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Eastern Suburbs CC
Heffron Park, NSW, November 21, 2006
Kevin Nichols' quality shines in B grade win
By John Sunde
Tuesday night racing at Heffron Park has traditionally been a unique opportunity for club riders of all abilities to race alongside elite riders on a demanding circuit in an exciting environment generated by the 30km group handicap format. The racing has provided a benchmark for riders to compare themselves against others and to become better, more skilful cyclists. Over the years, there have been many newcomers to the sport who have developed their racing skills at Heffron Park, progressed through the grades and gone onto to compete at State, National and in some cases at international levels.
The most notable recent example is most probably Peter McDonald (Randwick Botany) who 4 years ago first lined up in C grade still in his bike courier t shirt. He progressed through the grades, went onto win Australia's toughest road race the Grafton to Inverell and this year enjoyed a highly successful year riding for FRF Couriers in Europe and America. There have been many other champions who have preceded him from not only the road, but also track, mountain bike riders and triathletes like Ironman Greg Welch.
The key attribute these cyclists always brought to the start line was a fierce determination to ride as hard as they possibly could and finish the race with nothing left in their legs. Sadly these riders, except for a handful of A graders like Troy Glennan, Jose Rodrigeuz, Tim Willing and Paul Rowney no longer seem to exist. Either that or they simply choose to give Tuesday night racing a miss as the general standard of riders now seems to have deterioriated to an all time low, with the goal of most riders being 'how can I stay at the back and not do a turn'. Hardly surprising when we have breakaway training bunches for those riders who don't want to hurt themselves!
Racing is all about learning, becoming more skilful, striving to improve and going home exhausted with a huge grin on your face. It would appear the promoting club now focuses on promoting mediocrity and holding riders back from achieving their true potential. How else would you explain the indifference of the handicapping when a young, talented rider like Nic Rathbone, after winning three B grade races in a row is told he can ride A grade, "but only of wants to". Or the two strongest C graders by a country mile, Scott Simpson and Matt Carter discouraged from stepping up to B grade where the only thing that would happen to them is that they would become better, stronger riders.
Fortunately there are still cycling clubs who encourage their members to strive and challenge themselves and this weeks winner, 1984 Los Angeles Olympian, Kevin Nichols is proof that success only comes from putting the hard yards in, even when you're over 50. Kevin is a product of the St George Cycling Club which has produced close on 200 National Champions and had a representative in every Commonwealth and Olympic Games cycling team since 1956, so they must be doing something right.
For the first time in almost three years, B grade actually stayed away and won overall. Hard to believe, especially when you consider that B grade rode at a pedestrian pace with more riders clamouring to get to the back than there ever were trying to get to the front. Yet another example of mediocrity.
C grade were caught with three laps to go and immediately it was C grade rider Scott Simpson on the front driving the pace, firstly because he's got some ticker and wants to give it a go and secondly because the majority of B grade riders (the supposedly stronger riders) are too scared to make a race of it.
In the closing lap after all the usual 'sit on' suspects who had tried to make their move from the back were told to get out of the way, it was left to the older riders to the lead the way, except the first one to do so, Antonio Iannicito lead himself into the grass when he misjudged his attack. Never one to shirk a turn, Kevin Nichols simply hit the front into the wind and still finding himself on the front in the straight, then decided "I'd better put it into the 11 and have a go". Have a go he did and simply wound it up to win comfortably from new Dad, Trent Iliffe (Easts) who capped another good finish during his visit home from Shanghai.
John Kenny (Easts) showed he's lost nothing went it comes to a sprint to get third in his first race of the summer. Alex Frame (Sutherland) came home fourth after never being far from the front alnight, while Craig Dempsey (Easts) completed the top five which were all masters riders. Victorian visitor Chris Garrad (Carnegie) claimed the first C Grade prize.
The very small A grade field who were handicapped out of the race had very little to race for in the end, however the sprint was still hotly contested and it was another St George rider, Peter Fitzpatrick who held out local 'King' Anthony Spurgeon to go home with the $30 envelope.
No photos this week, so you'll have to use your imagination or better still, come down next Tuesday night and race. Remember, what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger!
A Grade 1 Kevin Nichols (St George) 2 Trent Iliffe (Easts) 3 John Kenny (Easts) 4 Alex Frame (Sutherland) 5 Craig Dempsey (Easts) B Grade 1 Peter Fitzpatrick (St George) 2 Anthony Spurgeon (Caravello) 3 Paul Rowney (Easts) C Grade 1 Chris Garrad (Carnegie) 2 Calvin Smith (Randwick Botany) 3 Anthony Fortuna (Randwick Botany)
Local results 2006