That was the number of races won by our respective clubs at the Inverell Criterium on Saturday 28 March, attended by a large number of Armidale riders.
Not that we were disgraced – far from it – there were some very good performances from Armidale riders. But the Inverell club always puts up stiff opposition.
For Armidale the day kicked off with a third place to Reece Burton in the U11’s, which might have been better had his dad Craig not done up his helmet quite so tight!
In the same race, Sam Jenner was second in the U13’s after having a close encounter with the traffic island on the last corner just as he was about to wind up for the trademark Jenner sprint. Naran Singh also rode very well for a third place in the U13’s.
Next up was the U15/U17 race which gave us our sole win for the day. A big Armidale field, including Cody Burton, Ben Castle, Karlee McMillan, Reece and Kyle OHara, and Angus Swan took on a similar number of riders from Inverell.
The Inverell group were intent on breaking the race up by launching a number of attacks but our troops weren’t having any of that, with Reece, Angus and Ben particularly attentive. Ben did some excellent work on the front of the bunch in the latter part of the race, keeping the pace up to stop any further breaks.
This set things up for a very good finish, with Angus just getting up on the line over Tom Apthorpe of Inverell, who also rode very well throughout. While Angus was first U17, Tom was first U15, which meant that Reece and Cody ended up in second and third place respectively in the U17 category.
While Karlee and Kyle didn’t stay with the main bunch for the whole race, both had very good rides.
Craig Burton and Al OHara then lined up in D grade, a race which quickly broke up into several small groups. Al was in the second group, and eventually came home in fourth place. Craig meanwhile dropped off early but got stronger as the race went on. Perhaps a better warm up might be in order next time!
In C grade, Dave Jenner got the jump on the field at the half way mark together with Creighton Dolbel of Inverell. The rest of the bunch seemed happy to let them go, with Creighton winning the race ahead of Dave.
A slight misunderstanding led to one Armidale rider sprinting for third place on the second last lap (he’ll have to pay more attention to the commissaire’s instructions next time), but Nick Myhill managed to get fourth place after that little moment of confusion.
Peter Wilkinson, still recovering from a crash in the Autumn Festival last week, took on about 20 Inverell riders in B grade together with Ty Tucker of Tamworth. After a break by four riders, Wilko worked hard to bring the race back together to make things interesting – a good ride under the circumstances. Ty Tucker finished in third place.
The race of the day however was A grade, with Mick Hoult, John Scott-Hamilton and Mitch Sozou lining up against some very fast Inverell riders. It looked like being a tough ask, and that’s the way it turned out.
Not far into the race Mitch was pushed wide into the traffic island on the turn into the main straight, just as Ethan Kimmence (who rode to second place in A grade at the Autumn Festival) attacked with Dan Wilks and Brendan Jones.
This trio quickly built up a handy lead, forcing the Armidale riders to come to the front to try and bridge the gap. They rode extremely well through this period of the race, eventually catching Wilks and Jones.
Ethan Kimmence however showed his class for a second week in a row, easily riding away and putting a lap and a half into the field for the win (and a very gracious winner he was indeed).
The minor placings were decided in the final sprint, with Wilks second and Ben Fox third (Ben was the winner of the B+ race at the Autumn Festival). Mitch Sozou rode very well for fourth place, but just as impressive was the effort of John Scott-Hamilton who has only had a couple of races at this level.
All in all, everyone had a very good day, and we thank the Inverell club for hosting such a well run event.