Author Brad Peppink | Photo Credit Ian Hutchings
16 November 2022
Arm warmers or not, was the pressing question confronting most riders as temperatures plummeted yet again for Round 5.
The Junior HC(A) was another hard-fought affair with multiple attacks as Hugo Williams, Annika Astridge, and Archer Peppinck all sort to gain an advantage. Wary after last weeks escape, the bunch were having none of it with no one able to gain an advantage. Impressively, Barney Mungoven and Quinn Peppinck managed to jump on the back of the scratch riders who made the catch with two laps to go. Into collarbone for the last time, Archer snuck in front of Annika into the home straight and held his lead all the way to line making it two wins in a row, Annika in second and Hugo in third. Reyan Rathi led from start to finish in the Junior HC(B) to chalk up another victory and add to his credentials for promotion to the ‘big lap’.
A Grade was a cracker with Trekky and Oscar Chamberlain signalling their intentions early attacking from the whistle. Tom Chester and Macca were next to try their luck but were similarly kept on a tight leash. Steve Crispin was prominent throughout helping to bring some order to the chase and keep it all together, Ben Morrison also contributing to the pace making. Oscar and Dylan Hopkins, on the other hand, were repeat offenders in upending the relative order but couldn’t drive the decisive break, Ayden Toovey always alert to the potential threat and bridging across where it suited. Down to the bell and a sprint looked all but certain to separate the 12 riders left in contention, before Dylan H rolled the dice one last time with a huge dig down the back straight, quickly establishing a handy gap but fading as he rounded the final bend. In the bunch kick that followed, Ben Hill emerged fastest by half a wheel from series leader, Ayden T, Tom C holding on for third. Kudos also goes to Stuart Griffiths who after being bumped up to A Grade for the start of the season rode a crafty race to secure fifth place.
D Grade was a battle for the ages, literally as the junior contingent of Jordan Mirchevski, Luke Rodgers, and Oliver Grande looked to streak off the front ahead of the senior contingent being led by the likes of Darren Stevens and Chris Withington. All back together, Max Neve was next to try his luck, Luke R again surfing the wheels, a theme that played out repeatedly throughout the race. Attack and counterattack, the still conditions were playing into the hands of the chasers as no one was able to go clear. Undaunted, Jordan M burnt his final match with two laps to go, erstwhile co-conspirator Luke R turning policeman as he rode Jordan down to ensure a bunch sprint. In the end, and in a nod to tactics over tenacity, Chris Withington emerged victorious with a powerful sprint to the line, Danny Chak in second and Ronan Kovacevic in third. Luke R finished a notable 5th having animated proceedings much to the delight of the spectators, less so his mother Rae who held on bravely among the chasing bunch. For the women, Bronte Cliford was at the sharp end of the bunch kick to secure first place a bike length in front of Natasha Sitsky followed closely by Sonja Falez.
Cementing its reputation as the grade most likely to finish with a bunch kick, C Grade once again stuck to the script as the still conditions deterred opportunists and the fast men and women bided their time to the bell lap. Sam Moffit launched a commendable attack off the front on the bell and for a moment looked like he may have the legs to stay clear, before hopes of a solo victory were dashed into collarbone, Lachlan Skinner railing his bike onto the home straight and muscling his way to victory. Dan Joller showed his consistency with a hard fought second place half a wheel clear of Angus Withington, while in the women’s race, Kate Vandenberg edged out Kim Pederson, with Inez Cashman a bike length further back.
Not to be outdone in terms of relative predictability, and with the wind dropping even further, the B Grade contingent paid homage to brains over flamboyance as most riders looked to sit in the wheels and hone their legs for the finish. Benefiting from the fine work of diesel engines Seb Muller and triathlete Rory Thornhill, seen running several laps at the conclusion of the race – yes, on foot – and leaving spectators wondering whether he had really emptied the tank… the pace was consistently high. Josie Pepper was also prominent, not least because of her fluro yellow bike but also her turn of pace on the front, stringing the bunch out behind. With most riders still in contention on the bell, the ranks surged into collarbone necessitating some sharp elbows and steely nerves. Into the home straight, James Thorp, who never strayed far from the front all race, lit it up but it was a flying Matt Corby who gave Cartel a win for the night with a perfectly executed finish, James holding on for second with Hayden Stevens in third. Josie meanwhile was rewarded for her efforts with a narrow win over Claudia Marcks for the women.
With ‘summer’ fast approaching, here’s hoping the weather system gets the memo and track temperatures pick up for Round 6. Thanks again to all involved in volunteering, officiating, and organising underscoring the ‘many hands, light work’ philosophy that has helped drive the success of CCC Summer Criteriums.