The high mountains of West Head were witness to the People’s Club – Manly Warringah putting on a memorable day of racing, which saw Manly dominate the overall victories taking two of the three races on offer in the penultimate round of Battle of the Bridge. As we head into the final round this Sunday at Heffron Park, the overall table is delicately poised and will be decided in the final races on offer. The premier road racing venue in Sydney saw resplendent racing across all grades and the report will give you an insight into its magic.

The high mountains certainly added a bit of chill to the air, however MWCC had rolled out the red carpet with all riders and spectators greeted with the baristas pouring some freshly brewed coffee beans, the orchestral music that filled the air prior to the racing had the riders feeling like they were about to pedal into the Colosseum. The anticipation filled the air and the dulcet baritone voice of the commentary team had riders eager to witness the MWCC race course and its riders dazzling riding abilities.

The first grade to roll out was a the A Grade division and as the rounds have gone on, SUVelo have continued to field depleted ranks and it appears that it is a club besieged with infighting. While they were victorious in round one, they have been slipping ever since and this was evident when Jesse Coyle who had been on the podium in the first two rounds, failed to show for this vital round. They have fallen victim to their own hubris after an early victory, something that MWCC so clearly identified in their round one report. With only three riders signing on, it was going to be a tough morning of racing for them. Perhaps too much vlogging and not enough speed work?

The race rolled out and while there were some early fireworks, mainly from riders such as Nate Bonarius (SUVelo), riders were more than happy to let him drift off the front because with only a recent return to racing, he was bringing the knife to a gunfight albeit a very nice new Cervelo. Unlike many other Elite races held at West Head, the early break didn’t form as riders were attentive to the action and potential for a long range bombing. The animation of the race came from Manly Warringah and the resurgent Northern Sydney.

Northern Sydney have in recent years failed to find that top step on the podium, often the white line fever has seen them crumble up the pressure, however thanks to the solo actions of one man, Michael Potter this may be changing. There has been a resurgence in NSCC victories, and perhaps for NSCC not all heroes wear capes and this one rider can lead them from the darkness. Of course it could just be one bright spark and with the types of performances he has been putting in of late including the U/23 State Road Title, it won’t be long before Michael starts wishing he was wearing the Manly blue.

Mid way through the lap 3 of 4, Michael Potter launched a solo attack, partly because he knows no one else in his club would be able to support him. MWCC looked around and considered their options as Potter rode off. Do we let him go? Do we rely on the ineffective RBCC riders to be able to pull a turn and perhaps mount some sort of defence, it was clear SUVelo weren’t up to it. Road Captain Matt Dinham made the decision, let Potter go and let the MWCC riders mill around at the back looking tired and perhaps short of energy. The plan was perfectly played by these riders.

With Potters gap increasing, it was like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel, it was a masterclass of riding and considered by many spectators as one of the most impressive rides at West Head, which will certainly annoy absent NSCC rider Marcus Culey who would feel that he has put in many comparable performances without the accolades on course. The factual nature of all MWCC reports, is evident in the praise that it gives this first class ride.

Back in the field, Dinham decided to start to bridge the gap however it was constantly being welded back together by the NSCC riders of Jack Renshaw and Angus Calder who’s negative tactics ensured that Potter would stay away and like any true racer, if it isn’t first, then MWCC aren’t interested. So coming into the finish line, MWCC were content to sit up after Michelangelo Potter had rolled in close to 2 minutes ahead over the bunch. Northern Sydney dashed to the line, desperate for their moment of glory. While many were considering calling it the renaissance of NSCC racing, the reality once one stepped back and considered the whole picture, was you had Michelangelo upfront and then a bunch of finger painters making up the rest of the red and black army, it was like watching a horde of preschool children bringing home their paintings as they stood on the podium. We politely applauded their ‘master strokes’.

You may notice that there has been no mention of any Easts or Central Coast riders in the A Grade report and that is because their clubs simply aren’t up to this level of racing unfortunately.

A Grade Podium
1. Michelangelo Potter (NSCC)
2. Jack Renshaw (NSCC)
3. Angus Calder (NSCC)

For some race video highlights, check out this video from Nero Racing

The B Grade race is known as the Gentlemen’s Division. There is a purity about the racing and as a result, such exquisite racing requires a large dose of the MWCC contingent. Many riders are resplendent in their club kits and it was only going to formidable level of racing. From the roll out it was bellicose riding, as if they were crunching out a business deal with no prisoners being taken and it was why RBCC Vice President Dave Jackson was quickly seen out of his depth.

A number of MWCC riders were active at the front of the race, with Ed Shilland setting a brutal tempo across the parcours before Dave Yonge was lighting it up on any of the longer ascents. This was like being in the kitchen and watching a Heston Blumenthal masterclass, because everything that MWCC did was so precise and perfect and every little strategic cut was another movement towards victory. The other clubs could do nothing but sit back and watch in awe, all they could bring to the table was some burnt toast.

As the puppet masters pulled on the strings, a select group of 6 got away and with some Central Coast welding that group soon became 8. All of the clubs were represented in the move and it could have been game over for the rest of the field. But a gentlemen who is hosting a party, doesn’t kick his dinner guests out after the entrée and so while the field was strung out, Andrew O’Neill of MWCC slowly herded them back into the race in a selfless and gracious act.

