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Australian Road Cycling Championships - NE
Sunshine Coast, Australia, September 3-12, 2004
Day 10 - September 12: Criteriums: Women U19 & Elite, Men U19, U23 & Elite, 30-60 min
The fast and the furious
National champs wraps up for another year along the Esplanade
By Anthony Tan in Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
With the final events of the 2004 National Road Cycling Championships bathed in sunshine and not a cloud in sight (okay, maybe just one), the Sunshine Coast lived up to its name for the third day in succession. Held along the cafe-lined Mooloolaba Esplanade, breakfasters, brunchers and lunchers were treated to fast and furious action that epitomises criterium-style racing.
Starting along the beachfront in Mooloolaba Esplanade and heading in an anticlockwise direction, today's 1.2 kilometre criterium circuit is all hotmix, meaning slow-pokes aren't welcome. A hot-dog-shaped course, riders execute U-turns at either end; the first 'U-ey' taking them along Beach Terrace as they drive along the back straight, before a slight uphill takes them up and around the second U-turn and back along the Esplanade.
The Skye's the limit
In somewhat of a lucky break for yesterday's road race winner, Skye-Lee Armstrong (Parramatta) took advantage of an unfortunate puncture on the final corner by Victoria Freeland (Stawel-Great Western CC), to take her second successive victory and cap off her most successful national road titles ever. Noarlunga CC's Genna Crean added to her gold medal won last Thursday in the individual by taking third place.
"I was feeling quite heavy - even at the end, I didn't have any sprint," said Armstrong to Cyclingnews, exhausted from her efforts over the previous two days. "Victoria Freeland should have won it, but she blew out [punctured-Ed] on the last corner. But that's what happens in crits - you have to expect the unexpected."
Six starters soon became three when a touch of wheels saw the final selection created in the opening five laps, with Skye-Lee Armstrong, national TT champ Genna Crean (Noarlunga South Coast CC) and Victoria Freeland all assured of a medal when the incident occurred.
Aware of Armstrong's speed, Crean and Freeland tried in vain to flick the Paramatta CC rider before the finish, but Armstrong had the legs to respond to each and every acceleration. "They tried to break me the whole race, every corner they were sprinting, trying to crack me," admitted Armstrong.
Freeland, clearly the stronger of the three, knew her only chance was the uphill U-turn coming off the back straight, and on the final lap, Freeland kicked hard and gapped her two breakaway companions.
Explained Freeland about her tactics, "I had two really, really strong competitors and I knew it was going to be tough the last bit, so I thought, 'I'm just going to lead out it; it's the only chance I have because I can't get over the top of these guys.'"
Then fate cruelly intervened. A puncture coming out of the turn cost Freeland almost certain victory, but the gutsy blonde still had the bike-handling skills and determination to take second behind a fast-finishing Armstrong.
Said a disappointed Freeland to Cyclingnews: "The last corner... it's the worst feeling. I had no control whatsoever - the bike was going all over the place - so I was lucky to hang on for silver, actually. It was a really good race by Skye [Armstrong] and I congratulate her... she did a really great job."
Tyler on a flyer
A break that went in the first five minutes precariously held their slender advantage all the way to the finish line, with yesterday's road race silver medallist Tyler Mclachlan going one better to take the sweetest victory of his young career. In second place was the one of the day's main protagonists and bronze medallist in the road race, Wesley Sulzberger (West Tamar), with Mclachlan's other half in their successful pairs TT championship debut, Luke Cridland (Southern Cross CC), third.
"There was only two [out front], but I've seen Wes [Sulzberger] hit out at the start of a 100k race and almost stay away; he wasn't slowing down, so I made sure I got across to them," said Mclachlan to Cyclingnews about his decision to go across to the early break with Sulzberger and Adam O'Connor (Midland CC).
Once in the break, Mclachlan turned around to check their advantage and saw road race and TT champ Josh Wall (Illawarra CC) hot on their heels. When Wall and four more made the junction, the break was complete.
