Photo Credit Ryan Hall | Author Brad Peppinck
Nerves were running high for Round 17 of the Summer Crits with difficult wind conditions virtually guaranteeing a hard-fought night in the gutter for most and perhaps even an early end to proceedings for some.
The Junior HC saw Lachlan Copeland ride a superb race from start to finish to defend his slender lead from the chasing scratch riders and post his first win for CCC. Starting half a lap behind Lachie, Quinn Peppinck also rode his heart out and made it to within sniffing distance of the lead but couldn’t quite quote close the gap. Among the scratch riders meanwhile, Hugo Williams and Archer Peppinck combined smart tactical riding and punchy attacks to get away down the back straight but had to settle for the minor places with Archer just edging out Hugo by half a wheel. George Williams, too, had a great night finishing in fourth after spinning nicely on the pedals all race.
After lapping D Grade the week prior, Dave Watts looked intent on repeating that performance in C surging clear in the early stages of the race. Under strict instructions from the handicapper to get some time and experience among other riders, however, Dave dutifully thought better of the move and graciously waited to be joined by erstwhile opportunists Blake Wooster and Rod McGee. Despite a solid chase led by Atticus Nowlan-Crisp, group cohesion shattered in the blustery conditions leaving a mish mash of riders in the wake of the trio up front. Andrew Chamberlain was again prominent among the chase, as was Heath Chester, but the Watt bike up ahead was simply too powerful. Having complied with the handicappers’ orders for the majority of the race, Dave once again hit the afterburners with two laps remaining, jettisoning his companions with all the sentimentality of spent up booster rockets. Dave coasted across the line seemingly moments later while Blake Wooster finished hard to hold a slight gap over Rod McGee who came home in third.
Round 8 of the Women’s Series was once again a battle of attrition from the start with the pace among the A/B Group in particular kept high by the likes of Kim Pederson and Josie Pepper. But it was Lauren Bartsch who fired the first shot in earnest with 18 minutes remaining, although the move was closely tracked and brought under control by Kim. Further attacks couldn’t land the killer blow and in the tricky conditions, nobody was being given an opportunity to dash off up the road. With two laps remaining, Inez Cashman put in a solid dig before Kim P once again tried her luck diving into collarbone for the final time. Pushing into the wind, however, the long-range sprint proved too much for Kim as Claudia Marcks timed her run to perfection accelerating hard onto the home straight and sprinting beautifully to take a comfortable victory. Josie P held on for a close second with Lauren Bates rounding out the podium. In the Women’s C/D race, four riders established a winning move early on and combined well to hold their advantage to the finish. In the end, it was Talia Chambers who proved the fastest, coming home ahead of Roslyn Harper with Darcy Henwood in third.
A Grade was brutal early on with several riders reflecting afterwards on the race having produced some of their best numbers of the season. But despite shredding the field, the very sharp end was still relatively intact after the opening salvos, before Tom Chester took off on the first of what would turn out to be several attacks for the night, Reece Tucknott attentive in jumping swiftly onto the rapidly advancing wheel. No sooner had the duo been brought back than Tom was off again, this time with Trekky for company. In response, Ayden Toovey was prominent in driving the chase with Nick Wilson and Steve Crispin also unafraid to shoulder the burden. Feeling the effort from earlier attacks, Tom popped a few minutes later as Trekky pushed on solo, before Macca Edwardson put in an outstanding ride to bridge what looked unbridgeable. Not for want of having spent the matches, however, the fire went out for the escapists up front and all was back together with ten minutes left on the clock. Down to two laps remaining, and with the pace slowing ever so slightly as the bunch entered the home straight and started rubber necking, Dylan Hopkins emerged in a blur of black and yellow, quickly building a fifty-meter lead as those behind looked to each other to take up the chase. As the bell sounded, Dylan was still fully committed and an odds-on bet to take an improbable victory, but driving into collarbone for the last time, the wind took its toll as his bid for solo glory was cut unceremoniously short. As the spectators waited to see which of the fast men would emerge onto the home straight in a position to battle it out for the win, Trekky – ‘I’m not a sprinter’ – railed through the final corner before unequivocally sprinting to an emphatic victory, a bike length ahead of CCS’s Ben Hill and Macca Edwardson.
Left to bring the curtain down and with light fading, D Grade didn’t waste any time in driving the pace as the peloton started to splinter early. With many riders on their limit, the D Grade hitters in the form of Darren Stevens, Ben Williams, Nathan Monks, and Douglas Wynn rolled off the front and began the process of time trialling their way well clear of the chase. Only a brave Will Astridge was undaunted in giving chase, continuing to do so until the very end. In the sprint that ensued, Nathan M got the better of Darren, Douglass being left to round out the podium.
As the season draws towards a close, the battle for points continues to rage across virtually all grades, even if the maths is getting somewhat improbable for some. Shorter races are inevitably a recipe for exciting racing so looking forward to seeing everyone backing up again for Round 18. With warm, still conditions forecast for Wednesday, no reason not to get amongst it try your luck once again so look forward to seeing you all there.