The first race of the season was forecast to be a smoking hot affair with a complete fire ban within the National Parks meeting the riders upon arrival at race sign on. This didn’t stop some sizzling racing in all grades with over 100 riders turning up the heat in the January edition of Akuna-West Head.
A Grade – Yallouris the one man wrecking ball
With a number of the usual suspects away at Nationals, we had a number of riders come out of the shadows and we had one of the largest A Grade fields in a number of months – of course that didn’t stop Justin Morris of UCI Conti team Team Type 1 from signing on. It was young Dan Scheiner who first attacked the field first, looking for the long range attack after the first climb, he was joined by the Under 23 St Gorge Development Team rider Nick Yallouris and another escapee, so while they worked together, they didn’t have enough to combat the whole strength of the peloton, particularly with a combined weight of about 50 kilos between them – and Justin Morris willing to do so much work on the front. They were absorbed back in after a few kilometres of fruitless work. However it wasn’t to be their last attack, onto the second lap they had another dig and again got a lead on the group on the way back to the finish. This time Nick Yallouris wasn’t going to be dragging any other riders to the finish, so he waited till Dan Scheiner did a turn on the front up one of the last uphills and he then attacked him, blowing Dan up as a result and that sent him back to the bunch and straight out the back. Yallouris then set off on his solo escape to the finish like he was Tom Boonen in last years Paris Roubaix. Riders generally need a fairly solid lead in order to get them over the final two bergs however like Turbo Durbo later in the afternoon, Nick Yallouris just ensured that he kept a solid TT to the finish. In the end he had it fairly comfortably for the win, which is impressive for such a young rider. The bunch came in about 20 seconds down and it was a new rider in Simon Finch (MWCC) who won the sprint for second place ahead of Garry Millburn (MTBA)
B Grade – Flash Gordon takes the finish
It seems that plenty of the B Grade riders have been getting the miles in over the Festive break and this was reflected in the majority of B Grade riders wanting to race in the prestige division, that races from the bottom of Akuna. It was a full field and it was going to be difficult to pick a clear winner from this bunch – from all accounts the pace was on from the roll out, with riders looking to attempt to shell as many riders as possible, however at the top of the climb it was still grupetto compacto. It wasn’t until the final turn around that Richard Flash Gordon made his move out of the bunch and made his dash for home, as he hit the final turn around, he had his head down and wasn’t waiting for anyone. A few riders looked at each other and wanted to know who was going to sacrifice their race to give someone else the victory. The Flash was burying himself and moving every bit of power and oxygen to his legs and he wasn’t turning around as they came into view of the finishing line. The gap was probably 30 metres and there was a queue starting to form up and go for the line – but nothing was going to stop the flash from his victory, even if by this stage he could taste the blood in his mouth and the vision was going blurry. Richard Gordon (MWCC) took a well deserved victory with his daring attack and the effort certainly took his toll. About 5 minutes after the race, Flash was still keeled over and trying to get his breath back. Adam Kimberley of the Central Coast was second, just ahead of Matt Taylor from Randwick Botany who decided leaving early was better than being seen as third on the podium.
B Hubbard – Snow Man melts the field
A smaller than usual hubbard division of only 10 riders taking the start line and one went out the back pretty quickly. This division was made up of a few riders who had raced the day before (RBCC riders) and a few riders who had enjoyed their festive break a little more than others. The first lap out saw Ed Gralton and Brett Babicci soft attack off the front, Ed Gralton is well known for his early attacks and he is one that doesn’t enjoy just sitting in waiting for the last few kilometres. After seeing no one with them they kept going and got a sizeable lead. With a small chase group of 7 it was up to Darren Byers and his RBCC mate to chase and the other riders just happy to sit in and enjoy the view – even though they were wearing a racing number. Two versus two made this an interesting prospect that might have stuck. Unfortunately Ed had a mechanical at the wall which saw him snap his seat clamp and curse his enjoyment of fruit mince pies over Christmas and as a result Brett drifted back into the fold realising that a lap and a half solo was not going to be very comfortable. Steady hard racing for another lap saw the field still together but suffering too. The group was were joined by a contingent of B-Prestiges who having been royally dropped from their race proceeded to comment on how slow the Hubbard race was – not realising that the field was about a third of the size and forgetting the irony that their race was actually too quick for them. 2km/h slower according to a strava comparison. A strong break from Mitch Dixon 4km from the finish saw a hard chase begin – as he whizzed by the finish line, the Club President was confident Dixon had enough in him to stay away. An ill informed comment because as so many before him, attacking before the last two bergs can mean that a rider is hitting them with his legs full of lactic acid and they can be very cruel as a result. He was caught at the turnaround but with the field reduced to 4 it was cat and mouse to the finish. Darren went for the advantage of surprise but was caught and the lead out ensued. After Darren tried to get a better position than lead out man, Evan Snow (MWCC) seized the moment and monstered home with a long-range sprint, Dave Adcock (MWCC) timed it almost to perfection from the back but settled for second on the photo finish. Mitch Dixon (MWCC) third and Darren Byers (RBCC) fourth.
