by Rob Monk
A small field of 14 riders contested race four of the Summer Criterium Series at the much-maligned Endeavour Street Circuit. The hotdog turns seem to suit only one rider, Shane Stiles, and many others are too frightened of losing or cornering at speed so they choose to do the Sunday social ride rather than race.
Stiles had everyone jumping out of the corners early on. Only Chris Bagot and Peter O’Donnell were displaced from the bunch though. O’Donnell was first up after a long spell from racing and will be better for the run. It was great to see him back.
A predictable pattern of racing soon emerged. Stiles flew into each corner, gapped the field, sprinted out of the corner then after 200 meters stopped pedaling and waited for everyone else to sprint back on. This proved frustrating for everyone and Stiles, the serial pest, knew it. After forty minutes Rob Monk, who corners like an oil tanker, decided attack was the best form of defense and tried to get off the front of the group. His only hope of holding on when the race split was to be up the road already. The race did split; just after he was caught and he was dropped along with the rest of B Grade. Monk, Nash, Yeatman, Edward, and Alex were forced to try and chase down Stiles, Skinner, Prestidge, Kennedy and Marriott. The chasers had some good fortune when Graeme Parker had a mechanical and after a lap out helped tow them back on. The A graders sat up in preparation for the sprint.
As the bell sounded the bunch was all together. In the back straight Kennedy and Parker attacked. Monk formed a moving roadblock allowing them to establish a handy break. Latrobe City’s Craig Skinner was the dominant sprinter in the group and cycling team tactics 101 should be obvious here. Make Skinner chase down Kennedy and Parker. Everyone else sits on and hopefully, he’ll be too gassed to beat them in the sprint.
Pea brain Stiles was having none of that though. He flew around the final corner in the lead with Skinner on his wheel. He towed Skinner all the way to the line and the Latrobe rider went past on the him to take the victory. Second place getter Stiles was given some direct, corrective feedback after the race by the rest of the Warragul riders. Jayman Prestidge took the remaining podium place which he earned by wheel sucking for the entire race. Next to finish was Glenn Marriott and Rob Monk.
The series returns to Burke St for the final race of the 2019 season next Sunday. 8.00am sign on for an 8.30 start. Sign up here.