It was another fun-filled raceday Saturday at the Armidale Criterium Track again this weekend with 20 riders rolling out in separate, competitive A and B grade races. The A grade race started steadily with one lap turns being taken by most. Sam Munday did seem to be doing more than his share once things settled down but no one was complaining as he ensured the pace stayed at around 1:43 for the 1.2km circuit.
Then on lap 5 things split on the long straight with Sam pulling out a gap followed a bit later by Dave and Kirky. A frantic minute of chasing and regrouping then followed which ultimately resulted in two bunches circulating on the road.
Meanwhile, B grade had been moving nicely as a single group, then at around the same time as the A grade split, Bryn Griffiths attacked over the start-finish line watched closely by Rob Tindale and Richard Wilkinson. Next lap, Bourkey decided to have a go, again monitored by the bunch and once again it didn’t come to anything despite a solid lap on the front.
By this point, Sam King had lost contact with the front of A grade, so it was a bunch of five that were now lapping consistently at around 41-42kph with Johnny, Swanny, Phil Hess and Sam King around half a lap behind. The front was gaining on B grade and the inevitable pass was made at the bottom of the home straight, catching some riders by surprise for a moment.
A few laps later B had been reduced to 9 riders, Derek Shirlaw having now learned the significant difference between a Mara attack and Mars Attacks and Dave Jenner suffering an unfortunate mechanical.
With 3 laps to go in the 25 mins-plus-3-laps B grade race, Rob Tindale was looking good on the front but Clint Bourke was positioning himself like a master once again. He toyed with the bunch and played them like a fiddle, feigning moves left and right and positioning himself well for a hard finish, out-sprintng Bryn to win by 2 bike lengths with Bill Mara grabbing third.
Back in A grade, with 4 laps remaining, Sam Munday glanced over his shoulder and kicked away with no one even bothering to respond. He lapped the back of his own grade, pulling out a lead of over 30s on the chasers, crossing the line for a comfortable victory, then awaiting the tussle for the minor placings. Following a number of mini attacks on the last few laps, purely intended to irritate Kirky, the chasing group disintegrated on the final circuit and it was left to Dave Munday and Pete Harris to fight things out. Dave had the stronger legs in the sprint, crossing the line a couple of seconds ahead.
Many thanks to Pete Creagan for setting up and running the race and congratulations to Sam and Clint once again worthy winners in their class.
Next week we have the Come and Try Day #3 at the track which rolls off at 3pm, followed by a slightly more competitive interclub event with Armidale, Inverell and Tamworth battling out for regional honours at 4pm. Come along at the earlier time and support the new rider development efforts before a hit-out with our other regional clubs.