It was another sellout road race for the Subaru Active MWCC Akuna West Head race, which was also hosting the MWCC Club Championships. Raced in perfect conditions, which saw the riders rise out of the fog of Akuna Bay and into the rolling plains of West Head. All grades were at capacity and so it meant some fast and tactical racing with the cream rising to the top.
It started as early as Tuesday in the week leading up to the race, grades such as A Grade were putting up the full sign quicker than guys trying to get an entry into a Dan Bilzerian party. Is it any wonder? How many races in Sydney give you the opportunity to race 75kms against Sydneys best without doing 30 plus laps of Heffron Park. A course that hurts the big sprinters and allows the climbers to attack from the roll out? So if you missed out, mark Sunday 2 November 9am in your diary because that is when the next round will go on sale via www.trybooking.com/EQVY By Friday there was only 2 spots in C Grade and 2 in D Grade still left so don’t think that it is a matter of just turning up on the race morning and handing over your money, this isn’t 2008. November will also see the return of C Hubbard Division which will be a neutral climb out of Akuna Bay before completing 2 laps.
The main focus of this report will be on the MWCC Club Championship results. The smurfs were out in full force and it shocked Philippe Gilbert out on his casual Sunday ride out at West Head in his full BMC kit, riding his Trek when the riders were zooming by. The A Grade race combined the Masters and Overall Club Championship. At MWCC we do things a little differently and have the Masters Championship for those over 40, but that did nothing to decrease the quality of the field. In fact half of the field were over 40 and all of them sharks. With no Kauffman, Jory, Bonello or Patton due to them racing some minor race known as the Melbourne to Warrnambool and last years champion JJ Hazelton residing in New Zealand, it was open to anyone who was willing to throw caution to the wind.
Plenty of riders animated the race early including young Dan Scheiner and Ian Cocks who declared post race that he won the ‘Most Aggressive Rider’, that would have been a great award if we were giving them out, but we weren’t. It was Alex Gardner and Anthony Lowes who would form a two man breakaway in the later half of the race and ride away from the field before dueling it out for victory, with new comer Anthony Lowe showing no respect to the highly decorated Gardner and obviously he didn’t get the memo because he rolled Gardner for the victory – Anthony Lowes 2014 Club Champion.
It came down to a sprint for third and Phil Gray showed that he is continuing to develop into a classy rider when he lead the bunch home. The battle of Masters Champion was a sprint between Ross Chaffer and Dave Evans, with Ross Chaffer showing why they needed to get rid of him prior to the end. Ross Chaffer 2014 Masters Club Champion.
The B Grade race showed early that it was a fairly even field, with no rider strong enough to ride away from the bunch and most riders not wanting any breaks to go up the road, so while Garett Paton tried to shell some riders early on the Akuna Bay climb, it all came back together at the top. Tim LaForest was obviously in the same mindset of Ian Cocks because he was continually aggressive at the front and looking to get something happening but as soon as any rider got a bit of a gap or two riders started to get clear, the peloton would react and bring it back. As it became clear during the second lap that no one was going to Cancellara solo to the finish, the pace slowed to a slow recovery ride for the second half of the race, with every rider wondering how they would win the bunch kick.
At the final berg the pace picked up and five riders managed to edge clear, only for all of them to track stand at the top of the berg because no one wanted to lead out the others into the finish. This was a costly error because it allowed Brendon Cropper to close down the gap and get back in touch with the leaders, it was once again grouppo compacto. The riders slowly made their way to the finish, with everyone just watching everyone else. It was going to be a case of who would panic and kick first and too early. One rider blinked and launched and this caused Greg Linsdell to pop out of second or third wheel, which unfortunately then collected Nathan Crumps front wheel and with rear derailleur and front spokes then doing battle, it suddenly became a question of would anyone make it to the finish line? In an absolute masterpiece of bike handling Nathan Crump kept it upright even as the wheel went out of true, it was the type of skill you see on a Road Bike Party video. By the hand of god, no spokes busted and riders managed to all stay upright. This cancelled out pre race favourite Crump from the equation and the Club Secretary who was on his wheel because he had bailed onto the otherside of the road in preparation for impending doom.
It was here that Tim LaForest looked like he may have won as he was now leading the race, but like the Flash, the orange bike of Brendon Cropper whipped around the group up the left hand side and he soon caught and passed a fading Tim LaForest to finish clear ahead of Oliver Hambidge who also finished strongly. Brendon Cropper B Grade Champion.
B Grade also contained our top placed female rider, Lynne Clarke who would finish about 6th or 7th on the day and be declared Womens Overall Champion.
As to who was in the wrong in the sprint? I don’t think the Commissaires penalised anyone, looking at the tape there was certain movement off his line by Linsdell in the sprint zone but it wasn’t a great amount and Cavendish wouldn’t have protested – Crump must also be responsible for his front wheel but he wouldn’t have been expecting the somewhat boxed in Linsdell to veer out and change lines but Linsdell also had to start his sprint and he was clearly in front of Crump. The slow pace probably caused some issues, so the ruling would have been unfortunate racing incident.
C Grade was another close affair however while we only saw footage of the finish, it was Peter Livanes who took the clear victory and there was a clear time gap to second and third. Livanes finally living up to his potential and producing the big result when it counted, will he able to reproduce the form now that he will be racing B Grade? Dave Yonge managed to hold off Kevin Hazeldine in the sprint. Both of these riders are fairly new to West Head racing and so will have taken a lot from their first Club Championship. Peter Livanes C Grade Champion.
D Grade was the only mixed club affair however it was heavily dominated by MWCC riders. From a race organisers perspective it was great to have such a large D Grade, it is a great development grade. Unfortunately I didn’t see this finish, so can’t report on it, however it appears that most of the fireworks came towards the end of the race, although second place finished Craig Wotherspoon advises that he had a average heart rate of 180bpm – some people will do anything to avoid being promoted up a grade. Dave Warneford will also be joining Craig in D Grade after winning the title. Third across the line was Camilla Larson from Peloton Sports. Dave Warneford D Grade Champion.
Unfortunately I don’t have to hand the other results, however I can confirm that Michael Jaeger came into the race as the favourite in the non MWCC A Grade and he showed it with a solo victory. He was in all of the early breaks which included an attack with Justin Morris, but it ended up being Tristan Cardew of SUVelo who would team up with Jaeger bomb before he was left behind to finish second. Michael Potter of NSCC was third across the line.
The next race is 9 November. Pre entry is recommended from 2 November at www.trybooking.com/EQVY entry is $15. It is a first in, first served scenario. Grades A-D are racing and all clubs are welcome to attend. For the month of November we will also offer Day Licences for an additional $30 for those that do not have a gold racing licence.
Race format will return to normal next month – A Elite for NRS or strong A Club riders, A Club for standard A Club level riders both A grades are 3 laps. 2 x B Grade which will be named Shimano and SRAM, there is no difference between theses grades, both are two laps and race from Akuna Bay. We will also return to having a C Grade that races from Akuna and a C Hubbard, which will be a neutral climb but 2 laps. D Grade will remain a single lap with a neutral climb. We hope to see you on the start line.
Looking for more racing? Northern Subrubs has their criterium at Beaumont Road on Sunday 19 October. Eastern Suburbs is now hosting Tuesday Night Crits at Heffron Park from 6pm.