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Victorian Criterium Championships

METEC Driving Training Center, Kilsyth, May 25, 2003

Mal Sawford

The elite men's field crest the hill
Photo © Mal Sawford
Click for larger image

Despite being scheduled a month after the traditional end of the summer season, the Victorian Criterium Championships hosted by the South East Region Cycling Clubs produced exciting racing. The Elite Men's field looked on paper to be a little lacking in star power, particularly with the late withdrawal of raging favourite Robert Wilson due to eye surgery, but the closely matched field saw an enthralling race decided by the narrowest of margins to cap off a great days racing.

Held at a relatively new cycling venue, the METEC centre is home to normally home to trainee motor cyclists and learner drivers. With the support of the State Government and financial assistance from the Bikes Alliance of the South East (an alliance of local Cycling Australia Clubs, Veterans Clubs and BMX organization), the centre has undertaken some additional road works creating a technical 1.2 km circuit suitable for Criteriums and off road training.

Richard England (Le Tour Cycles) was first to test his legs in the Elite race, attacking strongly only a few laps in. A Gold Medallist in the Teams Pursuit at the recent Track Nationals, England was one of a handful of riders in the event with prior knowledge of the circuit, and used his strength and local knowledge to open a considerable gap on the peloton. So early in the race, his attack was really only designed to open up his legs, and find out who else had high hopes for the day.

After his recapture, Dean Johnstone (O'Mara Cycles) went on the attack. A noted driver, Johnstone's attack 15 minutes in saw a reaction from Rob Young (Team MGZT), and shortly after from St Kilda's Ben Edwards. Combining well, the trio established a lead around 15 seconds, which on the twisting circuit saw them out of sight of the bunch for a high percentage of each lap. After 25 minutes at the head of affairs, Johnstone's recent lay off took its toll, and he lost contact with the break, only to be quickly replaced by Stuart Hill (The Freedom Machine), who rocketed across the gap seemingly without effort.

Once again back to three riders, the re-invigorated break held the gap around the 15 second mark, but with just over ten minutes remaining before the final 5 laps, the chase started in earnest in the bunch, and the lead finally began to shrink. When Edwards cracked, it was all over for the break, although Hill and Young never gave in. The great escape came to an end with just over five minutes to race after some strong turns from David Coultas (Pro-Motion Bicycles), Andrew Steele (Le Tour) and early pace makers England and Johnstone, and the sprinters finally had something to smile about.

Cameron Streistermanis (Hillman Cycles) went on the attack in the closing stages, and his effort was countered by Justin Hogan (O'Mara Cycles), but the bunch was back together for the final two laps. Over the top of the hill with half a lap to travel Coultas had positioned himself prominently, but as the surge came from the back of the bunch, he was forced to hit out hard before the final corner to maintain his position.

Coming out of the final sweeping bend, Coultas was flying, but had all the fast finishers queued up behind. England was first to step out and set sail from home, with track sprinter Barry Woods looming fast on his right. Alexander James (Fitzroy Cycles) appeared from nowhere on the left in the closing meters, but on the line England and Woods couldn't be split by the naked eye, and the judges called for the photo. After five minutes of deliberation, the verdict, possibly the closest ever in a Victorian Championships, went to an ecstatic Woods, with the result a quinella for Blackburn Club Coach Brad Robbins.

The Elite Women's race saw the competitive field keep a close eye on the pre race favourites. Kristy Bortolin (The Freedom Machine) dominated Women's racing at Club level this season courtesy of her fast finish, while Kerrie Baumgartner had taken the St Kilda Club title on the same circuit only a few weeks earlier, and Jenny Macpherson (Fitzroy Cycles) had showed her strength with selection in the Victorian Track team.

Leongatha's Loretta Mabin wasn't over-awed by the competition, and made a number of efforts to break up the field, but was ultimately unsuccessful. The Under 19 competitors in the field also rode strongly, keeping the pace high as the battled it out for the medals in their race within a race.

Despite their best efforts, Macpherson and Baumgartner weren't able to unload a determined Bortolin, and going into to the final corner she had positioned herself perfectly in third wheel. While the two taller girls drag raced for the line, Bortolin kicked past on the left to take the win by half a length , with Baumgartner out muscling Macpherson for the Silver medal. Tori Freeland (Drapac Property Group) led the Under 19's home, ahead of Amy Phillips (Trak Cycles) and Erin Downing (Le Tour Cycles), with all three juniors going the distance with the Elite Women.

The combined Masters field raced for individual medals in the M2, M3 and M4/5 divisions, with the added bonus of prize money for the first three riders over the line. The race evolved into a series of attacks and counter attacks, making the officials work overtime to keep track of who was leading each division!

Agostino Giramondo's (Giramondo Sportswear) early attack split the field, and he was joined on his attack by Peter O'Callaghan. Ago's attack was too dangerous, and the remnants of the field briefly regrouped before Guy Green (Le Tour Cycles) made his bid for glory. Daniel Bellis (G&D Cycles) set off in pursuit, and after a few laps working with the local rider, left him to solo in for a good win. Glen Hutchinson won the bunch sprint for second ahead of Michael Yarski (Giramondo Sportswear) who took out the Masters 2 Gold Medal, while Chris Hunt (Mainline Cycles) claimed the Gold in the Masters 4 Division as the only competitor in his division to hang onto the front bunch.

