Photo by Ian Hutchings
Round 5 of CCC Summer Crits kicked off under the watchful eye of the race Commissaires as they monitored the steady build up of storm clouds overhead. With the rain holding off and lightning skirting to the south, racing got underway with the variable conditions adding another dimension to the nerves being felt on track.
The ever-improving Copeland brothers took on the rest of the field in the Junior HC, starting from scratch to try and ride their quarry down. Rolling turns, Hamish on Lachie managed to reel in several riders but had their work cut out pulling back Quinn Peppinck and Barney Mungoven who themselves were working nicely together. Just before they made the catch, Hamish went clear from his younger brother to rocket past Barney with Quinn burning all his matches just to get on his wheel. Playing the tactical game, Quinn sat patiently in Hamish’s wheel who did a ton of work into the wind on the closing laps. In the final kick to the line, Quinn managed to round up Hamish with a fine piece of sprinting to earn his second win in as many weeks, Hamish a thoroughly deserving second with Lachie in third.
A Grade was straight out the gate next with Oscar, seemingly having warmed up on the rollers before hand, ripping straight off the front before the bunch had even properly clipped in. Quickly pulling out a 50 meter lead, Hayden Stevens was impressive in marshalling the chase with Tom Chester more content to leave Oscar out for a little while to cook solo. Unaccompanied as he was, Oscar opted for the tactical retreat with Karl Michelin-Beard next to try his luck getting up the road. With some clear wind between him and the bunch, Karl looked to pace his effort as Ben Morrison and Hayden combined to keep the gap manageable. All together once again around the 10 minute mark, and Brendan ‘Trekky’ Johnston fired his first salvo coming up the home straight, with Toby Stewart along for company. What might have been some well intentioned probing to that point quickly gave way to all out survival as splits appeared everywhere, Josh Bilski working hard to keep pace with the leaders. But as the dust settled, what emerged was a lead group of seven of Canberra’s best riders: Tom C, Hayden S, Trekky, Ben Morrison, Stu Griffith, Ben Hill, and Oscar. While the chase put up a valiant effort, there were no prizes for guessing that the win would come from one of the seven up the road, the group rolling turns cohesively and seemingly content to delay the inevitable fireworks until the clock had run down further. Down to the bell, things were getting cagey with no one looking to try for a long range attack. Eventually, down the back straight, Ben Morrison took up the charge, pushing into the wind until just past collarbone. But as the sprinters fanned out onto the home straight, any doubt about the outcome quickly disappeared as Tom C whipped his bike from side to side, surging clear and producing his trademark powerful finish to keep his perfect scorecard in tact, the field left scratching their heads as to how they might get the better of him. Hayden continued his red hot form to hold on for second while Oscar came home in third. And a special mention also for Ben Morrison who on debut for the season proved more than capable of mixing it at the sharp end of one of the best crit series in Australia.
D Grade was a considerably more orderly affair with the bunch’s seemingly content to wind the pace up slowly and whittle down the numbers as riders went out the back in ones and twos. Junior Whites Zach Thomas and Hugo Williams made a mark by holding on for the first few laps but eventually they too succumbed to the rapidly increasing pace. As the various races within races unfolded, Darren Stevens shouldered responsibility at the head of proceedings with Mustafa Anwar also contributing to the pace making. Meanwhile, Annika Astridge showed true grit riding her way back to Zach and Hugo in the Junior Whites, Martin Grande also well in contention. Despite several surges, it was clear a bunch sprint was on the cards with Mustafa just edging out Jim Mungoven in the run to the line, Chloe Pragt in third outright and first for the women ahead of Amelie Burrell and Thalia Chambers. Not even the photo could split Zach and Annika, meanwhile, who were declared joint winners in the Junior Whites, Martin in third.
C Grade was clearly inspired by the A Grade antics with Liam Shelly, Kate Vandenberg, and Ben Shillong off the front on the opening lap, Andy Yates looking to bridge closely followed by another ‘man-in-pink’ in Nathan Edwardson. Despite looking dangerous, or perhaps because of it, the escapees were swiftly brought back under control with Nathan Monck immediately countering. Unwilling to cede the mantle of ‘top Nathan of the night’ Nathan of the Edwardson variety was quick to chase Nathan of the Monck variety down, only to see Adam Martin dance by in his bid for solo glory. Reading the race perfectly, CCC Junior Coach, Andy Gordon was quick to bridge with Andy Yates also powering his way across to form a solid trio up front. With Rod Bates patrolling the chase and protecting teammate Andy Gordon up the road, the trio set about their business with a ruthless efficiency. Lucy Skeldon looked to animate the chase behind, Luke Rogers always attentive near the front. With the bunch seemingly resigned to accept their fate, Nathan M found an extra gear, managing an impressive bridge to the leaders in the dying stages. Legs duly blunted from that effort, however, Nathan was forced to watch as Andy Yates took the spoils in a tightly fought sprint a bike length clear of Adam and Andy. Lucy finished near the front of the chasers for another solid victory for the women, with Sophie Chapman just edging out Kate V a few seconds further back.
With flashes of lightning on the horizon, B Grade got under way with some trepidation, Atticus Nolan-Crisp quick to inject a note of urgency as he clipped off the front. Unable to stretch the elastic to breaking point, however, that task fell to Trent Smyth who went clear and rode solo for a lap of two before being ridden back down, Ben McCarthy pulling hard for the first of what would turn out to be many occasions through the night. Tiffen clearly intent on getting riders up the road, no sooner had Atticus been brought under control than Dennis Mungoven went up the road, quickly establishing a sizeable gap. But a solo victory wasn’t on the cards, Matt Darling prominent in the chase and hurting plenty of legs in the process. Handing the baton across yet again, Atticus tried once more in the closing stages and looked to be in contention until the fatigue set in with a lap to go. In the messy sprint that ensued, Dennis Mungoven showed the complete package as he threaded his way through the leaders emerging first onto the home straight and holding that position across the line. Ryan Koroknai made Dennis fight for it all the way, however, with Matt Corby a bike length further back in third. Kim Peterson was gutsy as the only female finisher for the night keeping her run of good form alive.
Another entertaining night of riding with a mix of reduced bunches and sprint finishes. With the season now in full swing, a dominant solo victory still remains elusive across the grades but certainly something for everyone to go in search of as we head into Round Six on Wednesday. See you there!