By Jayman Prestidge
Twenty-four racers attended Friday nights Criterium Race at the Club’s Endeavour Street circuit.
The recent ‘Come and Try’ day bolstered the confidence of several first time racers and they returned for their next race.
The women’s race benefited strongly from new racers with a field of five riders taking to the start line. Kerryn Milner, Nicole Summerfield, Pam Benstead and Kristy Rollinson were joined by veteran Latrobe Valley rider Wayne Tunks in what was smart and exciting racing. The 800 metre ‘hotdog’ circuit resulted in each of the racers attempting to break away during the race. Kerryn Milner has clearly ‘caught the bug’ of racing and will not be far away from her first victory!
Nicole Summerfield took the initiative at the end and sprinted to her second victory in as many weeks, with Kerryn Milner in second and Pam Benstead in third. It was smart riding by Summerfield, who is clearly applying the race tactics she has been learning in recent times!
The men’s C Grade race consisted of some heavy weights who are perfectly suited to flat circuits. With a flat circuit, powerful riders such as Frank Benstead, Zvonko Maric, Andrew Gordon and Duane McDonald can use their size to sprint away from the smaller riders if the bunch stays together.
Despite several riders trying to escape the safety of the bunch, the race came down to a sprint and big man Zvonko Maric sprinted for victory ahead of Brett Kennedy and Rob Waddell.
The men’s A and B Grade were combined into a field of eleven riders. A combined field is generally tough for the riders from B Grade as they are clearly punching above their weight. Joe ‘Bling’ Patrick is one of these riders, although on Friday night he had a secret weapon to help combat the inequity – a new shiny bike!
A new bike can sometimes deliver a lift in performance and in Joe’s case his shiny new bike almost got him to the victory!
The race was competitive from the starter’s gun with all but one rider attempting to break away from the bunch. A Grade riders Matt Parkinson, Shane Stiles, Paul Makepeace and Justin Gravatt all took their chances at a breakaway but the remaining riders in the bunch were able to work together to claw them back.
Only one A Grade rider did nothing all race! He didn’t try to break away from the bunch, he didn’t help to chase the bunch back. He simply latched onto the wheel of the last rider in the bunch and rolled around. Smart racing!
As the bunch rounded the last corner, the rider on the sparkling new bike, Joe Patrick, sprinted away from the front of the bunch in a ‘win at all costs’ move. Riders of the calibre of Shane Stiles, Justin Gravatt and Matt Parkinson gave it all to close the gap down to Joe. With 200 metres to the finish line, the man who had done nothing all race decided to act! George Tambassis engaged his legs for the first time in a sprint, the speed at which no other competitor could match. It was extremely smart racing by Tambassis to take a victory in A Grade against quality opposition.
Bike racing is more often won by the smartest rider, not necessarily the strongest rider. It’s a game of tactics and efficiency and is why cyclists love competing. If you are out riding your bike and want to come and learn some smart racing tactics then come along to the Club’s next ‘Come and Try Day’ on Saturday 25 October, 2014.