Said a confident Mclachlan, "When I saw all the hitters there, I was feeling pretty comfortable in that bunch. I looked around, saw the riders [in the break], and thought, 'I should be able to work to stay away and have the legs to finish as well.'"
With the all the favourites and plenty of firepower up front, the octet began jostling for position in the final laps when their lead was assured. Approaching the bottom U-turn, Mclachlan never looked like losing even before he launched his killer sprint, showing the smarts and confidence of a seasoned professional for his first national criterium title.
"I think you've always got to back yourself; if you think someone else is going to beat you, they're going to beat you," reflected Mclachlan after his win.
Asked if this was the best win of his career, he had little hesitation in answering.
"Oh, for sure," he said, beaming with delight. "I love the crit, especially at this venue - there's a big crowd, and I was just ecstatic as you could see when I crossed the finish line... I couldn't hold back!"
Finning grinning as madison champ returns to form
Sidelined by a medial hamstring strain for the past month, national madison champ Sean Finning (Castlemaine CC) made a stylish return to his winning ways with perfectly-timed solo attack in the closing stages of the men's under 23 national criterium championship.
"Well, not entirely," said a grinning Finning to Cyclingnews when asked if his team-mate Will Walker's cheeky remark about winning a national championship on no training was in actual fact true.
"Before I came here, I'd done one 40k time trial at our states [Victorian TT championships] and that was the only effort I could do - the rest were just 20k rides when it wasn't sore. But I knew I had a big background because I'd been over to Italy with the AIS and I knew the course suits me; it's a big power course, so I was just going to get out there and have a go."
As per usual, an animated start kicked off proceedings with plenty going but nothing staying, the breezy conditions and lack of organisation foiling any breakaway attempts. However, at roughly the halfway mark, just when order in the peloton appeared to be restored, Jai Crawford took off on his own, his powerful frame enabling the Hobart Wheelers rider to build a buffer, albeit a tentative one.
When Cyclingnews asked Finning if he was worried about Crawford's escape, he admitted the break initially looked quite dangerous, but took comfort in playing the numbers game.
"Yeah, we were [concerned], but it's tough for one rider because there was a bit of wind out there today. We knew there was me and Will [Walker] and the two Queenslanders, so we had a bit of firepower to chase him down," Finning said.
Crawford continued unperturbed, hands on the hoods and eyes and mouth wide open, but the VIS-mob of Walker and Finning, along with Queensland's Jonathan Cantwell (Lifecycle CC) and Bradley Payne (CATS) slowly brought Jai the guy back into the fold, taking comfort in watching him die a thousand deaths.
Just as Crawford was caught with around five to go, the Tassie rider took a spill and two laps out, with a dangerous break of four immediately countering that included Walker, Payne and Cantwell. Back in the bunch, there was still enough impetus to form a chase, but no sooner had contact been reestablished before Sean Finning created the perfect counter with two and half laps remaining.
Pedalling circles and powering home for a superb solo victory, Finning had just enough time for a victory salute, arms akimbo, to the coffee-conscious crowd, before looking over his shoulder to see his team-mate Will Walker take the bunch sprint his second second and yet another VIS 1-2. First-placed local was Lifecycle Cycling Club's Jonathan Cantwell, who took third.
"When I hit out, I was actually hoping in a way that the others would have to chase and Will would be able to attack," explained Finning about his move. "If that didn't happen, I'd stay away, so either way, we had a pretty good plan there. I was pretty confident that either way, one of us would have won.
"I'm actually going to a break now and then get ready for the coming track season, where me and Brad Norton will try and defend our senior national madison title," he added.
Rhodes rides high
Another successful break followed in the elite women's race, only this time the winning move formed less than a third of the way into the criterium and numbered just two.
Clearly here for business purposes only when she shot out of the blocks and dragged round the field for almost for first two laps, Lifecycle Cycling Club's Liz Young was first to take flight after just 10 minutes' racing.
