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Carnegie Caulfield Criterium
Springvale Necropolis, January 21, 2003
The normal start time of 6.30pm was delayed 15 minutes to allow riders stuck behind a pile up on the freeway a chance to compete. While the gesture was well appreciated by most, it would have unexpected repercussions as the racing wound up! Despite warm temperatures and clear skies, the wind was out in force, with the strongest winds yet blowing from the west promising to make for a tough night.
As the last race to finish, A Grade were in for a surprise as the sprinklers came on with three laps to go, with one jetting directly across the finishing straight only 20 meters from the line. Riders on the left of the bunch copped a faceful of cold water before a 'willing' volunteer in Club President Mike Clarke was found to divert the spray!
Todd Wilksch (Fitzroy Cycles) launched the first attack 10 minutes in, and took Michael Bailey, Rob Wilson (BikeNOW), Leigh De Luca and Peter Trigar (ACR) clear of the bunch. With the early break having the horsepower to go the distance, the reaction from the bunch came from Matt Chessum (Fitzroy Cycles), Jeremy Dunning (Borsari) and Sunday's winner Warren Knevitt (O'Mara Cycles).
Knevitt eventually joined the front group, and then followed a counter attack from Wilksch and De Luca. The leading trio ground out an advantage of 13 seconds at the half way mark, and held the gap for a few laps until a bridging attempt from Wilson brought the bunch back together. The final 15 minutes were relatively uneventful, until the call of 3 laps to go and the cameo from the sprinklers! It must be noted during this time of water restrictions throughout Victoria that the Necropolis does not use mains water for irrigation, but relies solely on large catchment dams within their boundaries.
In the dash to the line, Wilksch lead out of the final corner, and looked to have the race sewn up before a great effort saw De Luca draw alongside and with a well judged throw take the win by a tire. Wilson was next best, followed home by Knevitt and Dunning.
Grant Matthews picked up where he left off last week with an early breakaway in B Grade. Initially joined by Russell Collins (Mascot Cycles), the peleton briefly had the Bricky back under control before he escaped again with David Buntin after 25 minutes.
A succession of riders followed Buntin in attempt to stay with the hardworking leader, with Mick Buckley and Grant Jamieson also unable to match the awesome pace until the finish. Under 19 rider Rob Doyle (O'Mara) crossed the 25 second gap alone with 20 minutes remaining, and after Jamieson ran out of puff in the final 10 minutes, impressed spectators by continuing to match the early leader lap after lap.
The two leaders were still 25 seconds clear at the bell, before a fresher Doyle was able to open a gap up the hill on the back straight to take the win by 20 meters. Collins opened a gap on the bunch before the final corner to take third, with Brian Walsh leading the field home ahead of Women's winner, Swiss International Priska Doppman.
The strong winds, combined with the long straights and tight corners on the Memorial Gardens circuit made riding at the front a necessity. With the pace high from the start, riders at the back of the large C Grade field quickly lost contact, and midway through the race the leading group was down to 12 riders, with 10 chasers almost half a lap down, and a few stragglers following the D Grade bunch.
Rod Laidlaw and James Shepardson tried to go clear, but couldn't escape the attentions of their fellow leaders, and the result came down to who had left enough in the tank for the headwind finishing sprint. David Taylor capped off a good few weeks, with his third win in a row earning promotion to the B Grade field, which might give Brett Rossiter (Bicycle Superstore) the chance he needs to finally top the podium! Visiting New Zealander Gerard O'Flynn took third ahead of first time rider Mark Hall.
After their 45 minutes around the 2.5km circuit, the final three laps were not enough to split the D Grade field, with nearly the full complement contesting a bunch finish. Nikki Matthews lead the sprint out strongly and almost held off the fast finishing veteran Ray Smith, before being relegated to the second step on the podium, to match the placing earned by husband Grant in B Grade. Pete Johnstone spun his Under 13 gear out to take third, with Phil Stanton taking the final prize of the night.
Racing continues every Tuesday night on the circuit, with the Police Road gate (Melways Map 80 G6) opens at 6pm for race starts for all grades at 6.30. Criteriums are also held on Sunday mornings at Glenvale Crescent (Melways Map 80 B2) with a 9am start time. All holders of current Cycling Australia licenses are welcome (don't forget to bring your license or receipt!) and non-members can have a go by taking out a three-race license for $33, deductible from your full membership if you decide to continue racing. Our thanks go to the Trustees of the Necropolis for making the fabulous facility available to Melbourne's racing community.
Images by Mal Sawford
A Grade (1 hour + 3 laps) 19 starters 1 Leigh De Luca (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Todd Wilksch (Horsham CC) 3 Rob Wilson (Footscray CC) 4 Warren Knevitt (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 5 Jeremy Dunning (Coburg CC) B Grade (1 hour + 3 laps) 23 Starters 1 Rob Doyle (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Grant Matthews (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Russell Collins (Hawthorn CC) 4 Brian Walsh (Carnegie Caulfield CC) Women 1 Priska Doppman (Switz) 2 Katrina Purcell (Nothcote CC) C Grade (50 mins + 3 laps) 40 starters 1 David Taylor (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Brett Rossiter (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Gerard O'Flynn (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Mark Hall (Carnegie Caulfield CC) D Grade (45 mins + 3 laps) 23 starters 1 Ray Smith (Chelsea & Peninsula CC) 2 Nikki Matthews (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Peter Johnstone (Chelsea & Peninsula CC) 4 Phil Stanton (Carnegie Caulfield CC) Women 1 Nikki Matthews (Carnegie Caulfield CC) E Grade (40 mins + 3 laps) 9 starters 1 Gerry Egbers (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Tony Birkett (Chelsea & Peninsula CC) 3 Richard Plum (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Dale Reith (Blackburn CC)