Andrew Kirk provided a demonstration of pure class, destroying the competition in A-Grade this weekend, sending a strong message to his rivals ahead of the New England Mutual Autumn Festival Criterium, now less than 2 weeks away.
With Iron Man Mick Hoult on the sidelines along with our recovering stars Swanny and Tinny, there was plenty of strategy involved in the timing of the four Primes that were signalled throughout the 35 minute-plus-3-laps race. Ever the professional, Houlty remained objective, despite Swanny urging him to “make them go again” while they were still recovering from the last sprint, and Tindale wanting to wait until Kirky had just been caught from yet another solo burst off the front. Meanwhile Johnny had no idea when the sprint laps were as each one was signalled by Houlty’s environmentally-friendly car horn which was drowned out by Kirky’s constant jabbering each time he passed the start-finish line. It was only on the final lap (which was visually signalled) that Johnny actually had some advance warning and he responded with an impressive trademark long-range effort but even that wasn’t enough to overhaul Kirky who crossed the line with both hands on the bars riding in a straight line*
In B-Grade, things were a little more serious, and in fact there was a point when it looked like the riders might catch the smaller A-Grade bunch ahead. Racing for 5 minutes less and with one less sprint lap, the pace was steady until the first Prime which Phil “Keglegs” Thomas won impressively having joined the race on the fourth lap due to an issue with his homework. Lachie then attacked on the 6th lap and pulled out a gap of 7s with Richard Wilko chasing. After that it all came back together with Phil also winning the second sprint by a country mile. Clint bagged the third after which Col and Lachie pulled away, establishing a gap of 6s on Keglegs and Wilko. Clearly in determined mood, Col then extended the gap on his own to 8s on Lachie with Wilko 3s further back with 3 laps to go. As they started the final lap, Tom Simmonds appeared from nowhere overhauling Lachie with Wilko and Phil in close attendance while Col continued to pull away out front. In the end, Col won by a comfortable margin, crossing the line 10s ahead of Wilko, with Tom hanging in for third spot.
Many thanks to Houlty for running a good, challenging race and well done to our winners on the day, Kirky and Col. Next week we have an ITT on Long Swamp and after that, the main even of the criterium season – the Armidale Autumn Festival on 20th March. If you haven’t already registered, fill out the online form ASAP to reserve a place.
* Factually incorrect on two counts