A new era of racing dawned on the Sydney skyline with the first round of the Battle of the Bridge taking place on Saturday afternoon at Heffron Park. The four way interclub launched to a massive response and showed that it has a big future on the racing calendar. Manly’s well laid out battle plan worked to perfection and has set the club up perfectly for round 2 on July 10.
The cold snap didn’t stop the pre racing sparring with plenty of action on social media as clubs attempted to apply some mental pressure and mind games to the other clubs and as the series continues and the desperation of select riders becomes more pronounced it will no doubt continue.
It was quite the sight to behold the large groups of Manly and NSCC riders making their way over the Harbour Bridge to swarm into enemy territory. The older and more experienced riders giving advice to the younger riders about the corners and ride surface and how they use to race it back in the day – at that stage most stop listening to Dave Watkinson.
The first two grades to race were the women’s grade and D Grade. The women’s grade was a solid sized field which can be unusual at many race events and showed that all clubs had riders ready to put it on the line for their club. We had a few new-comers to racing and this included Sean Beaumont a new rider to the club but one who was willing to show that he was fully committed to the club. As it came into the final straight, it was a straight two up rider drag race as they took various sides of the track and duked it out in a gentlemanly manner.
Sean gave it all to edge clear and took victory by about a bike length. However Sean wanted more from a race billed as a ‘Battle’ and wanted to show how willing he was to be selected for the next round of racing for MWCC, because after he crossed the finish line he decided that he needed to look like he had been in a battle so without any intervention he threw himself on the ground and full speed to slide along the concrete. It meant that he got to go home with a bleeding left hand side of his body, a ripped up kit and when people ask him what happened, he can simply reply “I won”.
D Grade Results
- Sean Beaumont (MWCC)
- Ian Ross (RBCC)
- John Evans (Syd Uni)
Unfortunately with Sean lying in the middle of the track, the women’s race entered the finish line for their sprint and the riders could be only warned in the dying stages that the race was being neutralised. Our riders Angela Falzarano and Alex Lisney were perfectly positioned to launch for victory but witnessing the waving flags they eased up and let the other riders negotiate on finishing positions. They calculated that it was better to give up this round and not mark themselves out of the remaining rounds, so full points to them for sportsmanship.
- Maddison Beevors (Syd Uni)
- Kate Olgers (NSCC)
- Clare Menzies (Syd Uni)
The grade sizes then swelled to near capacity for A,B and C grades and there seemed to be a few balaclavas hiding in some of the lower grades, which is to be expected from clubs such as Northern Sydney who are desperate to relive the glory days that no one seems to remember except them. We won’t name names but it was interesting to see a rider such as Tai Huynh in B, only to see him back in A grade and in the break the following day at Beaumont Road. Of course we will let you draw your own conclusions but it didn’t make a difference to the outcome and it won’t be the only tactical error that Field Marshall Archie Wilson of NSCC will make in this series.
In A Grade, SUVelo quickly showed that they only have one tactic and that is go hard from the start and try and establish an early break. While this worked for them in this round, with Jesse Coyle taking the solo victory all the high fives and celebrations are unfortunately very premature. Looking at the field it was clear that all of the big hitters weren’t on the startline, no Kauffmann or no Alex Naz in other words what would have been the podium 1-2, weren’t on the sign on sheets due to other race obligations. Those riders also happen to be all MWCC riders, so a hollow victory for SUVelo that once we commit a team to the race, will quickly reveal the pretenders that made up this podium. The road race will reveal our true strengths. It is quite hard to justify that it was an A Grade race, but I am sure SUVelo media man Chris Miller will spin it in some fashion, if anything just to get another instagram image of his bike up.
A Grade (of sorts) Results
- Jesse Coyle (Syd Uni)
- Nathan Bonarius (Syd Uni)
- Michael Cupitt (NSCC)
The biggest field of the day was in B Grade and this grade was clearly set up for the fans, because every group that went up the road from lap one contained a rider from each of the four clubs. As soon as a club got greedy and sent a second rider up the road, the bunch would pull it all back together. As soon as one group came back, another launched off the front and former RBCC rider turned MWCC rider Lewis Hunt was very active throughout the early stages as he was keen to show off his new club colours and earn his sign on bonus.
The pot shots continued for the first 8 laps, with no real impact and many of the MWCC riders were looking very comfortable moving up and down the bunch with ease, while you could start to see the riders such as Darren Byers of RBCC starting to suffer and look for wheels to grab as the speeds were just too much for him, even though it was more like an MWCC recovery paced ride. Eventually a group got away which included the main gun slinger for NSCC Matt Garnon, the eternal bridesmaid Geoff Hilbourne and so with these two clubs throwing their aces into the pile, we sent out a guy who would be a 3 of spades in Chris Taylor because we knew that is all it would take to counter these offerings. SuVelo missed the break.
Sending Geoff Hilbourne up the round is the equivalent of waving the white flag while you run back up the hill. The guy has raced at Heffron Park over a thousand times and has never won. Why would they think that today would be any different? Is that not the definition of insanity?
Garnon committed himself 100% to the break, Hilbourne 100%, Taylor 100% but he only needed to put in 75% to keep up with these guys. Meanwhile back in the field, every NSCC, MWCC and RBCC just sat back and got to enjoy the show of watching the lemmings of SUVelo throw themselves off the cliff. One at a time they would go to the front, blow up and then look at the NSCC, RBCC and MWCC riders behind them and then implode. Repeat.
In the inevitable end, Chris Taylor would be victorious in the sprint for B Grade, with Garnon picking up 3rd and once again Geoff Hilbourne on the podium but not the top step.
B Grade Results
- Chris Taylor (MWCC)
- Matt Garnon (NSCC)
- Geoff Hilbourne (RBCC)
In C Grade it was the early break away that would set up the rest of the race with a two man break of NSCC and SUVelo getting away from the rest of the grade. Most of the MWCC riders who were new to this course, spent the afternoon testing tyre pressure, cornering angles for the final round when SUVelo host. They were happy with the effort and the training ride because with an aim to complete the entire race without getting their heart rates above 100bpm, they were able to do this comfortably within the C Grade bunch. This was viewed by most of the C Grade MWCC riders as a solid hitout to finish off their 200km early morning training ride and a chance to spin the lactic out of their legs. I would read nothing into these results. I mean look at Tim Fitzpatrick of NSCC who came third, does he look like he can go up a hill at West Head?
C Grade Results
- David Leon (Syd Uni)
- Peter Beaumont (NSCC)
- Tim Fitzpatrick (NSCC)
Overall a very successful afternoon for MWCC with the other clubs performing exactly as we had calculated. This series is raced over four rounds it is like a game of chess, while others may be celebrating because they have taken a pawn, we are planning 15 moves ahead. I think after this round we are thinking check mate.
Riders will now be moving up to West Head for Round 2 on July 10 where we can expect a sea of blue jerseys on the podiums and dictating the racing in each grade. Eligible riders can enter online via https://www.trybooking.com/MAPT those with a series pass do not need to re-enter.
Check out the brief video from www.prism.bike that is posted in the top right.