Author Brad Peppink
The weather gods smiled on the CCC crits yet again as the last of the heavy rain cleared with just moments to spare before the Junior HC rolled away, leaving a smaller than usual field to contend with the odd puddle or two and some rather complacent ducks basking out on the track. In what was effectively a two-man time trial, Hugo Williams and Archer Peppinck combined well to reel in Shrey Rathi and Quinn Peppinck, before Hugo Jumped clear down the back straight and held his speed round the final bend to take the win from Archer. Shrey continued to go from strength to strength almost holding the wheels of the fast-finishing limit riders to grab a well-deserved third place.
As A grade rolled away and CCS looked to make things hard from the start, the ducks had precious little time to reflect on their erstwhile indifference to passing cyclists, evidently deciding the smart move was to get the hell out of dodge and relocate to the relative safety of the cross-country track. With repeat attacks from the likes of Oscar Chamberlain, Trekky, Ben Hill, Tom Chester and Dylan Hopkins, those left strung out in the bunch could have been forgiven for also looking wistfully across to the safety of the cross-country track, before CCS came to the fore to exert some control courtesy of a sacrificial team ride by Ben Morrison with Nick Wilson also contributing to the chase. With two minutes to go and the bunch seemingly resigned to a sprint finish, Tom C ripped up the playbook going clear with Oscar. Despite a strong chase from Trekky, it was left to the duo up front to duke it out, Tom getting the better of Oscar with his trademark drag race to the line. Ben Hill was the best of the rest leading home the remaining bunch for third.
E grade seemed content to roll turns with several of the Junior Whites notably well positioned and looking to contribute. As they rounded the final bend, they were lined out right across the track with Hannah Pettit just getting the win ahead of Simon Pollak.
Kim Pederson was aggressive early on in Round Six of the Women’s Series but couldn’t make her attacks stick, Giant Racing’s Em Viotto policing the break. Meanwhile in the C/D race, Natash Sitsky and Vanessa Judge were making life difficult setting a solid temp on the front. As the two grades came together around the halfway mark, some confusion ensued with respective bunches fraying and opportunists looking to get away. Lauren Thomas and Lauren Bates attacked hard before Em bridged across to give Giant Racing the tactical advantage of having two riders in the leading group. A concerted chase by Gracie Elvin looked certain to succeed before the trio upfront decided a two time Australian champion may not make for the best company and upped the pace accordingly. As Lauren Thomas looked to set Em up for the win, Lauren Bates had other ideas going long down the home straight and forcing Em to come round her on the line with a desperate throw for victory. Even with the assistance of a video replay, determining who edged out who was next to impossible, Em graciously suggesting it went to Lauren while the spectators were content to call it draw. Katelyn Twiss took the win in Women’s C/D with Natash Sitsky a close second and Vanessa Judge in third.
C Grade kicked off with an early break comprising Sam Moffitt, Heath Chester, and Rod Bates but was short lived as Ed Meeuswissen led the chase back. Nathan Edwardson was next to try and get a gap dragging a few other riders with him but wasn’t given much rope, the peloton again closing things down. Not for want of trying and after a few further unsuccessful breakaways, the bunch were all together with two laps remaining. As Those Guys were starting to pull together their impressive lead out train, Andy Gordon launched a surprise attack and was still several bike lengths clear on the bell. But it wasn’t to be as the fast-charging bunch caught Andy down the home straight and in the ensuing fight for position round the final bend, it was Ed Meeuwissen who got the better of Rod Bates and stayed clear in the dash for the line, Dan Joller coming home in third.
B Grade brought the curtain down on the nights racing, the pace holding steady through the opening few laps. Early efforts by the likes of Mick Tollhurst, Hayden Stevens and Stu Griffiths failed to break the elastic as Tiffen and Cartel drew on their resources to make sure they didn’t miss out on representation up the road. Midway through, Matt Corby, who only moments before had declared that his legs were tired and he was just ‘going to sit in’, attacked off the front through collarbone prompting those behind to question whether they had been getting the concept of ‘sitting in’ wrong all these years. In what was no doubt the ride of the night, Matt soloed clear as strong efforts to bring him back by Mick T, Stephen Blackburn, and Dave Sitsky were effectively disrupted by Matt’s Cartel teammates behind. On the bell, however, it was clear that the fairy tale ending wasn’t going to be as the bunch mowed down the solo protagonist through collarbone, David Parker getting the green light to drill it on the front before handing the baton to Rainer Wilton in a well-choreographed piece of riding. Josh Bilski had other ideas, however, hijacking the Cartel train and holding his nerve through the final bend before unleashing a huge sprint to take victory just in front of Declan Prosser who was duly rewarded for some savvy positioning throughout the night, Stu G holding on for third.
With the forecasts predicting up to 40mm for Round 20, it looks like CCC’s luck may well run out and we’ll be in for our first properly wet race of the year and the reappearance of the ducks. With just three rounds remaining, that’s likely to make life interesting, particularly in the very tight race for the overall team trophy. Once again, sincere thanks to the volunteers who make the racing possible; from registration to timing, first aid to managing the finishing chute, crits can only take place when volunteers give generously of their time. As we look forward to the beginning of the road series, can we take this opportunity to encourage people to get involved in volunteering – not only will you be earning a discount on future races and potentially even exclusive CCC kit, you’ll be helping to sustain the great momentum that has been built up over this crit season and by spreading the load, ensuring we can continue delivering quality racing for years to come.