Cycling is often described as chess on wheels, however based on the tactical nouse of some of the A graders this week, some of them should go back to tiddlywinks.
There was a clear discrepancy in the strength of the A grade field on the start line, with returning from overseas Pro Brenton Jones, Slovak future Pro Stefan Michalicka and single bloke with no kids, ex Pro Daniel Furmston clearly in a league of their own, compared to a bunch of Masters riders whose best days are clearly behind them.
There were suggestions pre-race that todays graded scratch should have a handicap element, with the 3 guns to start a lap after the rest of A grade. Handicapper Rob Monk overruled such suggestions, electing to put himself in B grade instead.
The difference in ability between the 3 guns and rest of the field became evident early in the race, when they broke away at the 16 minute mark, taking last week’s winner Rollinson with them.
Now at this point you didn’t have to be a brain surgeon to realise that this was a decisive moment in the race, with four of the strongest riders all in the break and pulling away from the bunch. As threatening as such a break may have been, the chasing bunch still had a far superior advantage in terms of rider numbers and with full co-operation of steady, smooth, rolling turns, the bunch of 4 could easily have been caught, especially with three quarters of the race still remaining.
Chris Joustra, Brett Kennedy and Glenn Marriott tried to explain this with clear and concise explanations to the other riders. Phrases such as “please contribute gentlemen” and “roll over smoothly please” or words to that effect were clearly voiced.
The chasing bunch however could be divided into two groups. Group 1, the clever cyclists, consisting of Joustra, Malacarne, Kenny, Hawk, Parkinson and Marriott who tried to contribute regularly at a steady speed which is known to be the most effective way of maintaining a high speed. Group 2, the stupid cyclists led by Commander in Chief Collins, Prestidge, Skinner and well supported by Shane “Anderson” Stiles, who all seemed to think that break would be best caught by Herculean strong serges after long periods of rest that would effectively act as an attack on the rest of the bunch. Normally in such instances there are enough clever cyclists to nullify the stupidity of the minority, but with most of the clever group struggling to hang on for the length of Burke Street on every lap, and slowing on the hill to recover, the average speed was never going to be maintained at a high enough level to reel in the 4 man break.
In a similar fashion to how Donald Trump was elected, if enough stupid people vote they will get want they want. Needless to say, the bunch were never caught and the Brenton Jones led group went on to record victory. Brenton was first, Stefan second, Furmston third and Rollinson fourth.
Paul Collins attacked the chase group after the bell and held them off to finish fifth.
The B grade race was animated by Big Jim Timmer Arrends charging up the hill each lap. He establish a gap a few times and was joined by Connor Baggot for a few laps near the finish. Pete Whelan and Paul Yeatman combined well to drag them back. The bunch was together at the bell and a sprint looked inevitable.
Jason Fritzlaff had other ideas. He snuck off the front in the back strait and as is often the case, everyone looked at each other wanting someone else to chase him down. Big Jim was sick of towing the sprinters around all race so he wasn’t going to do it.
Eventually George Tambassis started the chase but decided he’d done enough at the second last corner. He swung wide expecting others to come past him but Pete Whelan follow him and an argument about who should chase ensued. Meanwhile Fritzlaff’s advantage continued to grow. Chirs Beales jumped away from the group in pursuit while Tambassis and Whelan continued to argue. Graeme Parker sensed all may not be lost yet and finally took off after Fritzy. Rob Monk and Paul Yeatman followed.
It was all too late though Fritzy hung on to take the victory from the fast finished Yeatman. Monk was third, Tambassis fourth and Beales fifth. Fortune favours the brave. Well done Fritzy.
The C grade group was all together for most of the race. Bryce Edhouse spent a lot of energy towing them around. In the finish Pete Finlayson started the sprint from the point on the road that has delivered him many victories in the past. Unfortunately for Pete that point is about 100 meters further than his current form and fitness can sprint for. He was swamped near the line by the fast finishing Peter MacDonald. Jason Dasty was second and Zvonko was third. Finno may need to pick a new mark on the road next week but he managed to hand on for fourth. Bryce was fifth.
Race 3 of the Full Steam Ahead Criterium series is on next Sunday at 8.30 AM at Burke St. Please register online if you plan to race.