The 2017 Regional Australia Bank Autumn Festival Criterium races finished with a flourish on Sunday morning with Inverell’s Dylan Sunderland (NSWIS) cruising to victory after lapping the A-Grade field towards the end of a fast and furious 48-minute race.
On-board A-Grade with Tamworth’s Mark Stewart
It looked like it would be an unlucky 13th edition of the race with heavy rain falling overnight, but right on cue at 7am the sun appeared. The track dried out in time for Armidale’s premier road race event to get underway with a combined C/D Grade race at 9:30am. A strong local contingent saw Armidale take full honours in this event with Jason Simmonds just edging out Clint Bourke for first place. Richard Wilkinson completed the home clean sweep in third place after also claiming one of the intermediate sprints, the other going to David Menzies (Gold Coast).
An exciting B-Grade race followed with numerous solo attacks throughout, most notably from locals Pete Harris (who picked up two intermediate sprints) and Andrew Kirk. Josh Denham made a bold move with just over 2 laps remaining and the move stuck allowing the Armidale rider to cruise over the line with a fine win ahead of Stuart Jakeman (PMCC) and Rob Wright (Tamworth). Luke O’Connor (Tamworth) collecting the third sprint prize.
The sun was still shining when the 45-minute plus-3-laps A-Grade race got underway with an impressive line-up of riders and a now-growing local crowd. The pace was hot from the start with numerous efforts off the front throughout until around two-thirds distance when Dylan Sunderland launched a stinging attack that no one could respond to. The NSWIS rider quickly built up a commanding lead. He took out two intermediate sprints in the process and while the bunch tried to chase, they were unable to close the gap. With a handful of laps remaining Sunderland had lapped the pack on the 800m circuit and assured of victory, watched a good tussle for the remaining places with Coffs Harbour riders Kerrod Parker and Will McClennon just edging out Inverell’s Peter Horwood who had to be content with winning an earlier sprint. Alex Beedie (Coffs) and Shane Edmonds (Inverell) took the remaining sprint prizes.
Warm congratulations to all our winners on the day and a huge thank you to all competitors, many of whom traveled significant distances to make it to the start line. Commiserations to those who attempted to make it to Armidale but were forced to turn back due to road closures and overnight flooding. Thank you also to all our generous club sponsors, to ACC Club President Mark Bullen for calling the race and to all race officials, the Armidale Council, race organisers and helpers without who this great event could never take place.
|2nd||102||Kerrod Parker||Coffs Harbour|
|3rd||105||Will McClennon||Coffs Harbour|
|Sprints||107||Dylan Sunderland (x2)||Inverell|
|103||Alex Beedie||Coffs Harbour|
|2nd||154||Stuart Jakeman||Port Macquarie|
|Sprints||138||Pete Harris (x2)||Armidale|
|164||David Menzies||Gold Coast|