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Eastern Suburb Cycling Club
Heffron Park, Sydney, November 8, 2005
C grade hang on in the wind as Jono Cridland wins
17 year old junior Jono Cridland (Southern Cross) made no mistake of the win this week when he easily outsprinted the C grade bunch to claim the winner's envelope at Heffron Park. There are two things you can always guarantee at Heffron Park during summer and both were in full cry on Tuesday night. One was the wind, coming in at 65km gusts down the home straight and the other was yet another masterful display from Francesco Alcino Conceicao on the art of handicapping, directing the mighty Easts juggernaut and of course reciting the UCI rule handbook on helmet laws.
As it turned out, dealing with the wind was the easiest, simply because it can only come at you from one of two directions - you know one direction is going to be a grovel and hurt like hell and the other direction is going to be damn fast and still hurt like hell. Understanding how riders get graded on Tuesday night is a far more complex and mysterious formula. Form obviously doesn't come into the equation, otherwise how would the second placegetter in a NSW open crit from the weekend and an in-form mountain bike pro line up in B grade, keep a straight face and ride off with the B grade envelope. Did I mention the riders who love to smash the bunch out training each weekend yet come race night prefer the comfort and security of C grade?
Despite the odd handicapping oversight, which will no doubt be recitified next week along with the much anticipated boost in prizemoney, a huge field of 105 riders lined up for one of the windiest nights on record. C grade had almost 50 riders, a lot of them surprisingly sporting Easts jerseys, while B grade topped 39 riders and A grade were left on the back mark with less than 20 riders and surprisingly only one Easts rider. After five laps battling the north easterly over the pimples, many riders decided they would get better value from their $10 entry by watching the action from the sidelines. An early fall in B grade didn't help matters either.
There were some big efforts in A grade, most notably from the mountain bike duo of Josh Fleming and Pete Hatton, who is switching to the road in 2006 with US pro team Jittery Joes. Others to keep the A grade train in motion were Benny Isaksen, making his summer debut at Heffron Park, Dave 'no more B grade for me' Whyman, Robbie Cater looking fast in white, Hurstville Oval stars Warren Scott and Gavin Bates and of course last week's winner, Liam Kelly, looking as strong as ever.
B grade seemed to lose their mojo at the halfway point as many preferred the comfort of sitting at the back out of the wind, especially the Easts riders who appeared to be taking instructions from the sideline where their Directeur Sportif was waving his hands about telling the Bloc to 'sit in'. With six laps to go the instructions were pretty academic as once A grade were on it was simply a matter of survival.
Even in the confusion of getting four laps to go twice it was obvious the still relatively large C grade bunch were going to stay away for their second consecutive win. Jono Cridland, who was narrowly beaten last week, put in a kick to the line that no one else could come near to finish several lengths in front of the two Randwick Botany Andrews - Portess and Young. Peter O'Connor and Karl Jenner in his first race back at Heffron after 10 years, managed to wave the Easts flag as they rounded out the top five.
With most of the prizemoney gone, A and B grade were left with an envelope each. Backing up from the narrowest of wins last week, Liam Kelly easily accounted for Stewart 'Computer' Campbell in the gallop, while mountain bike Olympian Paul Rowney easily romped home to add his first Heffron Park B grade win to his palmares. A tough nights racing with some very tired legs and lungs, but for the Easts juggernaut it wasn't over yet, as DS Concy lined the Easts riders and their Masils up to give them his best Johann Bruyneel speech - in the meantime, it's Randwick Botany who have jumped away from the field in the pre-Christmas club pointscore.
A reminder that Tuesday night racing starts promptly at 6pm. You'll need a current Cycling Australia licence and it helps to have an Australian Standards approved helmet. If you're planning on racing on Saturdays at Heffron Park, don't forget the change of starting times to 4pm and 5 pm for Randwick Botany club racing.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Stuart Baker
1 Jono Cridland (Southern Cross) 2 Andy Portess (Randwick Botany) 3 Andrew Young (Randwick Botany) 4 Peter O'Connor (Easts) 5 Karl Jenner (Easts) A Grade Liam Kelly (Randwick Botany) B Grade Paul Rowney (Easts) Club Pointscore after week 2 1 Randwick Botany 15 pts 2 UK 5 3 Southern Cross 5 4 Easts 5
Local results 2004