Author Brad Peppinck
Warm and windy conditions greeted the riders for Round 13 of Crits although with many riders still away on holidays or down in Ballarat for the Road Nationals, numbers were still down on the highs of December.
In the Junior HC, scratch riders Martin Grande and Archer Peppinck combined well in pursuit of the leading duo of Quinn Peppinck and Barney Mungoven, who started with half lap lead. In the end, it was the CORC riders excelling with Martin getting away from Archer on the bell lap, riding strongly to reel in Barney and Quinn down the back straight for a well-earned victory. Barney, going from strength-to-strength, held on for a close second while Quinn managed to edge out his hard charging older brother for third.
Round four of the hugely popular Women’s Series kicked off next with Em Viotto attacking early, evidently keen to get in a hard race before heading to Ballarat later in the week. Jen Darmody was attentive in neutralising Em’s early moves, with Bec McConnell also putting in several attempts to get away solo. With the bunch strung out in single file after an attack from Lauren Bates, Bec looked to slingshot past getting a decent gap, before Em and Jen bridged across to the leader. Jordyne Rautner and Lauren were next to bridge establishing a powerful five rider breakaway that would ultimately decide the race. Attacks and counterattacks ensued as Canberra’s best female cyclists looked to gain an advantage, the pace surging continually before the cat and mouse tactics returned as the leaders regrouped. On the bell lap and with the peloton fast gaining ground, Bec put in a stinging attack down the home straight but was marked by the ever-attentive Em Viotto who looked strong throughout the night, clearly peaking at just the right time. Em rounded up Bec through collarbone and entered the home straight leading by a bike length, a margin she would comfortably hold across the finish line. Bec came home in second with Jen in third. In Women’s C/D, Natasha Sitsky edged out Sonja Falex and Bonnie Young.
After a temporary pause with E grade not starting owing to reduced numbers, D grade got racing underway again. Darren Stevens played his usual role of animator-in-chief as he struck out solo early on but the bunch was having none of it and worked well together to slowly reel him back in, Luke Phillips and James Patterson leading the chase and spending much of the night pace setting on the front. All back together with 4 minutes remaining and riders seemingly resigned to a sprint finish, it was Zeke Findlay who saw an opportunity to attack in the closing stages and quickly built a handy lead giving him time to celebrate as he crossed the line in style. Adam Rohweder came in second and Chris Withington in third.
The largest bunch of the night, C Grade, saw Ed Meeuswissen stringing things out early on, with Sam Moffitt also aggressive in leading the chase. Mid-way through the race, Dennis Mungoven looked to repeat his escapee antics from the week prior (and sincere apologies to Denis for having mis-credited this effort in last week’s race report!), getting away with the Dominator. But it wasn’t to be as the bunch, sensing the danger, combined to bring the pair back with four minutes left on the clock. Far from done for the night, however, it was a hard charging Dominator (The) who again struck out solo with two laps remaining, quickly gaining a handful of seconds on the chasers. Despite being willed on by the crowd, Dominator was caught on collarbone, metaphorically (and almost literally) deploying the anchor as his superhuman effort came to bite. No time for sentimentality, the bunch charged into the home straight with Rod Bates muscling his way to victory by a wheel length from Sam Playford and Stuart Nicholls.
B Grade rounded out the night and the pace was kept high from the get go. Early attacks from Mick Tolhurst, Thomas Wood and Stu Griffiths were quickly neutralised by the watchful bunch with no one being given much leeway to attack. Sensing the bunch was in no mood for a breakaway, Team Tiffen decided to make the race as hard as possible instead, presumably intent on blunting the legs of the noted sprinters. Between Mick T, Steve Blackburn, and Ben Carmody, lashings of pain were dished up as the bunch was repeatedly strung out down the full length of the straight. Towards the closing stages, Nick Stewart looked to capitalise on the hard work of his teammates but was closely marked by Cartel’s Rainer Wilton and given no quarter. With 2 laps to go, the Cartel train came to the front but as it happened, it turned out to be a half a lap too soon. Stu Griffiths, having been placed into the wind on collarbone, was wrapped up as the leaders rounded the final corner, Declan Prosser timing his effort to perfection with a powerful sprint and well-deserved win. Ben Henderson came home in second, half a wheel ahead of Mick Tolhurst in third.
Another great night of racing and as we reach the mid-way point in the season, still plenty to play for across all the grades with some tight contests in the overall point scores. Look forward to seeing you all again next week and to seeing the ranks swelling with the odd Australian national road champion and podium finisher or two!