Author Brad Peppinck
The penultimate round of CCC crits got started with very welcome clear skies, although a strong headwind down the home straight made for challenging racing.
The Junior HC saw Quinn Peppinck pushing hard solo to maintain his early lead, Shrey Rathi having been ‘promoted’ backwards in the handicap after several strong results. Robbed of a breakaway companion, however, both Quinn and Shrey battled alone into the headwind, while limit riders Hugo Williams, Annika Astridge, Martin Grande and Archer Peppinck combined well to reel in the leaders with a lap to go. Annika having driven the pace up front for much of the race was repaid for her selfless contributions by a surprise attack from Archer into the back straight, who made the most of the tailwind to hold his lead into the final corner. Despite being pushed hard by Hugo all the way to the line, Archer had enough gas in the tank to hold on for the win, Annika a deserving third.
C Grade saw Ben Healy setting tempo early on with Simon Porombka also contributing to the pace. Whether neutralised through the hard riding on the front or the difficult conditions down the home straight, no attacks were able to stick. With one lap to go, Those Guys in pink could be seen hatching a plan, Heath Chester shortly thereafter rocketing to the front only to pass the baton to Nathan Edwardson coming out of collarbone who quickly established a lead of a few bike lengths. But as Nathan hit the proverbial wall that was blowing down the home straight, he was rounded up by the fast men, of whom Dan Joller proved the fastest, winning by half a wheel with a perfectly executed throw to the line from Andrew Yates, Wayne Pettett rounding out the podium in third.
B Grade followed a similar pattern with relatively controlled riding, attacks by Stu Griffith, David Parker, and Dave Sitsky failing to come to much as the finishing straight headwind extracted a high price from any would be breakaway attackers, not helped by the engine that is Trent Smyth shutting down anything that looked remotely threatening. Lauren Thomas was well positioned throughout, closing gaps and keeping things together, and with half a lap remaining, the race was yet to split apart. Into the final bend, Rainer Wilton looked to lead out his Cartel teammates with a huge pull, a tactic that would have paid dividends but for Josh Bilski having cleverly infiltrated the train and coming out of Rainer’s wheel to unleash a powerful sprint to the line, Stu Griffith and Matt Corby claiming the minor placings.
Showcasing the gap that there is to A grade, the big hitters had little difficulty splitting things up in the difficult conditions, Trekky and Tom Chester active early on, Oscar Chamberlain always attentive to a potential opportunity. As it was, the cream of the CCC crop rolled off the front two-by-two, eventually forming an elite six-man breakaway comprising Trekky, Tom, Oscar, Ayden Toovey, Torben Partridge-Madsen, and Reece Tucknott. Despite a strong chase led by Nick Wilson and Steve Crispin, the winner was always going to come from the lads up front, leaving the spectators to furiously debate the probability of a long-range wind up from Trekky, a beast-mode sprint from Tom, or some other permutation. They didn’t have to wait long as Torben lit the jets through collarbone with a massive push down the home straight and for a minute, looked to have established a potential race winning margin. But it wasn’t to be as Ayden and Oscar led the chase back before Tom came out of the slipstream and the aforementioned beast mode scenario played out on the line, Oscar grabbing second by a tyre width from Ayden.
The combined E Grade / Junior Whites bunch rode solidly with Will Astridge and Emily Watch never far from the head of affairs and Rae Rodgers closely monitoring the action. Into the bell lap, Will pushed the pace but in the end, no one had any answers for a flying Emily W who held her nerve to take an impressive long-range sprint, Hannah Pettett coming home second with a third place too close to call between Rae and Oliver Grande.
D Grade’s Radi Kovacevic was on the attack early but couldn’t get away, Darren Stevens making short work of the chase back. Nicholas Jeffries and James Patterson were next to try, as Adam Barneveld looked to animate the bunch in response alongside Chris Withington. After a few more antics, and seemingly inspired by A grade, a six-man breakaway emerged comprising Oliver Pearcey, Bill Shelly, Chris W, Adam B, Nicholas J and James P, Ronan Kovacevic riding hard on the front of the chasing bunch to try and limit the damage. But the six out front were having none of it, setting a strong tempo to stay well clear of the chasers and setting up an exciting finish. So it was that Nicholas J emerged the fastest, edging out James Patterson and Bill Shelly by the narrowest of margins.
Once again, sincere thanks to the volunteers who make crit racing possible, especially our amazing commissaires who devote their considerable time and experience week after week. As we come to the end of what has been a fantastic season, the CCC committee extends a special request to all the members out there who may be able to volunteer in the weeks and months ahead as we look to bring you a challenging road season with a variety of different courses, disciplines, and races for everyone. Double points being on offer for the last round of the season, we hope to see a big turnout for the final round of crits as all and sundry look to sure up their positions in the overall point scores across the various grades and teams.