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February 22, 2004

Cyclists flock to the final crit race

By Justen O'Connor

Fifty-four cyclists descended upon the Bourke St. circuit for the final crit of the season. The cool conditions and big numbers set the scene for a fast race. A head wind down the finishing straight would mean resisting the temptation for an early sprint while the undulating back section was going to be fast.

A-Grade were away first and John McKenzie, having arrived late for the start, barely had time to click in the cleats before Shane Stiles and Matty Malacarne cranked up the pace with a 4min 30sec first lap. This set the scene for the race and from then on it was not a case of if somebody would attack but who was going to be next.

Mitch Pearson wilfully obliged and immediately turned on the gas, but with a classy bunch chasing he was going nowhere. Matty, having recovered from the first lap decided to go again as he and Gerrard Donnelly put 10 seconds into the peleton across the start finish line on lap 5.

With only 23km per week on the training track, Steve Sandner found himself at the pointy end trying to reel in another Mitch Pearson attack. With Scott Keeble and Matt Malacarne pushing hard Steve blew a head gasket that ultimately forced his retirement on lap 9.

While Steve was drifting off the back, Joel Pearson and Gerrard Donnelly jumped hard to produce a potentially race winning move. Burning up valuable petrol the pair set about putting time into the bunch behind. Without an organised chase they would be difficult to get back and so the peleton worked their turns to slowly reel them in.

With two laps to go Scott Keeble pulled off the front of the bunch with Matty in tow. Claims were made after the race that no one in the peleton knew the pair had slipped away because they couldn't see past Danny Dilger (Scott and Matty were later seen giving Danny an envelop containing cash).

And so it was that the pair came to hold off the bunch and Scotty easily accounted for Matt on the line with a time of 56:30 for the 13 laps. Glen Gibson crossed five seconds later followed by Mitch, Thommo, John, Shane, Joel, Gerrard, Pete and Danny.

After a relaxed ride the week before B-Grade were in for a sharp contrast as Brett Rollinson flew out of the starting blocks and powered up the short climb. After taking a while to wake up the bunch set about chasing him down. The tactic saw Paul Yeatman get caught out and just as he rejoined the bunch a Thomas Sandner attack up the hill quickly tipped him over the edge and it was a lonely race from then on.

Chris Jones and Brett turned the cranks hard early consistently stretching out the line while Thomas saved himself for the short but sharp hill that followed the front straight. Many were thankful that Thomas spent considerable time at the bottom of the hill trying to wind up the huge gear he had selected allowing the group to tag on.

Consistently lapping in less than five minutes the pace was varied as an attack was followed by recovery. Visiting Coburg Cycling Club member, Luke McDonough was enjoying the hill while young James Henry was always near the front impersonating an egg beater as he spun his junior gears.

As A-Grade rolled past on the front straight, Thomas, ever the acute tactician, decided to seize the moment and break up the bunch by getting past A-Grade on the hill. The tactic, more commonly employed when passing a lower grade, backfired when a short time later A-Grade stormed past the now re-joined B-Grade bunch. Thomas was disqualified for 'pushing the boundaries' leading into the hill section and Pete Bailey for following.

The bell sounded for the final lap and despite some effort from Brett, no decisive moves were made. The head wind made leading out difficult and when Tim Lee went early everyone in the bunch looked for a good sit. Chris Jones proved to be the strongest as he pulled away across the line followed by Thomas, Justen and Tim. The two Henrys, the two Steves, Luke, Pete and Brett all finished on the same time.

In C-Grade the brother and sister combination that was the Hanley's conspired to set a cracking pace, in what was now the theme for the day - Go hard on the first lap and bad luck to those who hadn't warmed up properly.

Consistenly Rob Monk upped the ante on the hills and in the second lap he was joined briefly at the front by Trevor Rollinson and Dean Logan. While the bunch rejoined, Steve Evans lost touch and could only watch as the group cast an ever shrinking image on the back of his retina.

A fitter Dean Logan was up front pulling the train while Simon Baxter allegedly was happy playing the role of fifth carriage. The pace was near that of B-Grade as five minute laps were clocked consistently.

Michael Pridmore tactically took a lap out to fix a puncture with 3 to go as Rob continued to test the thresholds of many up the hills.

With no breakaways the sprint finish would determine the winner. Heeding the advice of Shane Stiles during the warm up, Simon held back his sprint into the head wind. The tactic paid off as tired legs in front meant he could pull out and take the win from Rob. Trevor, Glenn, Allan, Dean and Daniel followed and in no particular order, Michael, Monique, Luke and Colin Brown (welcome back) all finished on the same time.

Eighteen riders rolled around under control for the first three laps in D-Grade from which point Dave Axford went ballistic posting a sub-five minute lap. Passing B-Grade at one point this move effectively saw the chasing group split.

A main bunch of 8 cyclists were followed by Glenda and Steve, a short while back to Simon Henry and then Loretta Mackay. David and Sam enjoyed the view from the sideline having withdrawn.

The eight riders became four as Daniel, Bruce Mason, Bill Frew and Kylie Richards said goodbye to the bunch. The lead group were flying with Kylie putting in a lot of work. "The only reason we didn't pass C-Grade was because we didn't want to shame them" said Bill Frew in a post-race interview. Bruce led out the sprint and Daniel capitalised to take first, with Bill, Bruce and Kylie crossing on the same time.

Thirty seconds passed before Dave, Ian, Wayne, Kim, Emma and Sean crossed with Rod, Steve, Glenda and Loretta finishing a short time later.

The next race is a handicap at Cloverlea followed at 6:30 by the presentation night at the club rooms.

Local results 2004