The Under 19 Men's race saw the small field unload danger man Shane Perkins, winner of three Gold medals in the sprint events at the track Nationals early on, with the technical course not his forte. Carnegie Caulfield's Nathan Wise jumped away early with Mitchell Docker (Hillman Cycles) in tow, and the pair built up a good lead before the chase from Simon Clarke (BikeNOW) and Echuca-Moama club mates Michael Teggelove and Craig Ryan saw the field regroup. At the finish, it was Teggelove all the way, with Wise pipped on the line for second by a late effort from Clarke.

Bunch sprints were the order of the day on the early races, with very cool temperatures until the sun finally broke through in mid afternoon. Shepparton's Shaun Morris (S-B-R) took out the Under 17 Men's race from Gerard Murphy (Fitzroy Cycles) and Taigh Banson (CBD Cycles), while the Women's event was dominated by habitual Australian Champion Tess Downing (Le Tour Cycles), easily taking the sprint win ahead of Natalie Shaw and Jessica Lane (Gran Prix Cycles).

A fall on the last lap saw contenders Anthony Rix, Peter Johnstone and Michael Downing out of the Under 15 Men's event. Of the survivors, race favourite Leigh Howard (Evolution Performance Cycles) showed the quickest finish, two lengths clear of Sean Bourke and Luke Gooley (Giramondo Sportswear).

Georgina Freeland got the better of Under 15 Australian Track Champion Lisa Friend (Bianchi) in their two up sprint finish, after the pair had powered away from the bunch in the Under 15 Women's event. Rebecca Dickson claimed the Bronze medal in a tight sprint over Brittany Foster. Full results of all races can be found at the CycleSport Victoria web site,


Images by Mal Sawford


Women 15 - 20 minutes + 2 laps
1 Georgina Freeland (Stawell Great Western)
2 Lisa Friend (Blackburn)
3 Jesie Clarke (Wangaratta)
Men 15 - 20 minutes + 2 laps
1 Leigh Howard (Geelong West)
2 Sean Bourke (Blackburn)
3 Luke Gooley (Shepparton)
Women 17 - 20 minutes + 2 laps
1 Tess Downing (Carnegie Caulfield)
2 Natalie Shaw (Ballarat Sebastopol)
3 Jessica Lane (Carnegie Caulfield)
Men 17 - 25 minutes + 2 laps
1 Shaun Morris (Shepparton)
2 Gerard Murphy (Leongatha)
3 Taigh Banson (Shepparton)
Elite Women - 30 minutes + 2 laps
1 Kirsty Bortolin (Blackburn)
2 Kerrie Baumgartner (St Kilda)
3 Jenny Macpherson (Carnegie Caulfield)
4 Loretta Mabin (Leongatha)
5 Gemma Kenessy (Brunswick)
6 Samantha Lindsay (St Kilda)
7 Helen Lawson (Coburg)
8 Kym Petersen (Carnegie Caulfield)
Under 19 Women - 30 minutes + 2 laps
1 Tori Freeland (Stawell-Great Western)
2 Amy Phillips (Carnegie Caulfield)
3 Erin Downing (Carnegie Caulfield)
Masters - 30 minutes + 2 laps
1 Daniel Bellis (Footscray)
2 Glen Hutchinson (Footscray)
3 Michael Yarski (Footscray)
4 Guy Green (Blackburn)
5 Chris Hunt (Latrobe Valley)
6 Karl Wood (Carnegie Caulfield)
7 Agostino Giramondo (Footscray)
8 Mark Bourjau (St Kilda)
9 Dennis Shaw (Ballarat Sebastopol)
10 Michael Skerritt (Coburg)
Masters 2
1 Michael Yarski (Footscray)
2 Karl Wood (Carnegie Caulfield)
3 Michael Skerritt (Coburg)
Masters 3
1 Daniel Bellis (Footscray)
2 Glen Hutchinson (Footscray)
3 Guy Green (Blackburn)
Masters 4/5
1 Chris Hunt (Latrobe Valley)
2 Dennis Shaw (Ballarat Sebastopol)
Under Men 19 - 30 minutes + 3 laps
1 Michael Teggelove (Echuca-Moama)
2 Nathan Wise (Carnegie Caulfield)
3 Simon Clarke (Carnegie Caulfield)
Elite Men - 60 minutes + 5 laps
1 Barry Woods (Blackburn)
2 Richard England (Blackburn)
3 Alexander James (Brunswick)
4 Andrew Steele (Blackburn)
5 Peter Trigar (Brunswick)
6 Steve Martin (Blackburn)
7 Tommy Nankervis (Carnegie Caulfield)
8 David Coultas (Carnegie Caulfield)
9 Christopher Lee (St Kilda)
10 Justin Hogan (Carnegie Caulfield)
11 Hayden Mead (Chelsea & Peninsula)
12 Timothy Joiner (Brunswick)
13 Dylan Newell (Brunswick)
14 Reece Van Beek (Geelong West)
15 Ben Jackson (St Kilda)
16 Benjamin Serpell (Blackburn)
17 Ben Phillips (Carnegie Caulfield)
18 Dean Johnstone (Carnegie Caulfield)
19 Chris Taplin (Carnegie Caulfield)
20 Robert Young (Nsw)
21 Cameron Streistermanis (Brunswick)
22 Trent Goatley (St Kilda)
23 Stuart Hill (St Kilda)

Australian results from the past week

CATS Cycling Club
Ken Dinnerville Memorial Handicap
Randwick Botany Cycling Club
Southern Cross CC
Velo Tour Race 1


Complete Australian results for 2003