There was a great turn-out for the first crit of the summer season, with 20 riders rolling up to the TEC to test their legs out. And they would certainly get tested on a windy afternoon, with a strong westerly translating to a block headwind on the long home straight. This meant that riders would be reluctant to put their nose to the wind and would have to pace their efforts carefully; but sitting at the back risked missing out on any splits, which in the conditions would be fatal to anyone left behind. It was also noted that in a bid to combat the windy conditions and shed his nickname Dave Harris had even foregone his trademark flappy shorts!
A grade were first off the mark, with 10 riders rolling out at a steady pace, with 35mins + 3 laps of racing to look forward to – it was also good to see Tinny back in A grade, and Clint Bourke cementing his place where he belongs! They were followed by combined B & C grade, also with 10 riders ready to have a crack over the shorter 30mins + 3 laps.
The challenging conditions saw A grade stay together for the first few laps, but some predictable surges up the hill eventually produced a split 18 minutes into the race, with Tom Simmonds, & Paul Williams tearing up the group, with Mick Hoult, Holly Harris, and the remaining A grade riders left trying to bridge the gap.
At the same time in the race Bryn Griffith blew up B grade with a huge surge that saw him open a small gap, and left a trail of riders in his wake. The only question was whether he’d be able to hold on!
As the dust settled in A grade a lead quartet of 4 riders emerged at the front, with Hammy and Tom being joined by Mick Hoult and Jason Simmonds. The only other rider still in the game was Jonny who missed the initial surge, but was winding up his diesel engine in a bid to get back on. But despite a valiant effort over 3 laps of chasing it wasn’t to be the Eagles day, and he cut his losses to return to the chase group.
In B grade Bryn was still several seconds off the front, but those behind had now regrouped and a pack of 5 riders comprising Nathan Paul, Carl Hooten, Billy Mara, Alex Thomas, and Dene Bourke were now hunting the lone rider down, with the trio Jo Wauch, Dave Jenner, and Wilf not far behind. It wasn’t long before Bryn’s effort was closed down, and this lead group would stay together until the final run for home, with the chasing trio failing to make contact. And as the riders emerged to contest the final sprint, a powerful effort saw Nathan take out the win, closely followed by Bryn in 2nd place, and Carl in 3rd. A special well done also goes to Jane Simmonds who rode the race mostly solo and kept battling away despite the adverse conditions!
As A grade approached the finale, despite strong chasing efforts from those behind, the lead quartet had a established a solid lead of 45 seconds, with Hammy and Tom driving the group along. All 4 riders contested the final sprint, with Hammy showing a clean pair of heels to take out a strong win, with a well deserved close 2nd for Tom. Mick Hoult rounded out the podium with 3rd place, followed closely by Jason. Meanwhile the chase group had kept up a strong tempo, and although they hadn’t managed to close the gap, a well contested sprint saw Jonny take out 5th place just ahead of the lycra-clad Flappy.
Well done to all riders for their efforts in tough conditions. Thanks again to Col for running the race and keeping the grades under control as the racing unfolded. Next week we return to the crit track at the same time.