Windblown on Weatherboard – 24 February 2019
Weatherboard – 50 Km
Ride The Wild Wind
‘Who am I to blow against the wind?’
– Paul Simon
Twenty six riders competed across four divisions on a sunny Weatherboard circuit. The strong northerly wind made the 50 kilometre races extremely tough for all competitors and proved a factor in each race – either nullifying it, or creating tactical opportunities.
As expected with a small field, Division 4 played out in familiar fashion with Jakkii Dawson taking her leave and riding away from Rob Young, Mal Rock and Graeme Parker. Rock would eventually succumb to the relentless wind, however Parker and Young once again united in chasing after Dawson.
Another tough hit out for all concerned.
Peter Livitsanis took off like a rocket – as per usual – leaving the others scrambling to line up behind him. He swung off and the dynamic Danny Whelan took over.
The pace was on right from the start and it seemed everyone had forgotten it was not a handicap race. The bunch worked short turns, however that proved to be the demise of Darryl Brown.
Quick up the hill on the first lap but when they reached the Avenue and turned left – things got ugly. The head wind was high and it gained intensity each lap.
The menu along the Avenue was Danny on the front for a long entree – in the gutter – then he would swing off after a kilometre or so. Whoever was on his wheel would stay in the sit and follow Danny across the road. Then Danny would stop pedalling and someone would have to take up the front.
Bob Morley occasionally took the front and would go up the road but was struggling – due to aerodynamics) for any pace.
Just when anyone thought it was impossible to go any slower, Livitsanis would roll through and debunk the idea. After almost doing track stands, Steve Linane would take over and put the race back into the gutter.
This pattern continued until the fourth lap when Noel Said he could not handle the pace any more and dropped off the back.
Livitsanis was also lost just before the end of the Avenue. Whelan hammered it out of the corner making it impossible for the dropped riders to make up ground. Now it was back to three riders – Linane, Morley, Whelan – for the last lap and a half.
Aided by gravity and the strong tail wind, the three wizzed through the chicane on the last lap and were surprised to watch the placegetters from the Division 2 race storm past.
Rounding the last corner Morley went on the front. Linane and Whelan took the sit in the crosswind before the final ascent of the Henderson’s Road climb.
Up the rise they went, blowing apart as they crested with Linane opening up an unassailable gap over Morley, who had a large gap on Whelan.
Linane wining comfortably, with Whelan fighting back to nab Morley near the flag.
A line up for the ages in what became an epic race. The first lap and a half turned out to be a sedate affair bordering on neutral. It served as an extra warm up opportunity before the pace lifted. Ash Burke, Matt Ayres and Jim Crumpler doing a lot of work, yet proceedings were still polite with riders providing each other with cover.
Through the chicane and the tailwind enabled a high pace. Back to the Avenue and heavy breathing indicated the effort required to stay in the bunch was high.
All pretense of neutrality were discarded exiting the Avenue for the second time. Craig Lightfoot assisted the aforementioned and Peter Canny and Rick Calvert also joined in the fray as a new urgency to reach the high point at Weatherboard was realised.
Back through the chicane and the race was on. The field stretched out on the run to Hendersons Road. Through that corner and the cross wind was like being struck by a cricket bat.
Up the rise and everyone is either looking for cover, or the front of the bunch to keep pushing the pace.
Jeremy Humber is looking to protect his legs after the previous day of track racing, Geoff Martin is lost from the bunch and Al Cureton is struggling to find rhythm.
Calvert was keen to keep everyone on the rivet as they turned back onto Avenue Road. He rolled to the front and again the field was stretched out.
Canny and Lightfoot joined in the pacemaking and when it looked as though things would ease, Crumpler wound up the watts and had everyone working hard again.
The efforts along the Avenue helped set Lightfoot up and he hammers out of the corner and opens a gap…50 metres, 100 metres, the gap is almost 200 metres as he rockets through the chicane.
Turns are traded to keep him in sight – although the consensus is that he won’t be able to hold the gap along the Avenue with the ever increasing breeze. Lightfoot is out front and eases when he sees the catch is inevitable.
Momentarily the races settles as the bunch reunites. Burke takes off as they turn out of the Avenue again. Looks of exasperation as everyone acknowledges “here we go again”. Aided by the tail wind, Burke is one hundred metres up the road before the bunch finally collects itself and gives chase. This effort sees Cureton off the back.
Burke is strong out in front. The bunch do just enough to keep him close, yet he is left out to dry.
The catch is made on the last trip up the Avenue, into what is now a strong wind. Some jockeying is done in the bunch as they approach the corner with everyone expecting a major effort.
Canny has them in the gutter when Lightfoot goes fifty metres before they reach the corner. Crumpler quickly has his wheel. They take the turn and enjoy a moment of gladness that the head wind is now gone.
Ayres catapults off Lightfoot’s effort, he takes a flyer off the front up the rise. Lightfoot and Humber respond and a 25 metre gap opens to Canny and Burke, Calvert is just behind and Crumpler can’t respond for the moment.