Looking at the breakaway, it was clear that MWCC were the driving force in the group with NSCC rider Andy Logan doing his best impression of a bobble head, as his whole body rocked all over his bike as he struggled to hold the wheel. The group witnessed Phil Hey of Central Coast sacrificing his own child, when young Lincoln was left by the side of the ride with chain issues. Showing the close father and son bond between them, Phil went to the front of the bunch and increased the tempo, as young Lincoln tried unsuccessfully to get his chain back on, no doubt after some garage servicing by his own father. This is what it takes to win at Battle of the Bridge, are you willing to sacrifice your own child?

MWCC decided the best party is one where everyone feels invited and has a good time and so while we shed some of the hangers on, the group came back together for the final lap. While we are gentlemen, we are still top dog and coming into the finish of the Gentlemen’s Division, MWCC ensured they would take the top spoils and Scott Austin would take the overall top spot. In a moment that no one has witnessed so far this season in Battle of the Bridge, Phil Hey saw it upon himself to take second place and collect for Central Coast, a confusing moment that was likened to trying to single along to the new Justin Bieber song Despacito.

In third place, the Ginger Ninja Dave O’Connell of NSCC would scrape in for third and collect some vital podium points for Northern Sydney which will be crucial leading into the final round. NSCC are like a dog licking scrapes off a plate when it comes to seconds and thirds, they love the leftovers.

B Grade Podium
1. Scott Austin (MWCC)
2. Phil Hey (CCCC)
3. Dave O’Connell (NSCC)

The C Grade race is the people’s division. A division that features all comers, some a little rough around the edges but at MWCC we welcome and embrace all riders even those from Randwick Botany. Many riders within this division are slowly becoming cognisant of the optics of their personal brand. Once again MWCC in the era of equality and giving everyone a participation medal, didn’t want to completely dominant the podium, we would be happy with taking first place and the sharing amongst the others. Unlike certain clubs like NSCC, we believe in a bit of equity distribution when it comes to podiums.

It was for this reason, that we really let Declan Jones of Randwick Botany believe that he could win the race. Every round he has moved up a spot on the podium and he was so sure of victory this round, he especially brought out his skinsuit to show the other C Graders that he was all business. We let him dangle off the front, we let him believe that he was the superior rider throughout the race but of course, since he was from RBCC we couldn’t with all our dignity actually allow him to win the race, he is from RBCC after all.

So when it came down to the final kilometre, we still gave him that belief that he was going to win, when he started sprinting from 500 metres out, we cheered him on knowing that he had gone way too early and as sure as night turns to day, we waited till he was 50 metres out and then like a small child waiting for a pony on Christmas morning, we rode by and crushed those dreams. Another MWCC victory via Chris Wildman and to really kick Declan while he was down Jonathon Moore of SUVelo rode past him in the final few metres.

Chris ‘the dream crusher’ Wildman was proud to pull on his MWCC for this victory and the face of Declan on the podium for RBCC says it all – ‘why do I ride for this cursed club he wondered to himself, I have strong sock game and some fresh white kicks. I deserve better, I deserve MWCC status.’

C Grade Podium
1. Chris Wildman (MWCC)
2. Jonathon Moore (SUVelo)
3. Declan Jones (RBCC)

MWCC also ran an open D Grade division, which is known locally as the ‘hairy leg’ division. This race featured a number of riders who will be more than welcome to sign on in C Grade next month. The first female home was Samantha Boyce of Rapha who was strong enough to stick with the second bunch on the road after they were dispatched by the soon to be C Graders.

D Grade Podium
1. Lachlan Burrows (UNSW)
2. Nelson Aston (SUVelo)
3. Brendan Hancox (SUVelo)

So as we now head into the final round of the Battle of the Bridge at Heffron Park this Sunday where does that leave us? Manly are looking extremely comfortable and are poised to take victory in the overall Battle. Even with all of their gloating Northern Sydney are on an equal number of wins to MWCC and it is only a few minor placings that has them ahead at this stage in the competition, as Bane told Batman ‘There’s a reason why NSCC is the worst hell on earth… Hope. Every man who has ventured there over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy… So simple… And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned at Hornsby that there can be no true despair without hope.’

It will without a doubt be another sell out round of racing and so all riders are encouraged to get their entries in early, to guarantee their spot on the sideline. This round will feature grades A-C and an Opens Womens Race, riders from Clubs in the Battle of the Bridge who podium in this grade will have their points contribute to the title.

Race Details

Where/when

Heffron Park, Maroubra, Sunday 30th July

Start times

7:00am – Sign on
7:30am – Women and C Grade Men
8:30am – A & B Grade Men

Enter: https://suvelo.com.au/events/battle-of-the-bridge/

Post race we will have the trophy presentation and some affordable, portable lifestyle beverages and pastries at Heffron Park, so everyone is encouraged to remain engaged for the MWCC victory lap.

The Current Table

Northern Sydney (3,3,5) 26pts
SUVelo (2,4,0) 20pts
MWCC (3,0,3) 15pts
Randwick Botany Cycling Club (2,1,2) 13pts
Central Coast Cycling Club (0,2,0) 6pts
Eastern Suburbs Cycling Club (0,0,0) 0pts

Points are 4 for a first, 3 for a second and 1 point for a third.