C Prestige – Young Carrot best of his crop
A full field of riders in C Prestige and to be honest I have no idea what happened in this race, after not speaking to a single rider in this grade post race. So I imagine that it went a lot like this:
Alex Yallouris CCCC (Brother of Nick) claimed the win in, ahead of Steve Newman (NSCC) and Sean Couley (MWCC). “I’ve done the maths roughly,” Yallouris admitted. “I needed to isolate the stronger Manly riders and get a little bit of a buffer leading into the final berg. I am only a youngster and there’s no pressure to win, so the Carrots can play a few more cards.”
Yallouris, one of the few Central Coast Carrots in this grade made the most of his freedom, moving away from the peloton on the second lap of the 50km race. After the race, Yallouris was on the fence as to whether he felt like there was a reason to now step up to B Grade. “It’s always hard this time of year but ultimately I’m here to train for the Coasties Club Championship,” he explained. “It’s a great opener to have a day of hard racing to get the intensity back. I’ve done a lot of work over the last two weeks after a training camp in over Christmas. If you ask someone like my brother I wasn’t in the best form there but I just have put my head down and dome some really good training. This just showed that I’m well on the way to another good season.” The group was still fairly sizeable by the end of the race and the riders were jockeying for position as they came into the final sprint. However with a solid season of RAW track racing behind him, it was young Alex who sprinted clear of the field, taking the victory by a few bike lengths. “It’s a course I seem to like,” Yallouris admitted. “It’s a test of the fittest, the strongest – that climb can really take it out of your legs but I used it to my advantage.” Not far behind him was Steve Newman of NSCC and Sean Couley (MWCC) was making the adjustment from Cyclo Cross star to road rider in his golden boots when he rounded out the podium
C Hubbard – Peacock struts his feathers
Another mystery race report. The C Hubbards enjoyed a more steady approach up the Akuna climb however that didn’t stop a few riders from feeling the heat early. This grade had a number of clubs represented and so there was no clear advantage to any one rider or club. The grade stretched a little out at the Wall and it looked to be splintering at the far turn around however it was soon back together as no rider wanted to do too much work at the front, after having listened to Paul and Phil on TV, they realised that they would prefer to be a few riders from the front, in order to save their energy. With a few kilometres to go a number of riders realised they were running out of road in order to make an impact on the race and a few riders found themselves in difficultly as they looked into their own suitcase of courage and found it empty. The lights went out for a few riders on the turn around, as they battled to go from zero to thirty in quick succession. As the contenders dwindled, the heads of state made their way to the front and it was a bunch of six who would be jostling for the podium. Gavin Peacock of MWCC showed the biggest turn of speed, edging out Mark Redimerio (LACC) and Andre Thorneloe (no affiliation).
D Grade – John Ward finally gets the win!
Every month John Ward (MWCC) has been edging closer and closer to the podium. Third one month, second last month and now he finally has his victory that he has been working so hard for. A great example of someone who started out riding in our Saturday Cruisers ride, with no real idea about bike riding and he is now winning races after working his way up the chain. It has been great to see the continued growth of improvement in Johns riding. The pace was fairly fast for D Grade up the first climb and this was putting a number of riders into a bit of trouble, Roger Shackleton soon found himself in no mans land although by the end he lead home the laughing gruppetto. The riders from Le Spit Cyclery had sent a fairly large contingent into this race and they had decided that the best way to ride, is on the front and to set a fairly solid tempo ala Team Sky and this ensured that no rider was going to be able to escape to glory. The control at the front start to come unravelled as the kilometres to the finish unravelled and this allowed John Ward to charge for the line ahead of Bruce Potts from Le Spit and Chris Wildman (MWCC).
Thanks to all the riders who came out and enjoyed the racing. Thanks to Col, Rob and Greg for marshalling and Brad Ward for Commissairing the race. Next race 10 February.