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2004 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
Victoria, Australia, January 7-11, 2004
Brown leaves his sickbed to win final stage
Cooke (and his team) take the series
By Karen Forman in Melbourne
Graeme Brown left his sickbed this morning after a four day battle with a severe chest infection and, much to his own surprise, clinched the final stage of the 2004 Jayco Bay Classic criterium series on a dog leg circuit at Docklands in inner city Melbourne.
Brown, riding for SBR, beat series leader Baden Cooke (Skilled) and Team MGZT-Bianchi rider Joel Pearson in a dramatic bunch sprint to line in front of the biggest crowd seen during this series. His win gave him 12 points, which placed him ninth overall in the final classification, despite not having finished the first or fourth stages due to his illness and not contesting the second or third stages at all.
Cooke's second place saw him retain his leader's jersey and win the series with 41 points while David McKenzie (Bicycle Superstore), whose stage three win in Geelong propelled him up the points ladder, was second overall with 30 points after finishing out of the top 10 today. Third overall was Cooke's teammate Matt Wilson with 23 points on count back to Brett Aitken (Drapac), who had earlier in the week expressed disappointment at poor form attributed to a problem with tendonitis in his knee but finished fifth in today's stage and fourth overall with 23 points.
Mark Renshaw (Skilled), sixth today, finished fifth overall and was the sprint king with 14 points ahead of Hilton Clarke (SBR) and McKenzie, both with seven points. Then followed Russell Downing (700C Business Objects) with 7 points, Joel Pearson (Team MGZT-Bianchi) with 15, Rory Sutherland (Victorian State Home Loans), Clarke and Brown, all on 12 points.
How it unfolded
With just five points separating them going into today's race on a fast hot mix surface in the newly developed harbour side Docklands area, expectations were that the series would come down to Cooke and McKenzie. Not too many people were counting on Brownie turning up after not only being sick himself, but with his grandmother Pat taken to hospital from the race headquarters in Geelong earlier this week with a blood clot and his sister Katie breaking her hand. But not only did he turn up - complete with hacking cough - but he managed to beat the series leader in what came down to a single 300 metre sprint.
It had been a race of attacks, which never really went anywhere. All the riders commented that it was near impossible to stage a successful breakaway. As the laps progressed, it became obvious stage five - and the series - was going to come down to a final bunch sprint.
Brown made his intentions clear straight away, moving to the front in the back straight on the first lap. Cooke was in fourth wheel. From then on all the major players - Wilson, Robbie McEwen (who raced despite suffering some food poisoning following a seafood meal with race commentator Phil Liggett, who also got sick), stage three winner Brad McGee, Aitken, FRF Couriers/Caravello rider David McPartland and Bicycle Superstore visitor from Uruguay, Jorge Libonatti.
William Walker (Giant/CBD Cycles) won the first intermediate sprint ahead of Trent Lower (Team Carnegie Caulfield) and Renshaw and after a relatively uneventful 15 more minutes, Russell Downing from the United Kingdom (700C Business Objects) won the second intermediate sprint ahead of Renshaw and Walker.
Brown was at the front of the bunch by the 21st lap, and an attack by Sutherland on the 27th lap achieved a small gap for a bunch comprising Pearson, Libonatti and Wilson. McEwen worked hard to bridge the gap, flying off the back of the main bunch to catch the breakaway.
The third intermediate sprint went to Robert Crowe (TAC-Victoria Police) ahead of Libonatti and Wilson and was followed by more attacks by McEwen, Hector Morales (Bicycle Superstore), Sutherland, Libonatti, Wilson and Aitken, which the alert bunch never allowed to eventuate into breakaways.
By the 36th lap the Skilled boys, comprising professional team FdJeux.com members McGee, Cooke, Wilson, Chris Sutton and Renshaw, were on the front, controlling the peloton. McKenzie was fifth wheel and McEwen was on Cooke's wheel.
At the bell Sutton was shadowed by Wilson, Aitken, Renshaw and McEwen and then, in a mad dash to the line - a good 300 metres from the final corner - Brown pipped Cooke on the line to win the stage.
"I had a big gear and I had a gap," Cooke said. "At the start of the (finishing) banner I was ahead. At the end of the banner he was ahead. Today we tried to set Matt up for the win. He was back in form and very aggressive today and we were trying to get him up there, but it was very hard to get away on this circuit.
"I had a couple of attacks but we decided to come to the front with six to go."
Cooke said while it would have been nice to win the stage, his main concern was not coming to grief on the last corner. "I hadn't been nailing it right on each lap," he said, "As it was, the time I did nail it, it was the last lap and I was in fifth and out first. I thought I was out of trouble and would win the series but Brownie got me fair and square."