Catching the bunch napping, Young's move was well-timed, with only national criterium champion, Alexis Rhodes (Norwood CC), sensing both danger and opportunity. "I knew I wanted to get away, because the circuit lends itself to that," said Rhodes to Cyclingnews. "Liz went, and I thought, 'Yeah, she's pretty strong, I'll try and go with her.'"
The pair powered onward and their lead upward, their advantage growing by the minute as a disorganised and seemingly disenfranchised peloton just couldn't awake from their mid-morning slumber. So committed were Young and Rhodes, in fact, that the dynamic duo lapped the field, prompting the commissaires to call an early sprint to decide third, which was won by Young's club-mate Wendy Habermann.
With the field asked to retire, the lap-counter read three to go, and simultaneously signalled a game of cat-and-mouse between the remaining pair. In the end, Rhodes used the final uphill U-turn to start her sprint early and with Young unable to come around her, the Victorian confidently showed why she's the reigning national criterium champion.
"I sort of wanted to make it a long sprint," Rhodes said about her decision to begin the sprint a good 200 metres out. "We're both more suited to time trials, so I thought if I lead from the front, she [Young] wouldn't be able to come around me."
Then adding in typically dry Aussie humour, "It's always nice to win... it's better than losing!"
Midday marked the start of the final and most eagerly anticipated event of this year's club nationals, the elite men's criterium. A quality field assembled themselves along the Esplanade, and with many seeking redemption after a Caravello 1-2 yesterday in Yandina, the pace quickly hotted up under the blistering midday sun.
Clearly, Caravello's thirsty appetite for a place on the podium was yet to be quenched: yesterday's gold and silver medallists, Tony Mann and Robert Mclachlan, were taking turns firing off like perfectly-timed missiles - when one was caught, the other would counter, and each time the bunch would chase, riders already on their last legs would pop off the back, never to return.
"Well, I had to watch Peter [Milostic] because I wanted to take the overall, so I was just shadowing him the whole race," said Mann to Cyclingnews about his tactics. "We were on equal points going into [the series], I just had to finish ahead of him, so you've got to be on the ball, otherwise he's going to slip away."
With a tight circuit that lent itself to breakaways, as demonstrated by the previous two races, Mclachlan's lone-star move after approximately 15 minutes of racing was looking like it might stick, the Caravello rider still flying solo by the race's midway point. Said Mclachlan, "People say that it's such a tight course, once you get away, it's hard for people to get you back, so I thought I'd have a go.
"I always thought there was a chance [I could stay away], otherwise you wouldn't try; I always thought there was a possibility. I was also thinking about my team-mate Tony; I wanted him to be able to counterattack me, that sort of thing... it's his race, too," he said modestly.
But the Clarence St Crew weren't letting him go without a fight, Brad Mills in particular often showing himself at the front, and slowly but surely, Mills et al. reeled the big man back in with around 20 minutes remaining.
However, three things were a certainty today: sun, speed and Caravello counterattacks. With Mclachlan caught, Mann was next to go, although the recently crowned national road champ appeared to be testing the waters for a far more lethal attack later on. "Yeah, it was just a test," admitted Mann.
"But it is the kind of circuit, where, if you get away and half a lap gap, you can stay away the whole race. I got a couple of good gaps, but there were too many strong riders bringing it back, so I just left it till a few laps to go 'cause you can't bring it back after that."
Sure enough, with just under three to go, local boy Mann made his winning move in front of a parochial and deliriously noisy crowd, who were urging on their hometown hero by bangin' the barriers with all their might. Yet another crash on the second-to-last U-turn sealed Mann's second victory in as many days and the overall series win from Peter Milostic (Penrith Panthers CC).
"I had to do it in front of my own crowd - I've raced here three times and had three bad attempts, so this year I thought I had to give it a bloody good go," said the delighted winner, now with his family and friends all over him.
