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Eastern Suburbs Cycling Club
Criterium, Heffron Park, Tuesday December 4, 2007
Fitzy too quick in the dry and the wet
Sydney's wet and stormy summer continued to threaten Eastern Suburbs weekly extravaganza throughout the day on Tuesday but somehow Heffron Park was spared the deluge which hit the rest of the Sydney and Easts weekly kids cycling camp got underway in sunny conditions with a special guest appearance by Aussie pro Matt White (Discovery Channel). The junior cycling camp is a run every Tuesday before racing and has become a great intro to cycling for children from 7 - 13yrs and while camp innovator DS Concy is never short on tips and advice to hand out, the presence of a pro like Matt was a real thrill for all the kids and some of the adults too.
Ten minutes to race time and the dark clouds were starting to threaten, but racing still got underway on a dry track with B grade boasting the biggest group of 25 riders, while C grade had 18 starters and 14 A graders were left to start off on the scratch mark. The good luck with the weather didn't last and a few laps into the race the inevitable showers came which were just enough to dampen the course but not the enthusiasm of the bunches.
Perhaps it was the weather, but more than a few riders seemed to be having meltdowns. B grade just couldn't get into a rhythm, not helped that many riders still can't tell an easterly wind from a westerly and the difference from rolling to the left and rolling to the right. Fergus Bermingham (Ireland) who only knows one speed, flat out, was then intent on riding the entire bunch off his wheel. Back in C grade David Cobcroft (Easts) had his own rush of blood when he decided to latch onto A grade the first time around (A grade have to pass C grade twice) and sneak away for a win. Even the Easts President couldn't let him get away with that one.
With the rain intensifying the slipping and sliding started with Dave Jackson (Randwick Botany) the most unlucky. After slipping in one of the corners Dave decided to take advantage of his allowed one lap out and get back into the race, only to hit the deck again one lap later. Many decided the risk wasn't worth it and headed for cover when the rain started, but not before a few more slid out of the race. Aaron Richardson (Easts) was another unlucky one and has been left with some painful stitches in his ankle and won't by driving his big red fire engine around Darlinghurst for a few more weeks.
Back in the race, the course started to dry out and by this stage A grade really were on fire as Paul Rowney (Easts) was lighting up the pace in A grade - just grateful to be out of the Scottish weather for a few weeks. A dramatically reduced B grade field of 8 riders thought they had half a chance of staying away, but it was just wishful thinking, but not as wishful as Mark Ardouin thinking he could take a lap out after puncturing with 3 laps to go.
With a larger than usual public gallery on the side of the track, the big question trackside was who was going to win as A grade swept past both grades with two laps to go. The obvious money was on the likes of Rowney, emerging under 23 talent Richard Lang, Dave Early or even big Troy Glennan, who as always was prominent on the front. When Peter Fitzpatrick's name was picked as a likely winner, more than one observer even asked, was he in the race?
And that's the point. With the likes of a sprinter like Fitzpatrick you don't even know he's there until it's too late. Growing up in the Fitzpatrick household with father Laurie and older brother Steve, you're bound to learn something about sprinting. A winter season at Trexlertown each year also helps.
Ben Isaksen and Brad Mills gave it all they had in the sprint, but Fitzy was too quick and finished a bike length in front. Mixed up in the sprint were two B grade riders who came 4th and 5th overall. Sutherland rider Peter Hamilton looked a class above his B grade companions when he took fourth spot. John Peppard (Easts) showed he's got plenty of form by grabbing fifth overall and proved that newborns in the family are no reason to stop training and racing.
Kevin Black (Sydney) has been in every B grade finish this season and was again in the money when he collected the envelope for first B grade rider (not in the top 5) beating home Karl Bellamy and Mike Bolt. There was a ding dong battle going on for C grade honours and it was Andy Mathews who got the better of Roger Shackleton this week.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rocky Fortuna
Overall 1 Peter Fitzpatrick (St George) 2 Ben Isaksen (Lidcombe Auburn) 3 Brad Mills (North Sydney) 4 Peter Hamilton (Sutherland) 5 John Peppard (Easts) B Grade 1 Kevin Black (Sydney) 2 Carl Bellamy (Easts) 3 Mike Bolt (Turramurra) C Grade 1 Andy Mathews (Randwick Botany) 2 Roger Shackleton (Manly)