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Heffron Park, Sydney, November 1, 2005

History in the making

By John Sunde

Jono Cridland (right)
Photo ©: Stuart Baker
Click for larger image

After all the excitement of Makybe Diva's record breaking win in the Melbourne Cup settled down, another sporting milestone was recorded on Tuesday night when the 20th season of Tuesday night racing at Heffron Park heralded the start of the Sydney summer criterium season.

The 30km graded handicap format was the brainchild of former Eastern Suburbs Club President, Harry Scott and after the first race on 29 October 1985, Tuesday night racing at Heffron Park has become one of Sydney's most popular summer racing venues, consistently attracting high quality fields every summer. It's become the must do race for countless local riders and a steady procession of international stars over the years. Things have changed in 20 years though, most notably the entry fee is no longer $2. Back then when Bernard Hinault won the Tour/Giro double using a new clipless pedal and Joop Zoetemelk won the World Title at a young 39yo, the rest of us where riding around on sturdy steel frames, with Campag Super Record, Binda straps, Benotto bar tape and Mavic blues.

Making history not war!
Photo ©: Stuart Baker
Click for larger image

A glance over the start list from 1985 shows, there's a few riders still riding, competing and enjoying life on the bike - Greg Rule is most often spotted doing long rides in preparation for the odd Ironman. Kim Proctor has taken endurance riding to a new level and has just completed his 3rd Crocodile Trophy through the outback. Peter Coulson, who was only 15 in 1985, is more at home coaching his wife Michele Jones who was second in her first Hawaii Ironman last month. Roy O'Toole is still a familiar face at Heffron Park, while Stan La Vin is more familiar around the Gold Coast and keen to make a comeback.

If you have an old photo of Heffron from the 80's, email it with caption to cyclingnews, to feature as the weekly Blast from the Past. The best photo/caption will win a pair of $200 Briko eyewear, winning entry announced after 13 December.

C Grade open the season with a convincing win
76 riders lined up for the opening race of the summer season and once gain the familiar plea of, "Oh please Frank, I'm not going so well, can I start in B grade, C grade, just any grade but A grade!" could be heard prior to the race start. It must have worked, as former Olympic mountain biker, Paul Rowney was all smiles sitting comfy on the start line in B grade, while a very skinny field of only a dozen A grade lined up for the 1min 30sec chase.

Josh Fleming drives the A grade break
Photo ©: Stuart Baker
Click for larger image

And chase they did, but to no avail as the 30 strong C grade bunch stayed well clear alnight to easily take the cleansweep of the first 5 places. In the charge for the line, fast improving Richard Westmoreland (Randwick Botany) held off fast finishing and in form junior rider Jono Cridland (Southern Cross). An early casualty in A grade was local King of Heffron, Anthony Spurgeon (Colnago - Caravello) who is desperately seeking some form. B grade where finally caught with 7 laps to go, but not before Paul Rowney (Easts), Alan Bozunovic (Easts) and Mick Murdoch (Randwick Botany) had tried to make a go of it on their own.

In the closing laps, it was another mountain biker, Josh Fleming who was taking the race to the roadies as his 3 laps to go attack proved to be the winning move. Visiting Perth rider Tim Willing and Easts big motor, Stewart Campbell then got across, but the ultimate move came from Liam Kelly (Randwick Botany) who was left to bridge to the break on his own, then time his run perfectly to just get Computer on the line for the narrowest of wins.

In the race for B grade honours, former Sydney rider recently returned from the UK, Brett Pirez caught the locals napping to convincingly win the B grade gallop.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Stuart Baker

Results

1 Richard Westmoreland (Randwick Botany)    
2 Jonathon Cridland (Southern Cross)        
3 Karl Bellamy (Randwick Botany)            
4 Peter O'Connor (Easts)                    
5 Neil Morris (Randwick Botany)             
 
A Grade
 
1 Liam Kelly                                
 
B Grade
 
1 Brett Pirez (UK)                           

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