Author Brad Peppinck
It was a familiar script for round 10 of Crits with the forecast storms failing to materialise, more than 100 riders turning up to try their luck in the blustery conditions.
With the welcome addition of several new juniors, the traditional Handicap required maximum concentration just to work out what was happening and who was in the lead. Quinn Peppinck, who started with three quarters of a lap, rode a strong individual time trial to stay ahead of a chasing bunch that swelled in size as the limit riders picked up their quarries. Despite a powerful chase from Liam Rogers on the bell lap, Quinn had enough in the tank to take a well-deserved first win of the season, Liam finishing fast to take second. Annika Astridge meanwhile showed her attacking spirit to take third having gone clear of the bunch with a big acceleration down the back straight. Newcomer Barney Mungoven lived up to the big expectations that come with the ‘Mungoven’ name riding strongly in his first appearance at the CCC crits, as did Martin Grande representing CORC.
Ian Maas set the pace early as the D grade bunch warmed up their legs. Stuart Nicholls, riding high after his win the week before, kicked off the attacking racing but was covered by Tyler Martin. Oscar Starmer was next to roll off the front but in the windy conditions, couldn’t get a gap. Adam Barneveld threatened to get away with five minutes remaining but was kept in sight thanks to the efforts of Katie Gregory, who drove the chase down the back straight. Zeke Findlay shot out to bridge across but having caught Adam, opted to press on solo, Oscar hot on his heels. Perhaps underestimating the tricky conditions though, the leaders were brought back on the bell before Sanford Beggs out kicked Tyler Martin to win the sprint, Stuart coming home in third. Meanwhile, for the women, Vanessa Judge snuck a wheel in front of Katie Gregory, Natasha Sitsky in third. Sadly, a touch of handlebars over the finish line saw several riders coming down hard, with Ben Williams in particular demonstrating the importance of a quality lid taking a knock to the head (after being checked out at hospital Ben fortunately received the all clear). We wish Ben a speedy recovery and hope to see him back at crits in the near future, continuing his outstanding progress to the pointy end of D grade.
The finishing straight carnage of D grade did nothing to damper the enthusiasm in C as the Dominator, Dan Joller, and Trent Smyth sought to establish an early break. While his companions thought better of it and were swept up by the bunch, Trent decided to solo on alone putting in the ride of the night and staying away for much of the race. Sam Moffitt’s hard work chasing, supported by Ed Meeuwissen, Ben McCarthy, and Lauren Thomas, eventually brought it all back together with two laps remaining. The efforts to catch Trent having dulled the legs, nobody was game to try another big move, ‘Those Guys’ in pink gradually winding up the sprint train like a well drilled unit. Nathan Edwardson kicked it off on the bell before Trent decided he hadn’t done enough for the night and took over down the back straight. Put into the wind through collarbone, Dean Rogers pushed hard but couldn’t quite out drag Ben McCarthy down the home straight, who won by the narrowest of margins. Brother Pete made it a ‘two, three’ for the Rogers clan while Lauren Thomas was a deserving winner for the women having made a huge contribution to the chase. Lauren Bates and Tassie Davies finished a little further down in second and third.
B grade was orderly early before Riley Smithers attacked down the home straight. Ella Bloor was attentive and quick to chase the move down, Tristan Ward then countering with a big effort of his own. Liam O’Dea, who looked solid throughout, Stu Griffith, Jono Hazell, Josh Bilski and Em Viotto were all aggressive early on. But the windy conditions were proving a challenge and the surging efforts caught several riders out with more than usual abandoning. The next quartet to try their luck featured Steve Blackburn, Em, Rainer W, and Josh B, stringing the bunch out coming into collarbone. Disorganised, the bunch splintered once the leaders were caught affording Ranier and Em a chance to sneak away a second time. They were soon joined by Nick Stewart and Sean Murphy and the rest, as they say, was history. The four up front worked well sharing the load, while back in the bunch, the Cartel riders having picked up a few things from the Tiffen boys managed to place themselves near the head of the chase just enough to take the sting out of it. Despite a huge attack from Matthew Meisel-Dennis, the leaders were dialled in for the sprint, which Rainer, ever the gentleman, decided to progressively wind up with half a lap to go and lead his rivals into the home straight. So it was that Sean Murphy made an immediate impact in what we understand to have been his first ever crit, taking a great win from Nick Stewart. Em meanwhile topped off an outstanding ride fishing first for the women and forth overall, Ella B and Lucy Fityus coming in second and third with the chasing bunch.
Dylan Hopkins was keen to take advantage of the conditions in A grade getting away early before Makka, Trekky, and Sean Whitfield rode across. As they were reeled in by the chasers, Makka and Trekky went again, Fintan Conway off in pursuit. The chase bunch quickly disintegrated, as odds and sods looked to ride across, a lead group of eleven eventually forming up front: Oscar Chamberlain, Ben Hill, Trekky, Kris McCreath, Ben Morrison, Makka, Nick Wilson, Cam Rogers, Fintan, Sean, and Toby Stewart. Efforts by Ben H and Trekky to get away were immediately shut down, Cam riding strongly to neutralise the major threats. As the laps ticked on and the pace intensified, eleven became eight, Makka and Oscar working together to try and work over Trekky and Sean. On the bell, it was Fintan on the front, Cam and Sean rubbing shoulders in the fight for position. Toby Stewart took over the lead into collarbone before Ben Hill decided to go long, looking to take his fifth win of the season. But it wasn’t to be as Sean came round him with a perfectly timed sprint and well-deserved victory for Olivers Racing, Ben taking second and Cam third.
E grade were left to wrap up proceedings, Oliver Grande pulling throughout with notable appearances on the front by Jim Mungoven and Sonja Falez. Opting for safety in numbers, the bunch stayed together as the clocked tick down before Angus Shepard led out a fast sprint to claim victory over Jim M and Oliver G. Sonja Falez meanwhile claimed victory for E grade with Simon Pollack second and Vivian Shea third.
Lastly, a special welcome Mustafa Rasooli who recently arrived in Canberra together with his family after what we can only imagine has been an incredibly difficult journey, forced to flee Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover. Mustafa was among Afghanistan’s best cyclists and his enthusiasm was on show Wednesday when, despite all of five minutes notice and no training over the past months, he didn’t blink when offered the chance to race, jumping on his bike and getting stuck into C grade. While we hope that Mustafa will once again be able to contribute to the growth of cycling in Afghanistan, we are only too pleased to welcome him into our club in the meantime and look forward to getting to know him better over the coming months.