Author Brad Peppinck | Photo Credit Lindsay Cameron
23 November 2022
If not fully committing to an appearance, Summer at least gave a tantalising glimpse of what may come with calm and relatively warm conditions greeting riders for Round 6 of the CCC Summer Criteriums.
The Junior HC was another entertaining race with constant surges stringing things out and testing the little legs. Reyan Rathi, starting a lap up, rode well for his first outing in the Junior HC(A) but couldn’t hold off the scratch riders. Archer Peppinck was once again eager to go solo with an outrageous attack on the opening lap. Wise to the threat, however, Annika Astridge, Martin Grande, and Hugo Williams all combined to shut it down. Undeterred, Archer went again and again, eventually going clear after his fourth attempt and staying away for a comfortable win. Barney Mungoven rode well linking up with Archer briefly in the closing stages, while Martin Grande proved the quickest of the chasers coming home in second ahead of Hugo Williams.
If the Junior HC was entertaining, the D Grade race was downright enthralling although you could have been forgiven for thinking otherwise with the opening laps raced in a very collegiate manner. Gaz Mills and Nathan Monk rode a solid tempo on the front, with Luke Rodgers, as is custom, hovering near the front. With ten minutes to go, Ronan Kovacevic hit the ‘I’d like a promotion to C Grade’ button jettisoning the bunch and quickly establishing a half lap lead. Motoring along in an aero tuck and looking comfortable, Club legend Nathan Edwardson called it confidently declaring he ‘knows his D Graders’. One can only assume on that basis Nathan was yet to meet Ben Williams who with five minutes to spare, attacked from the chasing bunch and set about reeling Ronan in as the chasers set about doing likewise for Ben. With two laps remaining, it looked a mission impossible for both parties, but willed on by the cheering crowd, Ben dug deep and managed to latch onto Ronan’s wheel as the bell sounded. As the onlookers heatedly debated whether Ben should have attacked immediately upon making the catch or preserve precious strength for the ensuing sprint, Ben resoundingly provided the answer opting for the latter and then streaking ahead of a brave Ronan in the downhill run to the line. An epic win and a testament to risking it all and digging deep. Sophie Chapman came home with the chasers to take a strong victory ahead of Lyn Vasudeva and Hannah Pettit, who were distanced in the closing stages.
After D Grade’s antics, Round Two of the Women’s series had much to live up to. Starting with a similar slow build as the riders looked to gauge the opposition, Kim Pederson kept the pace respectable with some long pulls on the front. Josie Pepper was again prominent with her attacking flair, although ably marked by an attentive Em Viotto and Bec Mcconnell. In the C/D race meanwhile, Sophie Chapman and Hannah Pettit put paid to the relative calm among the bunch attacking around the mid-way point and quickly establishing an irretrievable lead. As the two swapped turns constructively, ahead of them on the track, the attack and parry in the A/B grade race had failed to land a decisive blow. In the end, Lauren Bates proved the fastest with a strong downhill sprint ahead of Claudia Marcks in second and Josie Pepper in third. No sooner had they crossed the line than Natasha Sitsky emerged as the fastest of the Women’s C/D bunch getting the better of erstwhile co-conspirator, Sophie Chapman, with a decisive sprint victory, Hannah Pettit leading the rest home a minute or so behind in third.
Clearly inspired by all this attacking, Rainer Wilton was down in the drops and pulling a big gear before the commissaires had even had a chance to blow their whistle. Absent any other choice, the opening laps were raced at breakneck speed but the bunch wasn’t about to let such an ambitious move out of sight, bringing it all back together in relatively short order. Rory Thornhill, ably abetted by Harry Johnston, once again selflessly volunteered to set an outrageous tempo discouraging attacks and inflicting pain in equal measure. In the closing stages, James Thorp and Zeke Findlay went clear, only for several riders to bridge before Harry Johnston emerged once again on the front with a very wily Steve Blackburn locked on his wheel. Down to the bell and Harry proved his pedigree holding on for a dominant victory, Steve being overhauled in the dying moments by a fast finishing (and just generally fast) Hayden Stevens with Edwards Marcks hitting some good form in third. Bec Mcconnell with barely time to breathe after the preceding race put in a super crafty ride always well positioned, finishing with the chasing bunch to take first for the women, Lauren Bates a little further back in second.
Not to be outdone with all the quality riding that preceded them, A grade started with a bang as Macca Edwardson and Andy Blair looked to show Rainer W how the sneaky long-range attack was done. Indicative of the challenge involved, however, it ended with similar results to the B Grade experiment as they were swiftly brought under control, Trekky once again tapping into beast mode with several sharp accelerations ripping the bunch apart. What emerged shortly thereafter were two distinct groups of half a dozen riders each, with notable appearances by Nick Wilson and Steve Crispin in the lead bunch along with usual suspects Tom Chester, Ayden Hill, Trekky, Reece Tucknott, and Dylan Hopkins. Rolling turns, it was clear the race was on up front despite a big effort from Oscar Chamberlain and co in the chase. Sadly, having started with a bang, for several of our best riders, it ended with a bang too as a pedal strike brought down several riders in the closing stages, adding to the illustrious victim tally of collarbone corner. Ben Hill and Joel Findlay came off worst of all, but both bravely got themselves back to the start line under their own steam and will doubtless be back on deck in the near future. Meanwhile, Steve Crispin confident in his sprinter’s pedigree launched a brazen attack down the back straight on the bell, but couldn’t keep a merciless Tom Chester at bay as he muscled his way to victory a half-wheel length in front of Ayden, Trekky in third. Someway further back, Oscar Chamberlain and Harry Jones put on an entertaining sprint for bragging rights in eighth and ninth, while Matt Darling rode well to nab his first top ten of the season.
The spectators were once again duly rewarded for the price of admission, although the crash in A Grade couldn’t help but dampen what was an otherwise great night of racing. As we wish all of those who lost bark a speedy recovery, we have no doubt the racing will return undiminished for Round 7. Look forward to seeing you all there.