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Eastern Suburbs Criterium
Heffron Park, NSW, November 26, 2002
B Graders take the honours, keeping Brownie at bay
After the 2nd hottest November day on record in Sydney on Monday when the mercury hit 40 degrees, temperatures cooled down a little on Tuesday to the low 30s for another night of hot, fast and windy racing at Heffron Pk.
The high temperatures, strong dry winds and demanding Heffron Pk circuit, not to mention the entry fee, still didn't deter the riders as a record number of 95 lined up for this weeks graded handicap over 30kms.
Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo pro Graeme Brown was an impressive addition to the A grade scratch bunch and if A grade were going to catch B & C grades, then maybe the Heffron tifosi were going to witness Brownie's sprint which bagged him a second place behind Cipo in this year's Giro.
With such firepower in the 22 strong group, it appeared achievable, but a slightly increased handicap for A grade meant they were staring down the barrel from the start.
An inside report from the A grade peloton tells how it unfolded: "As usual, A grade, which will forever be known as 'soap opera' was its own worst enemy. With typical backstabbing, underhandedness and conniving, the riders rode themselves out of the race.
"Again, Stewart 'Computer' Campbell was the main driver with his brutal turns forcing the King of Heffron, Anthony Spurgeon to lose contact with a final selection of CJ Sutton, Steve Williams, Andrew Curro, Paul Rowney, Graeme Brown and a soft pedalling Liam Kelly. But it was all too little too late."
Meanwhile up front, a 33 strong B grade, all fired up after Dr Bob Hampshire who finally made it to the start line on time was intent on keeping the chasing A grade bunch at bay. Further in front, the biggest bunch of night C grade with 40 riders, were slowly coming apart in the windy conditions, as their 15 strong lead group were caught with 2 to go.
With A grade clearly out of running for overall honours for the 3rd week in a row, the finale was left for a charged up B grade who were being driven by Randwick Botany juniors Robbie Cater and Chris Jenkins, together with an experienced contingent of St George masters.
Into the wind before the sprint, it was the St George masters who made the run when John Sunde tried to steal the race, before the true master, 1984 LA Olympian Kevy Nichols showed his improving form by coming off Matt Bazzano's lead out to claim overall victory.
And just to complete the masters' superiority for the night, comeback kid Roger Shackelton won the gallop for 1st C grade place.
Overall 1 Kevin Nichols (St George) 2 Trent Iliffe (Easts) 3 Matthew Bazzano (St George) 4 John Sunde (St George) 5 Chris Jenkins ( Randwick Botany) A Grade 1 Liam Kelly (Easts) C Grade 1 Roger Shackelton (Waratah)