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Results from the Inaugural St Kilda Festival Biggin & Scott Criterium Championships

Fitzroy St, St Kilda, February 9, 2003 - Hosted by Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club

Report by Mal Sawford

Belinda in with the boys
Photo: © Mal Sawford
Click for larger image

The famous St Kilda Festival was the back drop for the first event promoted by Marcel Lema, former AIS roadie, and director of Breakaway Cycling Events. With a crowd of over 15,000, and an 800 meter hotdog circuit in the middle of the festival, it proved an ideal location for the colorful spectacle of Criterium racing, and the competitors delivered fantastic racing in front of appreciative crowds.

The feature race was a Teams Race, with 10 four man teams competing for both individual placings, and an overall prize based on points accumulated at the finish. With a midday start, the festival was in full swing, and the crowd lined the barriers right the way round the challenging circuit.

Pre race favorites included the ACR team, lead by dual Australian Champion Robert Tighello and Matt Goold, CBD Cycles with Junior World Championship medallist Nic Sanderson and 17 year old Bay Series sensation William Walker, SBR with new Giant Asia signing Paul Redenback and Australian Club Criterium Champion Chris Carr, Pro-Motion Bicycles with former Australian Under 23 Champion and breakaway winner of the Port Arlington stage of the recent Bay Series Simon Gerrans, and the team from the Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club with reigning Junior World MTB Champion Trent Lowe.

Lowe and Davis
Photo: © Mal Sawford
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Without even one lap to ease into the technical circuit, the attacks started from the gun, with Walker, Tighello and Lowe driving at the front and stringing the bunch out on the narrow circuit. It became quickly obvious that this would be a race of attrition, with the constant surging at the head of affairs, combined with the whiplash effect out of the hair pin corners making things very tough on the unfortunates at the back of the field.

Redenback was the first to open a gap, prompting a response from Tighello and his early shadow Gerrans. The leader fell on the bottom corner, but was quickly able to rejoin the field. Tighello immediately attacked again, but once again could not shake off the bunch led by Gerrans.

Gerrans jumped clear at the 20 minute mark, only to find Tighello was just as quick to respond, and the bunch regrouped. For the first time, the pace slackened slightly, allowing a group containing Richmond Cyclery's Leigh De Luca and Omara's Warren Knevitt to rejoin the bunch, already reduced to only 25 riders.

CBD's Chris Bradford was the next to attack at the 30 minute mark, and forged the biggest lead of the day - a massive 5 seconds! In the chasing pack, Gerrans and Tighello clashed and fell at the bottom corner, and after rejoining the field immediately set off in pursuit of the lone leader. Bradford held his lead for 5 minutes with some good defensive work from team mates Walker and English rider Dan Moore, before the chase finally reeled him in.

Robert Tighello withdrew at the 40 minute mark, finding the fall had taken the edge off his speed, and a few new faces appeared at the front of the peleton. The numbers were with the CBD, which had Walker, Bradford and Moore in the decimated front group, while Carnegie Caulfield's Lowe had team mates Michael Gill and guest Swiss Junior star Ralf Zimmermann just hanging onto the back of the group.

A-Grade podium
Photo: © Mal Sawford
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Zimmermann took the opportunity to attack in a brief lull with under 10 minutes remaining, prompting a quick reaction from Redenback. The CBD boys chased hard, and had just about reeled in the leaders when Redenback attacked again and jumped out to a 5 second lead. With under 5 minutes to go, disaster struck the former MTB star, as he suffered drive train problems right on the 5 lap cut off for the free lap rule, and despite his best efforts to rejoin the pack a skipping chain robbed him of momentum and he had to watch the 10 rider bunch ride away.

With 3 laps to go, Gerrans, Walker and Bradford found a 20 meter advantage, but in one last effort the bunch responded to get the bell together. Bradford put in a big attack, and lead by 20 meters out of the final corner, and with the crowd cheering him on set sail for the line, only to have the diminutive Gerrans make up a huge amount of ground in the final 50 meters to take the win on the line with both arms raised high.

The TAC's Under 19 rider Simon Clarke was next over the line, leading home Carr, Goold, Walker, Gill and Zimmermann. Despite being the only finisher from the Pro-Motion squad, Gerrans' 10 points were also enough to take out the teams prize by a single point over the unlucky CBD team.

After the race, Gerrans took the time to answer a few questions on how the race unfolded. When asked how important the race was to him he replied " It's very important. It was great to win in front of all the people at the St Kilda Festival, and I was pretty determined all day. You have to be aggressive on a short circuit like this; you can't afford to float to the back. There were only about 15 finishers, so if you went too far back your race was over." When asked what the pre race team tactics, he responded candidly "we didn't really have any team tactics going in at all! It's not an event that tactics come into. You have to be at the front all day and there's not a lot your team mates can do for you. Iwas lucky there were a few CBD guys left to bring back any dangerous breaks at the finish though."

