Author Brad Peppinck | Photo Credit Lindsay Cameron
Subscribing to the philosophy of better late than never, Spring finally sprung on the last day of the season with perfect conditions greeting riders for Round 7 of the CCC Summer Criteriums.
In the Junior HC, just when we were becoming accustomed to watching the scratch riders battle it out for the podium, those starting further up the road decided it was time for a change. Barney Mungoven and Quinn Peppinck were committed from the start, rolling turns like a well drilled unit and encouraging each other all the way. Alex Steele made a big impact in his first race with a solid effort to stay clear, while Reyen Rathi continued to show his determination and potential as he charged along among the bigger kids. As the bell approached, the Quinn and Barney still had much of their half lap lead intact, although some big accelerations by Hugo Williams and Archer Peppinck in the closing stages left little room for complacency. On the bell, without hesitation, Barney got on the front and drilled it sacrificing his own chances to set Quinn up perfectly for a memorable victory and his first for the season. Barney was a deserving second with Annika Astridge still the fastest in a sprint taking third for the chasers. Anyone who doubts cycling is a team sport need look no further than Barney and Quinn’s post-race celebrations and while their engines may still be developing, we’d all do well to take a leaf out of the juniors’ book for sheer sportsmanship and enthusiasm.
D Grade followed a similar script to the week preceding with a Milan-San Remo’esque slow build before an enthralling climax. On this occasion, it was Danny Chak and Chris Withington who went clear with around five minutes to go, quickly establishing a solid margin and swapping turns efficiently. Buoyed by last weeks exploits, Ben Williams looked to prove lightning can indeed strike twice clipping off the chasing bunch in hot pursuit, Peter Coll slyly latching onto Ben’s wheel. As Darren Stevens tried to ignite the chasers, it was anyone’s guess as to whether the winner would be decided from among the first two, four, or even amongst a bunch kick, with various scenarios all possible at two laps to go. In the end, the status quo prevailed with Chris and Danny fighting it out for the win, Chris proving the craftier of the two and coming out of Danny’s slipstream to earn himself both a victory and promotion. A few bike lengths further back, Ben and Peter fought for the minor placing, a throw on the line going Peter’s way by a tyre width. Alison Mungoven was at the sharp end of the chase to grab first for the women ahead of ever consistent Sonja Falez, Bronte Clifford a few bike lengths further behind in third.
Next on the paddock was C Grade with Angus Withington and Kim Pederson prominent early on setting a solid tempo. Andy Gordon was also looking in menacing form never far from the front, but far enough to keep his legs fresh. Angus Withington, perhaps concerned that there was only room for one Withington in the bunch and therefore so minded to earn his own promotion… got the attacking underway in earnest, dragging seven riders clear, Adam Martin and Atticus Nolan-Crisp among the fastest to respond. But a lack of cohesion took the sting out and allowed the chasers to bring it all back together. Further punch and counter punch added to the frayed nerves and fraying bunch, with six riders eventually emerging in what would prove the decisive break of the day. Along with aforementioned earlier protagonists, Angus, Andy, Adam, and AtticusAndrew Chamberlain heard the call of the ‘A’ team and bridged across, with Zac Clever representing the other end of the alphabet a notable inclusion. John Bridge meanwhile hadn’t given up on the chase with a huge effort, but to no avail with the firepower upfront all but guaranteeing a reduced sprint. As the craftier of the ‘A’s – Gordon and Chamberlain – looked to expertly surf the wheels, the strongest of the ‘A’s – Angus – just bludgeoned his way to the front with an elbows out drive of the line making it two wins in a row for clan Withington. Zac held on for second and Adam a close third, while Kim P took out the victory for the women ahead of Amelie Burrell and Lauren Bartsch.
The theme of ‘inspirational dad’ clearly flowing strongly on the night, Oscar Chamberlain stomped on the pedals going clear early on and shredding the bunch before they even made it onto the back straight. The cream of the crop of Canberra road cycling – Oscar, Steve Crispin, Reece Tucknott, Ayden T, Trekky, Dylan Hopkins, Ben Hill, Tom Chester, and Macca were all represented up front while the chasing bunch was stretched out responding half a lap further back. Rolling turns, the nine up front kept things cohesive right up until the bell, although not before Fintan Conway produced the ride of the night driving the chase, bridging across to the leaders and then immediately attacking them. Such heroics deserved a better result but as Fintan railed his bike through collarbone, the engine finally blew, and fast men surged to the front coming onto the home straight. Tom Chester once again proved the fastest in a straight-line contest, just edging out Ben Hill who cemented his Canberra hard-man credentials backing up after hitting the deck last week. Ayden T meanwhile kept his point score lead intact just edging out Macca for third.
With light fading B Grade was kick started by Marc Vroomans attacking from the whistle, Rainer Wilton and Jono Hazell setting off in pursuit. No sooner had the threat been neutralised than Rory Thornhill came to the front to exert some fast-paced relative calm. Both the Tiffin and Cartel squads were ably represented in the various breaks, Mick Tollhurst and Steve Blackburn showing their years of experience by judiciously choosing what to chase and what to let go, while Seb Muller at the opposite end of the spectrum showed his huge potential and huge engine by going with pretty much everything. Emma Viotto meanwhile was enjoying her shift to bigger gearing, riding upfront throughout and closing gaps as quickly as they appeared. With all signs pointing to a bunch sprint once again, the pace was kept high as the bell sounded and a large bunch fought for position down the home straight. A touch of wheels at the top corner, however, brought down Seb M and Ben Mccarthy, splitting the bunch and adding to an already tense finish. Unscathed and well positioned throughout, Hayden Stevens emerged from the chaos to take another great win, ahead of Zeke Findlay and Edward Marcks. And with Eddie Mungoven in forth, it’s not hard to see where the future lies for Canberra’s elite men’s cycling.
With thoughts this week for Seb and Ben, both of whom required a trip to emergency but fortunately not a prolonged stay, and with serious kudos to those who stopped to lend a hand, it’s a timely reminder that while criteriums inevitably bring with them a degree of risk, looking out for each other and keeping things upright should be the order of the day. Having satisfied ourselves that our excellent first aid volunteers are up to the task, let’s do our best to give them a week off and keep things rubber side down as the summer racing heats up this week!