Finally some sunny weather and MWCC riders were looking all over Sydney for some racing. Some were racing in the State Team Time Trials, Cervelo Masters Cup and Randwick Botany’s Saturday racing at Heffron Park.
There are many forms of racing and one of the popular styles in Criterium racing. The beauty of this style of racing from an organisers perspective is that if you are racing on the road, it is only a few streets that require marshalling or in the case of Randwick Botany it is a purpose built track (i think dating back to Roman times based on the quality of the surface). For the uninitiated Criterium racing is a style of racing that takes place on a course that is generally less then 5km in length and the riders do a set number of laps as the case at Randwick (16 laps for B Grade over a course about 2 km) or do as many laps as the race dictates within a certain time period normally about 45 minutes and then normally two laps after the time has passed (as per Northern Sydney Beaumont Racing – approx.45 mins plus 2 laps).
Generally the idea is to keep the pace high in the early laps, to try and whittle down the number of riders who are left for the final couple of laps, this results in a number of attacks from riders and also a frenetic pace from the first lap. The beauty of this, is that if it isn’t your day and you explode out the back; it isn’t a long ride back to the finish line – something all riders will experience sometime in their career. It is not unusual to see half the field retire from the race even though the distance and time is only short.
With that quick beginners guide to Crit racing out of the way, a quick summary of Saturday afternoon racing at Randwick Botany CC when 5 Manly riders ventured out of Middle Earth over the Harbour Bridge to Heffron Park aka Mordor. The wind swept course met the riders of Mitch Kable, Dave Watkinson, Roger Shackleton, Jordan Reizes and Alexis ‘Will’ Kaless with soigneur Ben Elvy and Tamara Hunter making sure the team had all that is required. The course while appearing rather straight forward with just little humps and a few twists and turns is actually rather torturous due to the wind always sweeping over the course so riders have a tailwind, then a head wind, then a cross wind every twist and turn. All riders lined up together in B Grade and set off on 16 laps, the pace was very high early on with Mitch Kable always near the front, after a few laps Dave Watkinson showed his years of experience and started launching some attacks off the front – everyone else in the race didn’t appreciate it very much as riders scrambled for wheels. Roger Shackleton with the ‘fountain of youth’ in his bidon maintained his presence at the front of the bunch and kept the pain on when Dave W wasn’t off the front. At 7 laps to go a rider from Turramurra slipped off the front and was soon forgotten about. With 4 laps to go Alexis ‘Will’ Kaless went off the front and it was the first time he had any wind in his face, a bit of a gap opened up and the other Manly riders got to the front and rode a controlled tempo to see if the breakaway could succeed. They hit the bell lap and Alexis had about 200 metres on the group, however the group had forgotten about the rider who had slipped away earlier in the race and another rider who had set off in pursuit a few laps prior. With a little over 700 metres to go – Alexis put the parachute on and the race quickly swallowed him in, as the Manly train came to the front and as they hit 400 metres to go lead out by Jordan– Manly were the first four riders and setting it up perfectly. Sure enough the train rode it out perfectly and in a display to make NASA proud – launched Kable off the front to hit the line closely followed by Dave Watkinson. Kable pumped the fists in triumph only to discover that the group hadn’t caught the two break away riders and the sprint was actually for third.