Michael Harris has been crowned as Armidale Cycling Club’s new 2018 Criterium Champion after a peerless effort at the TEC on Saturday afternoon in A-Grade. Hayden Freeman took the B-Grade title and Derek Shirlaw won C-Grade.
A-Grade was a well-stocked affair with 16 riders including visitors from Inverell and Manning Vale. Given the status of the race, these riders were instructed to avoid chasing down attacks or contributing to efforts to do so. This suited most although Brent Rhys once again showed excellent form enjoying a solo attack off the line and then later acting in the role of minder to Mick Harris.
Harris was strong throughout, attacking a reduced bunch of nine riders after 17 minutes in the early stages of an enthralling race. The following lap Dave Munday did the same thing but both were pulled back. Mick’s early attack proved to be a sighting one, as after 20 minutes he made the clinical move. He’d pulled a gap of 7 seconds within one lap which grew to 10, then 12 seconds and the chase was on. The extra pace signaled the end for several of the bunch which was now down to just three Armidale riders – Michael Hoult, Dave Munday and Holly Harris. Despite solid efforts from all three, they could not close the gap and twelve laps later, Mick crossed the line, a very worthy winner.
25 seconds later, there was a monster sprint effort for second place between Dave Munday and Michael Hoult. If Houlty had moved a metre to the left he’d have clinched it thanks to the TEC’s infamous deformed line but he stayed true and the result is a tough one to call, what do you think?
Holly Harris was the only other Armidale rider finishing with the front-runners after yet another hard-fought race that kept the B and C grade spectators roadside after their own race.
B-Grade and C-Grade were combined with Derek Shirlaw and Jo Wauch forming the latter race. Jo was the first to slip off the back after a few hot early laps with Derek hanging in a little longer but also eventually succumbing to the higher pace. Dave Jenner had a stand-out ride having nominated to move up to B-Grade, eventually finishing a very credible 5th out of 17 riders.
The usual suspects made the running at the front in a race without any major breaks or chases. Wilf, Ben Livings and Pat McMillan all had a try but were quickly overcome by the large bunch that seemed set for a sprint finish once again.
Carl Hooton rode another good race and was once again positioned well at the finish for an early effort that might outfox the bigger sprinters. It was not to be though, and despite a good sprint it was Hayden Freeman who took the honours by five bike lengths from Carl, the pair well ahead of third placed Alex Thomas and the splintered remainder of a large bunch.
Congratulations to Mick, Hayden and Derek and well done to everyone who competed on the day. Thanks also to Col Maciver for running the race and to all the helpers, spectators and visitors who made it a really successful 2018 Club Criterium Championship.
A-Grade (45mins + 3 Laps)
|SWAN Andrew||08||1 Lap||1 Lap|
|APPS Angus||09||1 Lap||1 Lap|
Combined B/C-Grade (30mins + 3 Laps)
|TUTT Olive||13||1 Lap|