iliffe (Easts) B Grade John Sunde (St George) C Grade Sally Cowman (Ffast, Qld)
Local results 2004