Posted by on 03/5/00
A flash of lightening, loud thunderclap and some very large rain drops marked the start of the combined C & D grade criterium at Warilla last Sunday. As the spectators scurried for cover the riders squinted through the rain and spray from the tyres of the bikes infront and got down to the serious business of racing.
Due to the inclement conditions the riders were very cautious on the sweeping corners and with the exception of two attempted break aways by Phil Jones and Peter Evans the bunch predominantly stayed together. Coming down the back straight on the last lap Jones was infront but experienced track rider Jason Johnson timed his run to perfection and flew over the last 100m to record a good win. Noted sprinter Gordon Allen was also able to just pip Jones on the line for second place.
A bunch of twelve riders is not usually too large and unwieldy but with the wet conditions everyone in the B grade race was a little on edge and very cautious of the riders around them. Due to the experience of the riders there was not one close call. Joe Pereira, Phil Cuifo, Dylan Forbes and Garry Doughty set the early pace in the race. About half race distance Doughty tested the waters so to speak and attacked off the front but a very attentive Ernie Hall quickly nullified the move. The next move came from Andrew Telford but he was also chased down. The whole bunch was together as they rounded the last corner into the finishing straight, Forbes was on the front and sprinting strongly with Pereira and Hall close on his heels. In the last few meters Doughty flew up the outside to pip Forbes on the line with Hall third.
As soon as the starter sent A grade on their way Brendan Cato, Frank Tortorici and Mick Lockyer attacked. The trio kept the pace up and the chasing bunch was strung out. Tortorici found the going a bit hot and went back to the chasers, meanwhile Craig Williams and Frank Soto bridged the gap to create a four man leading bunch. While the leaders were unwilling to cooperate and keep the break going there was also a strong chase going on behind being lead by Jason Micaleff, Tony Pulo and Barry Neall. The riders all came together with about five laps to go and Cato immediately counter attacked. The only rider to react was Lockyer. As the two pulled away from the bunch Williams decided to go as well. Lockyer was unable to close the gap to Cato and Williams was closing on him quickly. On the bell lap it was clear that Cato would win and the only question was could Lockyer stay away from Williams. Williams caught Lockyer at the beginning of the finishing straight and took out second place comfortably.
Cato has won the last three A grade criteriums with Williams and Lockyer second and third in the last two.
Next week's race is a 41km scratch race and will be the first time the riders have raced over Marshal Mount hill since last winter. It should sort a few of the bunches out, especially the newer riders. Marshals are from group four.
|A Grade - 20 minutes + 3 laps|
|B Grade - 20 minutes + 3 laps|
|C Grade - 15 minutes + 3 laps|
|D Grade - 15 minutes + 3 laps|
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