A torrential downpour just an hour before the scheduled start of Saturday’s criterium didn’t seem to deter anyone and racing rolled off on time at 4pm thanks to a rapidly drying 30+ degree breeze. A-grade was a little low on numbers with just 8 riders and three of those ended up with a DNF once again after another relentless high-paced session – this week it was 40 minutes plus 3 laps. B-Grade ran at 30 minutes plus 3 which was a good move, avoiding any lap counting confusion at the end of proceedings. It was great to see junior recruit, Olive Tutt, back for more and this week riders were also joined by the Worth brothers from Manning Valley CC.
While A-grade was straight into things, lapping away at a good pace, B-grade was slowly building up speed. Pat McMillan and Hayden Freeman couldn’t cope with that and on lap four they jumped away and established a healthy lead of around 9s. It didn’t last though and the bunch was soon back together, now at a notably higher pace. Marcus Worth was doing a great job hanging in with the senior riders and courtesy of a few strategic short-cuts and track launches from Col, the young rider was never far from the action.
The fifth loop in A-grade highlighted on-form riders Houlty, Hammy and Dave Munday who pulled out a short gap after a hard charge down the straight and although most regrouped, the pace was on. Two laps later and they were already onto the back of B-grade on the 1.2km circuit. Yet again, the overtaking was cautious and safe, taking a good half lap to navigate past the B-grade pace line through the tighter bends. After 15 minutes, A-grade was down to six riders with Jason Simmonds still just about hanging in. Paul Williams was showing great form along with Houlty and Holly and Marcus Worth had worked out the racing lines and settled into the bunch rhythm.
Phil Thomas was now pulling off the front of B-grade and having shepherded Olive in the early stages, Peter Wilkinson was doing the same thing at the back. The pattern was set for the remainder of the race – a few riders would make a small attack, get a handful of seconds advantage, then everyone would regroup within a lap. Those trying included Keglegs, Hayden, Richard Wilko, Pat McMillan and Ben Livings who looked to be hitting some real form ahead of the up-coming Autumn Festival in 3 weeks time.
Derek Shirlaw continued his endurance training, dragging himself back into contention over the hill lap after lap. Eventually he succumbed to a quicker ascent by the front runners on lap thirteen. A few laps later A grade lapped B once again with the five riders involved swapping turns and circulating very smoothly in what had become a war of attrition.
With two laps to go in B-grade, and on the back of 150km training ride the day before, Wilf delivered a trademark solo attack, leading the long string of riders on a pacey few hundred metres before exploding dramatically and shooting straight out the back. Up the final climb of the hill, who should come to the front but Olive Tutt. The youngster weaving skillfully through the grunting older riders and dancing away to round the top corner at the front of the pack with the finish line in sight. Hayden Freeman was onto it in a flash, first following the wheel and then jumping clear. He wound up his big sprint to win by a comfortable 2s over Carl Hooton and Keglegs who topped off a strong race in third. Note: Carl Hooton is not Angus Apps despite this esteemed publication claiming so in an earlier version of this post. Not sure who to apologise to there – maybe both!
A few minutes later A-grade screamed by the start line to commence their final lap and it was Houlty who would end up the winner after a drag race down the home straight. Hammy Williams couldn’t muster the strength to come round him, crossing the line locked on Houlty’s back wheel with Dave Munday finishing third a few bike lengths behind.
Many thanks to the weather gods for allowing racing to go ahead and also to Greg Flynn for being on duty and running the race ably assisted by Col. Congratulations to Hayden and Houlty and good luck to Armidale riders racing in the Tamworth Interclub event on Sunday morning.
A-Grade (40mins + 3 Laps)
|HESS Phil||DNF (L05)||0:00:00|
|HALE Rob||DNF (L09)||0:00:00|
|SIMMONDS Jason||DNF (L14)||0:00:00|
B-Grade (30mins + 3 Laps)
|WORTH Thomas||DNF (L05)||0:00:00||0:00:00|
|WILKINSON Peter||DNF L10)||0:00:00||0:00:00|