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Summer Criterium #14 Race Report

Image: Ian Hutchings

Round 14 – the Pride Round – of the Summer Crits kicked off with perhaps the most difficult wind
conditions of the season so far. A strong westerly, making its presence felt from the bottom of the
track right through till well into the home straight was sure to prove a major test with splits almost
an inevitability.
In the Junior HC, newcomer Valentin Torres-Schmidt fooled everyone, most notably the
handicapper, and was never seriously challenged in riding away to a maiden victory on debut.
George Williams had to put up more of a fight to keep a charging Lachlan Copeland at bay who
almost managed to reel George in despite starting with a two-lap deficit. In the end, George
managed to hold on setting up what is sure to be an exciting battle in closing stages of the Junior HC
season point score.
The masochists in A Grade were keen to exploit the conditions putting the bunch in the gutter from
the first lap. Karl Michelin-Beard was an early aggressor with several daunting attacks, splintering
the field and forcing several early retirements. Macca Edwardson was next to take up the baton with
his own solo escape, stretching his lead out to the length of the home straight and settling swiftly
into TT mode. With Reece Tucknott driving the chase ably assisted by Hayden Stevens, the tide
gradually turned against Macca, although not before he managed to put in three laps without the
timing board ever registering… though whether a nod to Macca’s freakish power, a warp in the
space-time continuum, or an oversight by our trusty Commissaires grown accustomed to the
electronic clock, who can say. In any event, Macca was back in the fold with 16 minutes remaining
only to see another Blackshaw Racing stalwart, Tom Chester, hit the accelerator. Having worked
hard to chase down Macca, the bunch weren’t about to give Tom as much rope but the mad dash to
weld the race back together saw yet more contenders going out the back. Dylan Hopkins led what
looked to be a threatening quartet going clear down the back straight but Ben Morrison, in terrific
form, was able to pull the chase back into contention. In the brief ensuing calm, Macca and Tom
seized the moment to counter, showing their earlier exertions to be merely a warmup act as the pair
surged clear and set about rolling turns. With five minutes left on the clock, it was clear Blackshaw
Racing would be on the top step with only the order to be decided as Macca and Tom put the
finishing touches on their master class in team tactics. Dylan injected a note of excitement into the
closing stages by gapping Hayden in the race for third, while team orders saw Tom sitting up in the
final run to the line to let Macca take a thoroughly deserving and entertaining victory.
D Grade saw Matthew Beale attacking early and driving the pace before the Fondo Boys rolled to the
front to exert control. As the pace gradually lifted, the big D Grade field saw several splits with three
or four smaller bunches gradually coalescing from the damage being inflicted by the Fondo Boys.
Down to the closing stages and Matthew Beale was keen to book end his night with another attack,
but with Stephen Peter marshalling the chase, he couldn’t get the break to stick. After a huge turn
on the front, it was Will Astridge who looked to gain a surprise march surging clear down the right-
hand side of the track as the bunch took the bell. Undaunted, Stephen burnt his last matches to get
back on even terms with Will before a trio of Fondo Boys rounded the top corner and streaked clear
for a decisive team victory, Ben Bouffler in first ahead of Lachlan Freeth and Daniel Gowling. Chloe
Pragt managed to outsprint Lucy Stewart to take the race for the Women with Hannah Maree a little
further back in third, while Archer Peppinck benefited from Hannah’s hard work to finish ahead of
Zach Thomas and Hugo Williams in the Junior HC.
C Grade
After entertaining us all for many years with her sprinting prowess, Chloe Hosking was keen to show
her versatility attacking early on in C Grade alongside Andy Gordon, barely giving the chasing bunch

time to ratchet their boas or start their Garmins. A strong pull by Andy Yates brought everyone back
on level terms, with Callum Maciver and Kate Vandenberg positioning themselves nicely near the
head of proceedings. Ross Elliott tried his luck down the back straight with 18 minutes remaining but
Chloe was swift to latch on to Ross’s wheel. Luke Rogers was next to strike out solo but with similar
results, Chloe once again marking the attack. After several rounds of splits and regrouping, Pete
Rogers read the race to perfection attacking into the wind as the bunch looked sideways to try and
marshal a response. As Pete threatened to sneak away with it, it was Chloe yet again who took
charge, a neat role-reversal this time seeing Luke R glued to her wheel should the chance to counter
arise. As it was, the bunch took the bell together, Adam Martin and Max Sudholz keeping the pace
high at the front. Out of collarbone for the last time and Alex Gorringe lit the jets with an astonishing
show a pace, surging well clear as the bunch rounded the final bend. Emerging from view, Alex had
lost nothing of his lead powering all the way to the finish line with enough time to sit up and soak it
all in. Ross Elliott won the battle for second just a half-wheel clear of Andy Y, while Kate V got the
better of Zoe Cuthbert for the Women. Chloe rolled across a little further back in third but after
being involved in everything throughout the night and in a sure sign of exciting racing to come.
Left to bring down the curtain, perennial B Grade pace setter, Rory Thornhill, took up his familiar
position on the front and set about ripping some legs off without so much as offering the bunch a
chance to warm up. Trading places with Mitchell Westhuzien and Matt Darling, the trio piled on the
early pressure seeing the bunch shatter more so than splinter, with just 10 riders left in contention
from the more than 30 starters after barely seven minutes had elapsed. Just as the pace settled
momentarily, a wayward duck saw a ripple in the bunch with Ben Carmody coming down heavily and
what little cohesion there was going out the window altogether. Ben was luckily able to leave the
track under his own steam but after three crashes in three weeks, the B Grade bunch must be
starting to wonder whether they hadn’t all passed under a previously unforeseen ladder shortly
before crossing paths with a black cat who then had the misfortune to dart off headlong into a
mirror… In any event, in the aftermath, there were few surprises with the early pace setters – Rory,
Matt, and Mick Tollhurst – definitively snapping the elastic and surging well clear of a spirited but
ultimately unsuccessful chase by Ben McCarthy, Rainer Wilton, and Mitchell W. Down to the closing
stages and it appeared Rory either hadn’t got the memo about sharing the lead or just didn’t want
anyone to intrude on his training ride, as he shouldered more than his fair share of the pace making.
As the trio rounded the final bend, Matt D wasn’t about to let such an act of ‘kindness’ go
unpunished, mercurially coming out of Rory’s wheel to deliver a decisive blow on the line. Rory
managed to hold on for second while Mick appeared content to roll across in third.
With just six rounds remaining, we’re very much at the business end of the season and if Round 14
was anything to go by, then there is plenty of exciting racing between now mid-March. Once again,
thanks to our fantastic Commissaires and volunteers, especially our First Aid officer Nathan
Edwardson who has more than earned himself a night off for Round 15!