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Eastern Suburbs Criterium
Heffron Park, NSW, November 12, 2002
By John Sunde
Tuesday night summer racing returned to Heffron Park last week for the 18th season of the Eastern Suburbs Cycling Club's very popular 30 km criterium run on a graded handicap format over 15 laps of the demanding and always very windy Heffron Park.
68 riders turned up to start the season off last Tuesday, many struggling from post Melbourne Cup celebrations, however, the handicap ran true to form as a strong A grade caught 5 C grade escapees on the last lap, before the undisputed King of Heffron, Anthony Spurgeon launched his trademark powerhouse sprint to start the summer where he left off last season.
Maybe Spurge over did it last week, as he was assigned to lap board duties for tonights race with a sore back complaint or was it from Sunday night at the Clovelly? With King out of action, all the pretenders were keen to line up and a claim a win, but with a howling north easterly sweeping across the circuit, any victory was going to be a hard fought effort.
Big jump in numbers this week with almost 90 riders lining up in the three grades, B grade the biggest with 36, then 28 in C grade and 21 in A grade - obviously the increased entry fee and prize pool is working.
Within the 2nd lap riders were already struggling to hold the wheel in the gusty conditions with Campbell Kerr quick to claim that $5 a lap wasn't very good value. C grade began making good ground and at the half way point of the race were still nowhere in sight of the large B grade bunch who seemed intent on riding individually as strongman Geoff Butler, amid claims of something to do with handbags, decided to ride away with Adam Radford to close the gap on their own.
The true impact of the conditions became obvious with four laps to go when only five of the original A grade bunch of 21 caught the remnants of the B grade bunch. Driven by Stewart 'Computer' Campbell and supported by Jose Rodrigeuz, Steve Williams and super vets Liam Kelly and Laurie Vignes, B grade were quickly demolished as only four riders managed to get on the A grade train.
At the bell, the nine A/B grade riders still had a considerable gap to close on the C grade bunch and in the finale, it was C grade by about 300 metres with Alan Bozunovic claiming his first outright win to take a well deserved victory in very tough conditions. In the chase behind for A & B grade honours, the bunch split after a Steve Williams attack which saw Stewart Campbell take A grade, while up and coming junior Chris Jenkins and John Sunde fought it for B grade, with Chris Jenkins showing young legs are faster than old legs to grab what will no doubt be the start of many more wins.
To finish off a night of punishing racing, which is always coupled with the odd tantrum and heat of the moment incidents, Jose Rodrigeuz was awarded the A grade win when it was discovered Stewart Campbell took advantage of an extra lap out.
Images by John Sunde
1 Alan Bozunovic (Easts) 2 Craig Dempsey (Easts) 3 Dave McPherson (Randwick Botany) 4 Stefan Bosunovic (Easts) 5 Graham Allen (Easts) First A Grade Jose Rodrigeuz (Easts) First B Grader Chris Jenkins (Randwick Botany)