He again paid tribute to his team. "The main thing was the overall. We gave Mattie every chance to win the series and he rode really well. It would have been nice for Matt to take it. "
Cooke said he had come into the week of racing thinking he had a small chance of doing anything at the Nationals, but his confidence had now been boosted. "I am inspired to train," he said. "I will go up and down Arthur's Seat as many times as I can in the next week. It will be disappointing if we don't get a jersey for our team."
Brown, who was so breathless he could barely talk after the race, said he probably shouldn't have raced today because he still wasn't feeling 100 per cent.
"The doctor said I had some bronchitis and told me to have a minimum of two days off non-intensive training or risk getting pneumonia," he said. "Till he said that I thought, idiot, but I don't want pneumonia so I went to bed for two days."
Brown said he was coughing a lot during the race and felt he had "great legs but terrible lungs". He wasn't sure what had happened in the final run to the line. "I had Robbie's wheel and came out of the corner in a straight line. I wasn't sure where the finish line was, so I didn't even thrown my bike like I usually do. I just kept going."
Brown, who gets a bit of asthma and who says his family history of the disorder makes him a "future asthmatic" said he had stuck to his New Year's resolution to ride in a straight line. "No-one could possibly complain about me in the race today," he said.
He heads to Ballarat for the national road championships, which start next Wednesday and says he's hoping his health will be improved enough for a good ride - and a win.
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
Images by Leo
1 Graeme Brown (NSW) SBR 2 Baden Cooke (Vic) Skilled 3 Joel Pearson (Vic) Team Mgzt - Bianchi 4 Russell Downing (GBr) 700C Buisness Objects 5 Brett Aitken (SA) Drapac Cycling Team 6 Mark Renshaw (NSW) Skilled 7 David McKenzie (Vic) Bicycle Superstore 8 Hilton Clarke (Vic) SBR 9 Kieran Page (GBr) 700C Buisness Objects 10 Nathan Russell (NSW) Giant/CBD Cycles Sprints Sprint 1 1 William Walker (Vic) Giant/CBD Cycles 2 Trent Lowe (Vic) Team Carnegie Caulfield 3 Mark Renshaw (NSW) Skilled Sprint 2 1 Russell Downing (GBr) 700C Buisness Objects 2 Mark Renshaw (NSW) Skilled 3 William Walker (Vic) Giant/CBD Cycles Sprint 3 1 Robert Crowe (Vic) TAC/Victoria Police 2 Jorge Libonatti (Uru) Bicycle Superstore 3 Matt Wilson (Vic) Skilled Final classification 1 Baden Cooke (Vic) Skilled 41 pts 2 David McKenzie (Vic) Bicycle Superstore 30 3 Matt Wilson (Vic) Skilled 23 4 Brett Aitken (SA) Drapac Cycling Team 23 5 Mark Renshaw (NSW) Skilled 19 6 Dean Downing (GBr) 700C Buisness Objects 17 7 Bradley Mcgee (NSW) Skilled 16 8 Joel Pearson (Vic) Team Mgzt - Bianchi 15 9 Rory Sutherland (ACT)Victorian State Home Loans 12 10 Hilton Clarke (Vic) SBR 12 Graeme Brown (NSW) SBR Sprint classification 1 Mark Renshaw (NSW) Skilled 14 pts 2 Hilton Clarke (Vic) SBR 7 3 David McKenzie (Vic) Bicycle Superstore 7
A Grade Support
A Grade support 1 Simon Clarke (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Klayten Smith (Clarence St CCC) 3 Jonny Clarke (Vic) 4 Beritil Klootnijk (Ned) 5 Michael Ford (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 6 Mathew Rex (Norwood C.C.) 7 Adam Tully (C.A.T.S.) 8 Dean Windsor (Bathurst CC) 9 Ben Isaksen (Lidcombe Auburn CC) 10 Anthony Smith (Blackburn Cycling Club Inc) Sprints Sprint 1 1 Matthew Goss (West Tamar CC) 2 Adam Tully (C.A.T.S.) 3 Mathew Rex (Norwood C.C.) Sprint 2 1 Klayten Smith (Clarence St CCC) 2 Jonny Clarke (Vic) 3 Simon Clarke (Carnegie Caulfield CC) Final general classification 1 Beritil Klootnijk (Ned) 41 pts 2 Simon Clarke (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 37 3 Mathew Rex (Norwood C.C.) 35 4 Klayten Smith (Clarence St CCC) 28 5 Paul Richards (Warragul Cycling Club) 25 6 Daniel Newnham (Gold Coast Goldstars CC) 21 7 Jonny Clarke (Vic) 20 8 Dean Windsor (Bathurst CC) 19 9 Adam Tully (C.A.T.S.) 18 10 Matthew Goss (West Tamar CC) 13