Ayres, Lightfoot and the rejuvenated Humber set a high pace on the road to Weatherboard. The chase behind is ragged. Canny is virtually solo as Burke had already spent his energy. Crumpler can’t catch Calvert and he can’t bridge to the Canny/Burke combo.
Through the chicane and the gap is gradually opening. The chasers are trying hard, however the three in front are shouting encouragement to each other and are racing for keeps – using every ounce of assistance the tailwind can provide.
They turn onto Henderson’s Road. They have a large enough gap if their bodies don’t fail them.
They keep working all the way to the top of the rise, still shouting encouragement to each other. They crest and now the friendship is over.
Humber has popped. Ayres launches first and gets past Lightfoot, opening a vital couple of metres, which he holds to the line.
Lightfoot and Humber at twenty metre gaps with Canny and Burke not far behind.
Only seven starters in Division 1, which could have easily been just six if not for the time trialling ability of Rob Ellis in making it back from where the race was supposed to start and finish (Henderson’s Road) just in time.
The wind served to retard what promised to be an exciting race on paper with the like of Greg Ley, Andrew Rushton, Rob Ellis and Sam Smith all known for their penchant to attack. New riders Matt Elkan and Darryn Reed are a little harder to gauge and one never knows what level Richard Taylor is at. Elkan did a couple of surges. These were shutdown by Smith, who later on tried his own attack – without success.
Rushton and Smith tried an attack up the Avenue which was quickly covered.
The wind proving to be the chasers ally on this day and making for what one rider described as a benign race – too hard to get away and too easy to cover attacks. The last time up the Avenue saw the speed below 25 Kph with Ellis and Ley both commanding the pace and controlling the race.
Ellis is renowned for his last lap efforts and he didn’t disappoint. Multiple surges up the Avenue and then the climb to Weatherboard saw Reed and Taylor unhinged.
Five remained down through the chicane and back to the home straight. A solid effort up the Henderson’s Road climb saw Rushton sit up as the other raced away to a sprint finish. Elkan proving superior from Smith. Ellis and Ley next over the line.
1st – Jakkii Dawson
2nd – Robert Young
3rd – Graeme Parker
1st – Steve Linane
2nd – Danny Whelan
3rd – Bob Morley
1st – Matt Ayres
2nd – Craig Lightfoot
3rd – Jeremy Humber
1st – Matt Elkan
2nd – Sam Smith
3rd – Rob Ellis
STATE CRITERIUM CHAMPIONSHIPS – BIG DAY OUT
110 riders competed across nine divisions at the VCV State Criterium Championships. Northern Cycling hosted the Championships at the National Boulevard circuit in Campbellfield.
Riders had a strong tail wind on the down hill straight, which made ensured the sprints were long and fast.
Team EUREKA had nine competitors on the day – many riding the circuit for the first time – as well as John Faulkner (VCV President) performing timekeeping duties.
The feature event of the day was the Men’s Division A race. Eureka’s Craig Lee, Jason Birch, Brett Martin and Matt Bowman were part of the massive field of twenty nine riders which was dominated by Northern riders.
Attacks and breakaways were the order of the day, with Martin often on the front sharing the load to tow the field back on. Lee was watchful throughout the event, however the fast downhill straight with the ever increasing tail wind would likely suit Birch. Bowman struggled to stay in contact with the field for the entire race and was frequently seen yo-yoing off the back.
On the final lap the field compacted coming towards the final turn as riders started looking left and right for someone to launch towards the chequered flag – when whoosh, Bowman took off around the outside and opened an unassailable lead. It was over in the blink of an eye as the rest of the field sprinted for the minor placings.
Eureka had two live chances in the Men’s Division B with Jason Hendry and Peter Gunston leading the charge. A pre-race bet saw Dean Wells earn $10 after not being on the front at any stage of the event. Northern had nine riders in the race which frequently shut down in to the headwind on the back straight. Hendry found himself on the front occasionally, as did the other visitors – Kane Airey (Geelong) and Tim Phillips (Central).
Gunston stayed close to the front the entire race and the only two real attacks were quickly shutdown by Wells and Paul Firth (Eastern).
The field compacted on the final corner Hendry struck out early with Gunston on his wheel and Airey using the Eureka riders to launch his winning sprint.
Eureka had just two riders in Men’s Division D after Bob Braszell was a scratching. Roger McMillan and James Knipe rode brilliant tactics throughout the event which threatened to blow apart in the wind.
McMillan went up the road in a breakaway, which nullified that effort. The Geelong & Surf Coast riders presented a united bunch and had their lead-out train poised and ready in the closing stages. Knipe used his track experience to slot into he train and turning onto the home straight unleashed a devastating sprint.
After the races, Vince Sinni (Northern Cycling President) and John Faulkner (VCV President) joined with Nick Nomikos from Top Tech Panels to promote the 40th staging of the Benghazi Handicap on ANZAC Day (25th April).
Congratulations to Northern Cycling and the VCV for staging a highly successful event.