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South Bank International Criterium - NE
Brisbane, December 8, 2002
White Knight strikes again; McEwen takes overall honours
By Sharon Payne
A Grade Criterium
US Postal rider, Matt White secured his second win in as many months today, taking out the South Bank International Criterium in Brisbane. A breakaway with 25 year old Western Australian Road Champion, Jaaron Poad, proved beneficial for White who was too strong for Poad in the final straight. The win was not enough to secure the Overall Points Series, with Tour De France maillot vert, Robbie McEwen, taking out the honours.
Grid positions for the start were determined from straight line sprints held on Saturday afternoon. The strong field of fifty-five cyclists also included Brad McGee, stage winner of the Tour De France and Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Tour De France rider Baden Cooke, Allan Davis from ONCE and several U23 champions.
The first break came early in the race as White escaped with Poad and Brisbane's Leigh Palmer to put time and distance into the main pack. Robbie McEwen made several valiant attempts to bring back the break but failed until the final stages. The relentless pace of the leaders grew too much for Palmer and left White and Poad continue the race alone.
Almost immediately, a strong group of five emerged containing Robbie McEwen, Allan Davis, Ben Litchfield (one of Brisbane's strongest A Graders), Mark Rowland (who had placed second to McEwen in Surfers Paradise one week earlier) and Craig Cahill. Cycling superstars from the Tour, McGee and Cooke were not on the pace today, but managed to finish with the main bunch.
The main bunch was forced to sprint early according to criterium rules for 8th, 9th and 10th placings. White waited until the finishing straight to kick well clear of Poad, giving the crowd his victory salute as he crossed the line. Interest mounted to see who would take on McEwen in the sprint for third. Young Gold Coast rider, Craig Cahill upset the Tour de France sprinter for not cooperating during the chase and outsprinting him to the line. McEwen finished ahead of Davis followed by Litchfield and Rowlands seventh.
McEwen has had a heavy week of training already, clocking up nearly 800km this week after just a few weeks back in training. "Tomorrow I'll have an easy day," commented McEwen who still has many races in Australia before heading back to Belgium at the end of January.
Jaaron Poad was a surprise last minute entry after training 100km earlier in the day, deciding to enter just half an hour before race start. After four weeks off the bike and five days of training, Poad said he would have been happy just to finish.
"I thought the break might have been successful though," said Poad. "There're a lot of fit guys and a lot of unfit guys at this time of year, and it would have been hard to bring back a break in this heat." After moving to Queensland in July, Poad has been trying to turn professional. He is hoping that his second in the points series and his placing today may encourage a team like Giant Asia to have a second look at him.
Matt White said a change in attitude over the last couple of months has helped him. "I ride for the best team in the world and it's not usually my role to win races. You can get a bit complacent because you're in the number one team with the best rider but I've got a new attitude and I've got to do some stuff for myself as well." He will race another two races before heading overseas, and is hoping for a ride in the TdF in 2003.
B Grade Criterium
A large field of B Grade riders rode the South Bank circuit with only one mishap. There were many attempted breaks but it wasn't until halfway that Anthony Wood, Alan Mumford and Daniel Bennett managed to break away from the peloton.
The trio was chased down by Mike's Bikes Jeff Harris, who had been unlucky a week before at Surfers Paradise. When the pack reformed both Harris and Surfers Paradise winner, Tim Bartlett took off at five laps to go. The Hungarian rider, Daniel Zsombok, unleashed to take third from Murwillumbah's Rick Walker with Edward Raben from Brisbane placing fifth.
Images by Heath Carney
Images by Tim Francis/www.yourfotos.com
A Grade 1 Matt White (US Postal) 2 Jaaron Poad (Glen Parker Cycles) 3 Craig Cahill (Lite Bar/Burke's Bikes) 4 Robbie McEwen (Lotto Adecco) 5 Allan Davis (ONCE) 6 Ben Litchfield (Planet Cycles) 7 Mark Rowlands (Team Down Under) 8 Brendan Hill (Lifecycle) 9 Adrian Booth (Ffast) 10 Darren Nightingale (Lifecycle) Overall Series Point Score 1 Robbie McEwen (Lotto Adecco) 17 2 Matt White (US Postal) 16 3 Mark Rowlands (Team Down Under) 13 B Grade 1 Jeff Harris (Goldstars) 2 Tim Bartlett (Astra) 3 Daniel Zsombok (KSISE/Hungary) 4 Rick Walker (Murwillumbah) 5 Edward Raben (Broncos) Women 1 Lorian Graham (Astra) 2 Sally Cowman (Victor) 3 Liz Young Corporate 1 Carlton Mid-Strength Team 2 2 Carlton Mid-Strength Team 1 3 Treasury Casino