A happy Simon Gerrans
Photo: © Mal Sawford
Click for larger image

Gerrans was also quizzed on his plans for the rest of the 2003 season, which he will be spending with the Norwegian team Ringerik. "I head off in about 3 weeks to South Africa with my team for a training camo and a few races, then head off to Europe from there." His team mates include an English and Swedish riders, with 6 Norwegians. Asked about his Norwegian language skills, he replied "it's non existant! Fortunately all the Norwegians speak English so I should be OK there."

Support races were held throughout the morning, with C grade opening the show at 9am. Not many locals are around at that hour, many have just headed home after a big Saturday night! Consistent place getter in C Grade club races Brett Rossiter had been given one last chance to pull of a win before promotion to B Grade, but after an typically attacking and hard working race, the 'eternal second' had to settle for his 5th second placing of the season, behind in form rider Matt Young, who benefited from the assistance of Richmond Cyclery team mates Nick and Chris Taplin. V8 Super Car driver Cameron McConville (SBR), racing as cross training for his body pounding motor sport profession impressed with a third place finish ahead of leading Masters rider.John Curran. Tasmanian Junior star Belinda Goss impressed with a front running performance, and only narrowly missed a place in the sprint to the line.

Team tactics dominated the B Grade support event. After O'Mara's Rob Doyle went clear at the half way mark and looked threatening, too much speed into the top corner saw him rubber side up, and the bunch back in contention. Paul Kenny, riding for Gran Prix Cycles, attacked, and quickly opened a 10 second advantage. With 3 team mates controlling the pace at the front of the bunch, his advantage grew to a maximum of 30 seconds, around half a lap on the short circuit. Karl Woods and Grant Jamieson both made strong bids to bridge to the leader alone, but out front Kenny showed no sign of slowing and went to the line a clear victor. The Gran Prix boys lifted the pace in the closing stages to try to sew up second place, and held the front 3 places out of the final corner. Hamish Taylor took the bunch sprint for second, from Anthony Smith, with only a good sprint from former AFL footballer Brad Davies (1989 Morris Medallist) preventing a clean sweep.

So impressive was the team effort from the Gran Prix boys, that they were offered a start in the Diamondback A Grade race which followed. Kenny backed up his great performance with an attacking ride, but the faster pace prevented a lasting escape. Shepparton Junior Taigh Banson also tried his hand on a number of occasions, but the bunch was always quick to respond and a bunch sprint looked a foregone conclusion.

Cameron Streistermanis had other ideas, attacking strongly at the bell, and with half a lap to go had 50 meters on the charging bunch. Approaching the finish, the sprinters cane desperately close, but Streistermanis hung on to take the win by half a wheel from Rohan McLellan (Gran Prix), Mark Bourjau (Pro-Motion) and Ryan Moody.


Images by Mal Sawford


Elite Teams Race - Individual (50 mins + 3 laps)
1 Simon Gerrans (Pro-Motion) Carnegie Caulfield CC
2 Chris Bradford (CBD Cycles) Carnegie Caulfield CC
3 Simon Clarke (TAC) Carnegie Caulfield CC
4 Chris Carr (SBR) Carnegie Caulfield CC
5 Matt Goold (ACR), Carnegie Caulfield CC
6 William Walker (CBD Cycles) Brunswick CC
Teams Standings
1 Pro-Motion Bicycles         10 points
2 CBD Cycles                   9 
3 TAC Cycles                   6 
4 SBR                          4 
Diamondback A Grade Criterium (45 minutes + 3 laps)
1 Cameron Streistermanis (Brunswick CC)
2 Rohan McLellan (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
3 Mark Bourjau (St Kilda CC)
4 Ryan Moody (Geelong West CC)
B Grade (45 minutes + 3 laps)
1 Paul Kenny (Melton CC)
2 Hamish Taylor (Brunswick CC)
3 Anthony Smith (Blackburn CC)
4 Brad Davies (Melton CC)
C Grade (40 minutes + 3 laps)
1 Matt Young (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
2 Brett Rossiter (Carnegie Caulfield CC)
3 Cameron McConville (St Kilda CC)
4 John Curran (St Kilda CC)

Australian results from the past week

St Kilda CC Scapin Series Race 2
South East Melbourne Criterium #2
Randwick Botany CC
Murwillumbah CC

Mildura-Comealla CC

Canberra CC
Illawarra CC
Midland CC Joe Colgrove Memorial
VLCC Carliene Doecke Handicap
Carnegie Caulfield CC
Trek Bikes Summer Series #5


Complete Australian results for 2003