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Springvale Necropolis, December 17, 2002

Top locals tune up for Bay Crits

By Malcolm Sawford

A Grade leaders
Photo: © Malcolm Sawford
Click for larger image

With the temperature still hovering around the 30 degree mark, racing promised to be hot in more ways than one! As usual, two of Australia's best Crit riders in Hilton Clarke (SBR) and Robert Tighello (ACR) promised to make things tough for the more mortal competitors as they fine tune preparations to give Robbie McEwen a run for his money in the Bay Series.

Clarke, last year's second place finisher in the Bay Series, and determined to go one better this year, has been rewarded for his outstanding year with US Division III team Schroeder Iron with a contract from the new South African Pro Team Barloworld. Clarke heads to South Africa in late January after the Australian Open Road Championships for a month of local racing before the team sets up operations in France for the remainder of the year.

The two top Grades raced on the Avenue of Roses circuit tonight. At just under 1.2km in length, the back straight climbs gradually along its length before a nasty increase in gradient just before the two left turns that bring riders back onto the short finishing straight. Unlike the longer Memorial Gardens circuit where the technical corners string the bunch out making things tough for the stragglers, the Roses circuits seems to allow riders at the back of the bunch to hang on without too much difficulty, but moving up or holding position up the front is another thing entirely!

Guy Green (Le Tour) wasn't waiting around when the race started, attacking on the first lap and opening a 200m gap by the end of the second lap. Unfortunately for him, the carrot proved too tempting for the big hitters, and by the 15 minute mark a select group of 4 had chased him down and were moving away from the field.

Tighello and Clarke were joined by Barcelona Olympian Rob Crowe (BikeNOW) and last weeks breakaway companion Leigh De Luca and were 15 seconds ahead of a bunch that were combining well and chasing hard. The pace proved too hot for 'Crowey' and after a few laps he was on his way back to the bunch. By the half way mark the leader's advantage was 40 seconds, and the impetus had gone out of the chase and riders attempted to bridge in small groups.

With Jonny Clarke (VIS) and Matt Goold (ACR) playing police man to the chasers, all attempts were doomed, and soon after the leading trio lapped the field. Rather than confuse race officials, Clarke and Tighello very considerately went past the bunch, this time with Goold along for the ride. De Luca was content to stay with the bunch with his third place secure.

At the finish, Tighello took out the win from Clarke, with Goold staying with the leaders to take 4th one lap down. Sprinter Simon Walker (Bicycle Superstore) lead the bunch home ahead of Crowe to round out the prize list.

Scott Setford and Jamie Davey opened an early advantage in the B Grade race, before Davey decided to go it alone. The 25 second advantage 25 minutes in wasn't enough, and after his capture the bunch was content to keep the pace high enough to discourage further attacks.

Bruce Will powered the bunch in the closing stages, while form sprinters Darren Cathie, Scott Rush (Pro-Motion) and Russell Newnham jockeyed for position behind. Rush, after a run of near misses emerged from the final corner with a few lengths lead and held on to take his first win, ahead of Aaron Salisbury (BikeNOW), Cameron Hunter (ACR) and last weeks winner Dylan Boone (Fitzroy). Lizzie Williams (Gran Prix) rode another typically effortless race at the front of bunch, but desperately needs some more female competitors to step up to her level of competition!

The C Grade race was over almost before it had even started! Paul Groves wasn't happy with the slow pace and rode away after the first corner and lead at the end of the first lap by over 400m! With most in the bunch oblivious to his escape, Groves powered away to lead by 45 seconds midway through the race before being joined by Doug Muller and David Taylor after a long chase. Taylor overdid it in the chase and blew soon after reaching the leader, leaving Muller alone to work with Groves all the way to the finish.

Muller lead the two up sprint out, and just held off Groves, while Taylor recovered well from his earlier efforts to lead the bunch home ahead of Chris Garrard. Lizzie Williams (Gran Prix) rode another typically effortless race at the front of bunch, but desperately needs some more female competitors to step up to her level of competition! The two leading women sprinters fought a tight battle to decide their division, with trackie Catherine Allen (Giramondo) taking the honors ahead of Cheryl Hickman (Bicycle Superstore).

Dion Warburton took out the D Grade bunch finish inches ahead of Dirt Riders President Chris Beales, looking very comfortable on the skinny tires! Geoff Rushen and Darren Moore filled the minor placings, with Eliza Beasley the only lady to survive the hotter than normal pace.

Daryl O'Grady finally earned his way to D Grade by taking out the novice E Grade event from Noel Griffiths, with Matt Flaherty holding off young Jason Rushen for third place.

Racing continues Tuesday nights on the circuit except for Christmas and New Year's Eves, with the Police Road gate (Melways Map 80 G6) opens at 6pm for race starts for all grades at 6.30. Sunday races at Glenvale Crescent (Melways Map 80 B2) continue every week except December 29. 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 $39, 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 Malcolm Sawford


A Grade (1 hour+ 3 laps) 37 starters
1 Robert Tighello (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
2 Hilton Clarke (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
3 Leigh De Luca (Noble Park-Dandenong CC)
4 Matt Goold (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
5 Simon Walker (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
6 Robert Crowe (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
B Grade (1 hour + 3 laps) 36 Starters
1 Scott Rush (SKCC)
2 Aaron Salisbury (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
3 Cameron Hunter (Blackburn CC)
4 Dylan Boone (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 
C Grade (50 mins + 3 laps) 41 starters , 8 women
1 Matt Young (Euchuca-Moama CC)
2 Paul Groves (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
3 David Taylor (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
4 Chris Garrard (SKCC)
1 Catherine Allen (Blackburn CC)
2 Cheryl Hickman (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
D Grade (45 mins + 3 laps) 22 starters, 3 woman
1 Dion Warburton (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
2 Chris Beales (Dirt Riders CC)
3 Geoff Rushen (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
4 Dion Warburton (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
Unplaced Women
1 Eliza Beasley (SKCC)
E Grade (40 mins + 3 laps) 8 starters
1 Daryl O'Grady (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
2 Noel Griffiths (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
3 Matt Flaherty (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
4 Jason Rushen (Carnegie Caulfield CC)



Australian results from the past week

Randwick Botany CC Criterium
Canberra CC ITT
Caesar's Illawarra CC
St Kilda CC Criterium
Carnegie Caulfield CC (Dec 8)
Mildura-Coomealla CC Criterium
Mildura-Coomealla CC ITT
Carnegie Caulfield CC (Dec 10)
Canberra CC Criterium


Complete Australian results for 2002