When asked if he believed he would have won irrespective of the crash which took out his team-mate Rob Mclachlan, Mann thought so.
"Once you're round that corner and you're booting down the straight, even when you've only got a few bike lengths, it's just too hard to bring back. You need about three laps to bring it back around here; it's just too tight otherwise," he said.
In the sprint for second, age-defying veteran of Australian cycling, Hilton McMurdo (Northern Districts) took line honours with Milostic third, his second bronze and fourth medal of the championships, capping off a fantastic week for the Sydneysider.
When Cyclingnews caught up with Mclachlan, who was lucky to escape with minor grazes, he wasn't a happy camper: "When 15 guys all crash on the same corner in one race, there's something wrong with the course, you know what I mean," he said, feeling a little sorry for himself.
"It's off-camber, it happens every year and I think they've got to think about moving the course. In my opinion, it's a dangerous course - people don't slip out on the dry on the same course... and that's what happened."
Unsurprisingly, Mann felt the opposite: "There's nothing else [like it] having everyone here: all my family, friends... a home win. It was just awesome!"
Images by David Magahy/www.goldcoastphotography.com
Elite Men, hour + 5 laps 1 Tony Mann (Caravello Joinery CC) 2 Hilton McMurdo (Northern Districts) 3 Peter Milostic (Penrith Panthers CC) 4 Kurt Dutton (Victor Cycle Club) 5 Peter Herzig (Uni Cycle Club) 6 Bradley Mills (Clarence St CCC) 7 Brendan Hill (Lifecycle Cycling Club) 8 Gilbert Gutskowli (Broncos) 9 Robert Lyte (Hinchinbrook Cycling Club) 10 Matthew Newlands (Victor Cycles) 11 Gaethan Cutri (Melbourne Univercity Cycling Club) 12 Robert McLachlan (Caravello Joinery CC) DNF Brian Appleyard (Clarence St CCC) DNF Daniel Alcock (Coffs Harbour CC) DNF Anthony Challinor (Parramatta CC) DNF Simon Walker (Carnegie Caulfield) DNF Nigel Dunstone (Caravello Joinery CC) DNF Greg Rossiter (Southern Cross Cycling Club) DNF Mark Hooper (Geelong West CC) DNF Leighton Jefferson (Caravello Joinery CC) DNF Jeremy Betts (Lifecycle Cycling Club) DNF Ross Cattle (Sunshine Coast Cycling Club) DNF Stefan Cecconi (Midland CC) Elite Women, 30 minutes + 3 laps 1 Alexis Rhodes (Norwood C.C.) 2 Liz Young (Lifecycle Cycling Club) 3 Wendy Habermann (Lifecycle Cycling Club) 4 Kate Nichols (St George CC) 5 Claire Baxter (Hawthorn Citizens Youth Club) 6 Candice Sullivan (CATS) 7 Nikki Egyed (Lifecycle Cycling Club) 8 Sally Cowman (Victor Cycle Club) 9 Belinda Goss (Mersey Valley Devonport CC) 10 Anna Jones-Perrin (Hamilton Pine River Wheelers) DNF Jemma O'Brien (St George CC) DNF Christine Riakos (St George CC) DNF Kate Charge (Lidcombe Auburn CC) DNF Melissa Trims (Lifecycle Cycling Club) DNF Jennifer Finlay (Hamilton Pine River Wheelers) DNF Sonya Keay (Hamilton Pine River Wheelers) DNF Briana James (St Kilda Cycling Club Inc) DNF Vanessa Crawford (Hamilton