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Summer Criterium #19 Race Report

Image: Ian Hutchings

Smaller bunches were the hallmark of CCC’s Summer Crits Round 19, though whether a nod to tapering ahead of the ACT Crit Champs coming up or Iron Mike on the weekend, or just the inevitable attrition and tired legs that comes at this point of the season… is anyone’s guess.

The Junior HC saw the welcome return of Barney Mungoven who seemed content to set tempo for the other scratch riders and leave them to duke it out at the end. Down to the bell and Alex Steele ran slightly wide through collarbone leaving Quinn Peppinck in the box seat to finish off Barney’s good work, before Alex found something special to come round Quinn in the dying stages for a tactically astute victory. George Williams, meanwhile, deserves an honourable mention having ridden solo all night to preserve his one lap lead only faltering on the final bend with the home straight in sight, as does Ellie Gregory who made her debut at the tender age of four! 

D Grade was a cagey affair with precious few full-throttle attacks, the hitters all seemingly content to risk it all in a closing stages. Energy conservation was the order of the day, with some long pulls from Ash Watts, Ryker Bentlin, and Bill Shelly setting a tempo that discouraged opportunism. Mustafa Anwar looked to upend the script around the half-way point with a stinging attack down the back straight but wasn’t able to snap the elastic and fly solo. On the bell, it was still anyone’s race to win although as the bunch emerged onto the home straight for the last time, it was clear that equation had been reduced to just two; Bill Shelly and Ryker Bentlin. In the end, youth would get the better of experience as Ryker simply out dragged Bill in the final meters to cross the line first, Shane Anderson coming home a few seconds further back for third. Ash Watts, meanwhile, finished with the lead riders to take a dominant victory for the women, with Nadezda Dorsoski and Grace Field in second and third respectively a lap down. For the Junior White, despite a few attacks from Hugo Williams, it was a largely familiar script as Zach Thomas took up the lions share of the pace making before finishing off the job with a fine sprint to the line, Hugo in second and Evelyn Power continuing her strong progression in third. And in E Grade, Xanthe Pick outsprinted Rae Rogers for the win, with Matthew Kallir Preece as ever the crowd favourite in third. 

Stalwarts of the Canberra cycling scene, Andrew Chamberlain and Andy Yates, were prominent early on in C Grade with some strong pulls on the front, stringing the bunch out and making an early statement of intent. Greg Harris was the first to go clear of the chasing peloton with 28 minutes still left on the clock, but despite a strong showing, was back in the fold with 18 minutes to race. With 12 minutes left on the clock, Sam Moffitt came to the front, looking watchful as he seemed to suss out his fellow competitors as the bunch made their way down the home straight. Kristie Caplikas through caution to the wind, shattering the relative calm with 10 minutes remaining, forcing Nathan Edwardson into action who put in a huge dig to ride it all back together through collarbone, keeping teammate and series leader, Andy Yates, in contention. With the bunch strung out and splits appearing, Adam Martin saw his chance, going clear down the back straight and seemingly dangling just off the front as he emerged from collarbone. Determined, Adam slowly built his lead and was starting to look dangerous as Dan Gowling set about limiting the damage at the head of the chase. Sensing danger, Andy Yates tried to bridge but succeeded in dragging several riders with him to eventually neutralise the threat, only for Zoe Clarke to immediately counter with an ambitious move of her own. With two minutes left on the clock and riders still reeling from the attack and counter-attack of the last few minutes, Pete Rogers managed to sneak of the front briefly before Alex Gorringe and Sam Moffitt flew past him with their own escape attempt. But Andy Y wasn’t about to let the selfless work of his teammate Nathan Edwardson go to waste, timing his run into the finish impeccably, emerging largely unchallenged in the race to the line with another commanding sprint performance and surely earning a likely promotion to B Grade next year. Zoe Cuthbert and Kristie Caplikas, meanwhile, had their own sprint duel with Zoe getting the better of the two, Zoe Clarke making it a good night for ‘Zoes’ coming home in third to round out the women’s podium. 

After the excitement of C Grade, A Grade had a lot to live up to. Tom Chester was on the move early though more intent on stretching the legs than snapping them altogether. Steve Crispin was also active, keen to ensure he was in the right place at the right time when the inevitable break went up the road. Eddie Mungoven, fresh off some solid MTB results, was also looking good early on as he covered several moves with apparent ease. After the initial sparring, a six-man move comprised of Steve Crispin, Karl Michelin-Beard, Ben McCarthy, Matt Rizzuto, Torben Partridge-Madsen, and Eddie found themselves with room to maneuver but lacked the cohesion to really make the most of the opportunity. With Trekky and Tom back in the pack, the break was brought under control in short order creating the perfect opportunity for Macca Edwardson to try his hand with an attack of his own down the home straight. Alert to the dangers of giving Macca to much rope, Eddie and Trekky were quick to follow, dragging the bunch with them and setting up Torben for his own immediate counter, this time with Rizz and Macca in the wheels. As the trio looked to press their advantage, Toby Stewart gave furious chase, with Trekky also contributing, eventually bringing things back together with about 15 minutes still left on the clock. As the pace momentarily let up, it was a case of third time lucky for Macca who dropped the proverbial hammer once more, this time with Eddie, Steve, Karl, and Reece Tucknott for company. Back in the bunch, group cohesion faltered as Trekky was largely left to shoulder the burden of welding it all back together once more and in relatively short order, it became clear that the fiver riders up the road would be riding away with the silverware. Keen not to squander their good fortune and timing, the five worked seamlessly to ensure they wouldn’t be caught, setting up an intriguing battle with nought but Macca necessarily known for their sprinting prowess. So it was that down to the bell, Macca went clear through collarbone to cap off an outstanding ride with a dominant sprint win as he emerged onto the home straight several bike lengths clear of the chasers. Reece meanwhile was pushed all the way to the line by Eddie to take second and third respectively, with Steve just missing out on the podium by the narrowest of margins in what might have been the biggest age spread we’ve ever seen at the sharp end of an A grade race. Chapeau to all involved.

And so it is that we’ve finally come to the end of another summer of crits but with everything to play for across the grades… no, scratch that – in all but D Grade, the results are in… in which case, if the old adage that ‘you’re only as good as your last race’ holds true, then there is still plenty of bragging rights to play for as we look to round out another fantastic season. The weather gods appear likely to continue to smile on us with perfect conditions for racing set for Wednesday. Grab your bike, grab your friends, grab your family, just grab something, and come along to help cap things off in style. See you there.