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Summer Criterium #17 Race Report

Photo: Ian Hutchings

Round 17 of CCC Summer Crit was again blessed by the weather gods with clear skies, mild temperatures, and a slight head wind down the back straight just to make life interesting.

A small turn out in the Junior HC didn’t stop the excitement as several of the Junior Whites combined to ride a TTT against Alex Steele and Valentin Torres-Schmidt who started with one and two laps respectively. Over five laps, Alex and Valentin put up a strong showing but were eventually reeled in on the final corner. Winners regardless, the change in format proved a fun alternative and still got the best out of the littlest legs of the night.

B Grade picked up where it left off the week prior with sharp attacks from the gun, Matt Darling again a prominent animator early on. Last week’s escape artist Stephen Blackburn managed to join Matt at one point but after having watched Blackie sail away seven days prior, the bunch were having one of it this time round and burnt several matches to bring it all back together. Jeremy Gilman-Wells making his welcome return to CCC racing after a hiatus of several years made an immediate impact and was seldom outside the top five wheels, while Trent Smyth was also reprising his role of masochist-in-chief with some strong pulls on the front. Further attacks were discouraged as the pace remained high through the closing stages, before Dave Watts launched the attack that many had anticipated but were nevertheless powerless to stop. Rainer Wilton was quick to spot the threat, as were fast men Ben McCarthy and JGW, striving valiantly to close the gap before Dave crossed the finish line. Onto the home straight for the final time and it was an each way bet with Dave eventually holding on to take a memorable and well deserved maiden victory. Ben nabbed second and Jeremy third, while Lauren Thomas led home the women in their own tight sprint, Ella Bloor and Kim Peterson rounding out the podium.

A Grade was another carbon copy of the week prior as Karl Michelin-Beard attacked from the gun. Macca Edwardson was prominent in the chase with Ben Morrison and Rob Jeffries also showing their cards early in their respective efforts to bridge the gap. With Dylan Hopkins coming across, in short order a dangerous break of four had emerged as the bunch looked to Trekky and Tom Chester to marshal the response. Obligingly, the duo stepped up with about 30 minutes still left on the clock, splitting the chasing bunch and eventually dragging a reduced peloton back into contention. Undaunted, Karl clipped off solo for a second time, this time with Atticus Nowlan-Crisp and Tom trying the bridge. As Karl extended his lead, Trekky swung off down the home straight with nobody looking too eager to take up the chasers’ mantle. After a momentary pause, Trekky was off solo this time riding across to join the three escapees. Despite a great ride and even a helping hand from the series leader, the pace proved too much for Atticus who popped with around 25 minutes remaining, while in the race behind, Dylan and Stu Griffiths struck out from the handful of chasers that remained and set about working together to reach the leaders. But that would prove a bridge too far as Karl, Tom, and Trekky combined to put the podium beyond any doubt with just the order remaining to be decided. What little mystery their was in that endeavour, however, quickly faded as the clock ticked down and Trekky failed to dislodge Tom. Out of the bottom corner for the final time, Trekky managed to push Tom all the way but in their end, couldn’t stand in the way in win number ‘I’ve lost count’ (9 if we’re being precise – from 11 starts) for the Blackshaw Racing fast man. Karl crossed the line for a richly deserved third after risking big and digging deep with a season best performance.

D Grade was left to round out a fine night of racing with several surges through the opening stages testing the legs and whittling down the size of the peloton. The Fondo Boys were again prominent in keeping the pace high, Darren Stevens also contributing to ensure they didn’t have it all their own way. With just a few minutes left on the clock Will Astridge looked to strike out but couldn’t snap the elastic, C Mumford driving the pace all the way down to the bell. As splits emerged through collarbone, it was Dan Gowing who emerged first onto the home straight and looked to be dialled in for the victory, before Stephen Peter managed to find an extra gear and overhaul him in the final dash to the line. Mark Cantril was also in the mix coming home in third, while Chloe Pratt finished with the lead riders and cemented her status as the best women’s sprinter in C Grade, Ash Watts a little further back in second and Ashleigh Lawson in third. For the Junior Whites meanwhile, Archer Peppinck rode a great race to stay with D Grade until the end, with Hugo Williams soldiering on bravely to limit his losses in second, Annika Astridge in third.

Perfect conditions are again forecast for Wednesday and as we head towards ACT Crit Champs in March, now is the time to come and hone your legs before the Championships are decided. See you Wednesday.