CC) DNF Kerryn Charman (Geelong West Cycling Club Inc) DNF Gemma Goyne (Carnegie Caulfield CC) DNF Emily Phillips (Blackburn Cycling Club Inc) DNF Rachel Rademaker (Blackburn Cycling Club Inc) DNF Amy Kirk (Midland CC) DNF Cheryl Walker (Carnegie Caulfield) DNF Carly Hibberd (Victor Cycle Club) Under-23 Men 1 Sean Finning (Castlemaine Cycling Club Inc) 2 William Walker (Brunswick Cycling Club Inc) 3 Jonathan Cantwell (Lifecycle Cycling Club) 4 Bradley Payne (CATS) 5 David Kemp (Toowoomba Cycling Club Inc.) 6 Jai Crawford (Hobart Wheelers) 7 James Medlay (Canberra CC) 8 Jonathan Clarke (Carnegie Caulfield) 9 Daniel Bennett (Gold Coast Goldstars C C) 10 Jason Patterson (Townsville Cycle Club) DNF Benjamin Clark (Tamworth CC) DNF Brendan Jones (Inverell Wheelers) DNF Tim Hillard (Gunnedah CTC) DNF Gareth Davies (Lifecycle Cycling Club) DNF Matthew Wood (Kangaroo Point C C) DNF Mathew Rex (Norwood C.C.) DNF Tommy Nankervis (Adelaide CC) DNF Daniel Burtt (Geelong West Cycling Club Inc) DNF Ryan Moody (Geelong West Cycling Club Inc) DNF Michael Teggelove (Echuca/Moama Cycling Club) DNF Casey Munro (Brunswick Cycling Club Inc) DNF Peter Ladd (Bendigo & District CC) DNF Andrew Cochrane (Ballarat/Sebastopol C C) DNF Jason Hegert (Ballarat/Sebastopol C C) DNF Warren Scott (St George CC) DNF Daniel Newnham (Gold Coast Goldstars C C) DNF Keith Evans (Midland CC) DNF Chris D'Amelio (Bairnsdale & Riviera CC) DNF Kurtis Redman (Sunshine Coast Cycle Club) Under-19 Men 1 Tyler McLachlan (Southern Cross CC) 2 Wesley Sulzberger (West Tamar CC) 3 Luke Cridland (Southern Cross CC) 4 Joshua Wall (Illawarra CC) 5 Russell Gill (Norwood C.C.) 6 Brett Gillespie (Melville Fremantle CC) 7 Fabio Calabria (Canberra Cycling Club) 8 Jeremy Davis (Ffast Cycle Club) 9 Kai Rothlisberger (Ffast Cycle Club) 10 Mark O'Brien (Horsham Cycling Club Inc) 11 Max Theodore (Sunshine Coast Cycle Club) 12 Jayden Veljacich (Midland CC) 13 Mitchell Pearson (Eurobodalla CTC) 14 Scott Peoples (Shepparton Cycling Club Inc) 15 Nathan Silleto (Canberra Cycling Club) 16 Keegan Aitchison (Southern Cross CC) 17 Christopher Guillan (Southern Cross CC) 18 Grant Patrick (Southern Cross CC) 19 Brendan Brooks (Port Macquarie) 20 Anthony Bennett (Lidcombe Auburn CC) 21 Aaron O'Grady (Coffs Harbour CC) 22 Michael Mellish (Central Coast CC) 23 Mitch Chapman (Bathurst CC) 24 Jacob Kerswill (Sunshine Coast Cycle Club) 25 Brenton Hetherington (Lifecycle Cycling Club) 26 Joel Davis (Kangaroo Point C C) 27 Joel Czislowski (Ffast Cycle Club) 28 Michael Sargeant (Ffast Cycle Club) 29 Jarrod Harman (Mersey Valley Devonport CC) 30 Johnny Walker (Brunswick Cycling Club Inc) 31 Adam O'Connor (Midland CC) 32 Jarrod Denman (NRG Cycling) 33 Tim Walker (West Tarmar CC) Under-19 women 1 Skye-Lee Armstrong (Parramatta CC) 2 Victoria Freeland (Stawell-Great Western C C) 3 Genna Crean (Noarlunga South Coast C.C.) 4 Belinda Thompson (Canberra Cycling Club) 5 Angeline Papajcsik (Balmoral Cycle Club) 6 Joanna Von Berky (Broncos)