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Crits Round 9 Race Report

Images courtesy Flynn Hopkins (the.athlete.collection)

Author Brad Peppinck

The weather gods again smiled on the CCC crits as the promised thunderstorm failed to materialise.

In the traditional curtain raiser, the Junior HC, attacking riding across the age groups brought seven riders together on the bell. Newcomer Liam Rogers made an immediate impact, making up a huge gap to leaders and then attacking solo. But it wasn’t to be as the ‘mini-galacticos’ of the Junior HC, Hugo Williams, Archer Peppinck, and Annika Astridge caught Liam down the back straight, again fighting it out to the line. Hugo took the win he’s been threatening all season, with Archer second after a somewhat unorthodox mechanical (a theme that would emerge throughout the night) involving a lost tooth, carefully deposited at the marshalling area before continuing, Annika coming home third.

C grade saw the Dominator and Ed Meeuswissen on the front early before Ben McCarthy and Nathan Edwardson managed to get a gap. Sensing it wasn’t to be, Nathan dropped back while Ben soldiered on for a lap or two before being chased down, largely courtesy of Lauren Thomas’s efforts at the head of affairs. Into the wind, Andy Gordon shot out followed by Dennis Mungoven before Heath Chester surged down the back straight to dash their hopes of a breakaway. Wayne Pettett went next before Andy G turnedfrom attacker to chaser, Lauren Thomas also being called on again to assist. After several further attacks by ‘Those Guys’ (and probably several others but hey, let’s face it, riding in neon pink tends to capture the headlines…), Sam Moffitt rode strongly away before being joined by Nathan Edwardson. As Sam furiously waved the elbow, Nathan clearly riding to team orders offered a very dubious apology and remained firmly ensconced on Sam’s wheel. Sam pressed on regardless and did a good job to open the gap, as Scott Bird bridged across. As the trio up front faded and were about to be caught, Nath decided it was time to start riding, soloing clear to inflict a bit more pain on the chase before being brought back. As the bell sounded, with Angus Steadman and Eddie Mungoven up the road, Dean Rogers turned back the clock and single handed dragged it all back together to set up the sprint. Not to be outdone, brother Pete Rogers was first into the finishing straight but as he looked desperately for designated team sprinter, Heath Chester – who was held up (and did well to hold it up) after another rider struck their pedal – he was overtaken by a fast-finishing Alex Grzeskowiak who snuck his wheel in front of Ben McCarthy for first, Pete rolling in for third. For the Women, Lauren Thomas topped off an outstanding ride crossing in first with Margaux Jacquet second and Kaitlin McGuire third.

After the excitement of C grade, B grade was a more predictable story, otherwise known as the Hayden Stevens show. After an early attack together with Jono Hazell, Marc Vroomens, and Aiden Hill had been brought back, Hayden went again followed shortly thereafter by Thomas Wood, Mick Tolhurst, and Liam O’Dea, who did well to bridge down the home straight. Despite a solid if not slightly erratic chase, with cameos from Dave Sitsky, Matt Corby, Ross Goggin, Ed Marcks, and Em Viotto, the bunch never looked seriously in the hunt as the four up front team time-trialled off into the distance, ably assisted by Steve Blackburn who turned teammate extraordinaire by expertly disrupting the chase. With the bunch all but capitulating, interest turned to how the three seniors would distance the solo junior. As Thomas Wood struck out early, Hayden patiently followed before rounding him up and heading for home. Mick T was similarly patient on Hayden’s wheel although seemingly less by choice as Hayden racked up his third win of the season and left the B grade bunch ruing the age limit restrictions that would otherwise prevent Hayden being pushed up to A grade. Em Viotto meanwhile was rewarded for her attacking riding with a first place for the women over Ella Bloor, with Kim Pederson in third.

Serial attacker Makka Edwardson was enthusiastic early before being joined by Toby Stewart and Sean Whitfield. As the trio established a decent gap, the bunch seemed content to let them dangle confident they could bring them back with the wind picking up. Steve Crispin was notable working early, as CCS and Olivers adopted a low profile, both with riders away up front. After several laps of ‘calm’ – a relative concept in A grade – Ben Hill and Trekky got involved. No sooner had they done so, than several very large Kangaroos appeared, adding to the tension and showcasing the importance of good communication within the bunch. All safely back together, always aggressive Fintan Conway struck out solo but couldn’t get away, leaving Karl Michelin-Beard to try next with similar results. Ben Hill looking to set a good example then decided to illustrate how it’s done, attacking hard with Fintan on his wheel and getting a decent gap in the process. Adam Nelson tried hard to bridge but couldn’t make it, as the bunch looked to Trekky, Kris McCreath and Harry Jones to chase. With two laps remaining, Fintan and Ben were well up the road with seemingly little to get in their way, when another wayward kangaroo decided to make an appearance. After hopping past several large gaps in the fence and proving they didn’t make it onto the coat of arms for their brains, skippy eventually found a way out, leaving the crowd to breathe a sigh of relief with everyone still upright. Fintan attacked hard down the home straight but Ben, seemingly never having been taught not to play with his food, rounded him up on the line with a wry smile to show for it as he notched up victory number four of the season and added to his commanding lead in the points tally.  

E grade stayed together early with Matt Millikin shouldering the lion’s share of the work on the front. While there were a few surges, no one was able to get clear as Matt, ably assisted by Will Astridge and Carly Weiss-Kelly kept the pace high. Mid-way through the race, Jim Mungoven looked to sneak off the front but Luke Rogers had the move covered, Bonnie Young also looking strong and well positioned. An inopportune dropped chain for Will A required a lap out, but after a big effort, he made it back into the hard charging bunch. As the bell sounded, Matt M was playing the role of the pied-piper with several juniors strung out behind. In the end, Matt hung on for another strong win and likely promotion, with Bonnie Young in second and Simon Pollak third, while Luke Rogers cleaned up the Junior Whites from Jim Mungoven and Will. 

D grade had the honours of bringing the curtain down on another great night of racing, with Peter Coll prominent early on and the bunch content to follow. Darren Stevens eventually upset the rhythm with a solid attack down the back straight, Sanford Beggs chasing hard to bring him back, helped along by Ian Johnstone. Taking a page out of his son’s book, no sooner was he brought back than Darren was off again, Cam Maciver and Natasha Sitsky well positioned as the bunch chased back. Continuing the theme of taking a page out of said offspring’s book, John Astridge took a page out of Will’s book with a mechanical for a poorly indexed rear derailleur. After the lightest of touches to the barrel adjuster, John was back in the bunch but whatever advantage was to be gained by the lap out was quickly passed up as John opted for a standing start and watching as the bunch sped by, prompting a Herculean effort and furious chase to get back on with just two laps remaining. As the bunch was strung out down the back straight, and clearly inspired by the earlier antics of the kangaroos, a family of ducks decided it was an opportune time for a post-dinner stroll across the track, forcing Josh Walker to deviate from his line and earning the RSPCA award in the process. Ducks and derailleurs done with, it was down to business as the bunch rounded the final corner together. In the furious gallop to the line, and after much ‘constructive advice’ from the Trek supporters club on the sidelines, it was Stuart Nicholls who held his hands aloft as he crossed the line first before gesturing to his supporters in what we can only assume was sign of gratitude for all the ‘well-intentioned encouragement’ he’d been receiving throughout. Sandford took second from Adam Barneveld, while Natash Sitsky was rewarded for riding up front throughout with first for the women, ahead of Sophie Chapman and Amy Betts.

Well done to riders and nature lovers alike for a great night of racing!