Thanks Clint Bourke for running a great criterium race yesterday, providing results, photography and the following race report – what a guy!
There was a good turnout of 15 riders at TEC for what was sure to be some hot action with temperatures in the high 20s and not much wind to cool it down. Everyone was pumped up from watching Sam Jenner do what he does best during the week on TV in the Tour Down Under. What an effort from the youngest rider in the World Tour field!
The website stated there would be a 40 minute crit for A grade and a 35 minute crit for B grade, but this caused some debate before the race with some looking to shorten the times given the hot temperature. Given I wasn’t riding I decided to go with the longer times. It is important to note that Kirky was also keen for the longer crit at this point.
A grade contained eight strong riders in Houlty, Hughy, Kirky, Holly, Johnny, Rob Hale, Sam King and David Cook. The early pace was blistering (including a 1:39 circuit on lap 4) and resulted in Johnny and Holly going off the back after 9 minutes before taking the shortcut to join on and do some solid laps after this. Rob Hale lost touch after 12 minutes and then made it his mission to hold off B grade for as long as possible which was a good solo effort for quite some time. Hughy attacked a few times throughout the race and put in a big effort after 24 minutes which Cook shut down. Houlty attacked up the hill 27 minutes in and then again down the straight with Hughy going with him until they were caught shortly after. At the 31 minute mark Cook lit up the burners and took Houlty with him in a break away. The bunch kept them within reach for a couple of laps but the gap then started to increase to the point where it was certain that either Houlty or Cook would get the orange jersey. David was on the front up the hill but it was a side by side sprint down the straight which Cook won by half a wheel with Houlty screaming words of encouragement at him. Kirky kept putting his finger up at me from about the 30 minute point onwards but I had to tell him that he was incorrect in thinking there was only one lap to go. I think at this point he was regretting campaigning for the 40 minutes. Hughy beat home Kirky and Sam King who finished fourth and fifth respectively in what was surely a hard day in the saddle at that speed in those conditions.
There were seven riders in B grade including Paul Williams who demoted himself to avoid ending up in emergency on the drip again (sorry Paul). Also in the bunch were Wilf, Richard Wilko, PC, Tinny, Carl Hooton and Lachie. Carl was unfortunate to have a mechanical on the first lap that ended his race. The early pace was intense with some laps averaging over 40kph. Rocket Man Wilf flamed out after 10 minutes but kept rolling around well. PC was next to fall victim to the pace after 16 minutes. Lachie lasted for most of the race but went off the back before the three laps to go signal. This left just Paul, Wilko and Tinny in the top three shootout. On the final lap it was Paul who shot up the hill like there was a drip waiting for him at the finish line to win by a comfortable margin. Wilko came home a strong second with Tinny coming in third. A strong ride by all three.