13-14 December proved to be an interesting weekend for Armidale cyclists. Mitch Bullen competed in the NSW U19 Keirin Championships on the Saturday, and after blitzing his heat was looking good in the final. But then disaster struck and he was disqualified. While disappointed, Mitch was philosophical about the outcome and is hoping to get the chance to show his potential at the Australian track titles early next year.
Sunday saw the running of the Cronulla International Criteriums, doubling as the Australian Criterium Championships. These were televised live by Channel 9, and if you happened to tune in for the start you would have seen a front row laden with some of Australia’s best cycling talent, including the likes of Graeme Brown, Simon Gerrans, Mark Renshaw, Baden Cooke, Chris Sutton, and Matt Wilson.
And there, at the edge of screen was the unmistakable sight of an Armidale jersey, worn by none other than our very own Geoff Straub. He was there on the starting line, hanging on to the fence in one hand, with both feet clipped in looking like he didn’t want to get left behind in such illustrious company!
You can find a full report on the race here, but briefly, it was won from a two man breakaway which went up the road just before the halfway mark.
Straub put in a brave showing trying to get across the gap to the breakaway, and then joined a group of riders including Wilson, Cooke, Sutton and Brown who were chasing the leaders hard.
Eventually he went back to the main bunch but still finished the race well, coming home in 20th place overall, and 5th in the U23 category. Considering the calibre of the field and that this was a national title race, it was a very impressive performance.
He certainly did the Armidale jersey proud (speaking of which, didn’t it look great on TV!? Eagle eyes should be able to spot it here).
As for the riders in the two man break, they were Tasmanian Bernie Sulzberger who went on to win, and none other than ex-Armidale boy Peter McDonald who finished second. These two rode very strongly to build up a lead which could not be closed down by the main field.
Pete tried to give Sulzberger the slip on the last hill before the finish, but after all the hard work didn’t have the legs, and just missed the latter’s final kick.