With just 2 weeks remaining until the 2015 Club Championships, it was time for a criterium at the TEC this weekend and 15 riders showed up under grey skies in blustery conditions to get some speed back into their legs. Wilf was about third substitute to run the race but thanks to him we had some good action although fortunately his idea of an individual time trial “to warm up the legs” was dismissed by the quite vocal crowd (yep, Kirky was back). The crowd also had their way in convincing the timekeeper that the race should follow the standard Cycling Australia rules of being a set time plus three (3) laps, something that Col had been suggesting for at least three (3) years.
So with the formalities sorted, racing was underway with two groups on the track – a 7-strong A Grade and an 8-strong combined B/C Grade. Wilf set A Grade off first led by Mick Sherwood at such pace that he’d split the field by the second bend, only taking a couple of riders with him. Things regrouped quite quickly but he’d set the tone for a rapid afternoon of racing which would see A Grade average over 40kph for the 40 minutes plus 3 lap race.
B/C Grade seemed to be going quite well too with Col back for the first time in a while looking like he’d never been away, and also strong showings from Phil Thomas, Dene Bourke and Richard Wilkinson. Young club rider David Cook backed up his earlier racing at Juniors with a fine ride with enough energy to do his turns at the front and coupled with his earlier 1:49 in the ITT, he is showing strong development. Ben Hutton was also backing up his efforts from the previous hour and it’s great to see riders making the transition up into Senior racing – well done lads.
Unfortunately someone (sorry) forgot to start the camera so there isn’t too much timing detail this week or content to share on the B/C Grade race but we have it on good authority that Col broke a spoke coming up the hill on the final lap but a deft bit of high-speed mid-race servicing freed his rim from the brake block in time for him to launch an all-out sprint into the wind down the home straight. Despite Phil winding things up for an impressive finale, Col managed to keep his nose in front to take the win from Phil and Dene with Richard and Dave Jenner topping out the first 5 spots.
In A Grade Mick Sherwood punctured at the top of the straight early on in the race but that didn’t stop Houlty and Sam Munday driving the pace throughout. After about 20 minutes Sam jumped away and with no one volunteering to take up the chase he quickly established a 100m lead. Although he was making light work of the back of the course, the long straight into the wind was proving too tough against the fresher pack behind and after a couple of laps he was reeled back in. Paul Williams, back from his European Alpine Adventure was also showing good form, seemingly having no trouble holding the pace.
When Wilf signaled three laps remaining the speed dropped with no one keen to take up the pace making and it was clear there would be a bunch sprint for the line. Sure enough although Houlty drove hard up the final climb to string out those following, the bunch fanned out across the road as the line approached. Sam waited patiently and went late but in sufficient time to come around Houlty for the win with all other riders finishing within a few bike lengths of each other.
Congratulations to our winners today, Sam and Col and thanks again to Wilf for running the race at short notice. Thanks also to Kirky who did an outstanding job as a sweeper today, not only during the race but also beforehand as this shot demonstrates. Nice action, eye on the broom, watching the follow through. Shame about the cleats.
Next weekend we are back on Long Swamp for another round in the RROTY competition although several club riders will be representing Armidale racing in Mudgee and at the Cunningham Classic. Good luck to those riders and to everyone in preparation for the Club Championships on August 8th.