The Akuna West Head Roubaix was held in cold and wet conditions to ensure that only the toughest started and finished the race. In parts the rain felt like rocks hitting your body, cycling shoes became heavy, cycling clothes went from white to black and the temperature dropped as riders attacked the peloton just to get warm. All up a perfect day of racing.
As race morning came about half of the sky was filled with stars and the other half dark clouds. Riders coming from the Central Coast were leaving with the wipers on, while riders coming from the East were riding to the race start in rather warm conditions. The unusual weather meant that many riders hit the snooze button, while at Akuna Bay the sign on area was completely dry and set up for race day. Numbers were down in many of the lower grades but both A Grades rolled out at capacity for 3 laps of cold,wet Belgium style racing. This race day was replacing the previously rained out version, however conditions by mid race were far worse than anything the previous Sunday had brought about. The Akuna West Head was also hosting a round of the Sydney Womens Road Series, this meant that a number of riders were competing in their first ever road race – well what an introduction to racing!
With so much rain during the race yesterday, all riders would be strongly recommended to ensure that they give their bike a good clean and lube – we recommend WD40 products, to clean and protect your bike. Or you could simply drop it into The Fixed Wheel and let the professionals give it a strip down and rebuild.
The first grades to leave the Marina rode up Akuna Bay in dry conditions and it wasn’t until they were in the early stages of West Head that the skies opened up and riders were now facing rain out on course for the A Grades that meant they were facing up to 70 kilometres in the rain – how much fun was that going to be. The A Grade race had been billed as Brickell versus Jaeger however Chris Jory who recently represented Australia in the Herald Sun Tour and was a prominent rider in the National Road race this year wasn’t going to let riders forget that he is still a force and deserved greater respect. With his GPM teammate and hardman Brad Mills in the bunch, Jory was able to get in the early break with Brickell and Joshua Aldridge of Subaru Albion. With Brickell and Jory both having plenty of racing experience in Europe, they were used to these rather miserable riding conditions and so they were looking to set a strong tempo and make sure that the chasing bunch got organised and had to work to bring them back.
Subaru Albion were so excited that they had a rider in the main break, they even let two of their younger riders pull out of the race early, when they collided with each other in excitement as it looked like the break was going to stick (the only incident in all grades of racing) – could they finally pop their cherry with a win at West Head? If this would have been an Eastern Suburbs race, Frank would have ensured that Josh Aldridge only had to complete two laps, while the rest of the field completed three – however with no Easts bias it was going to come down to race smarts and pure brute strength. Many a betting man would have thought that Brickell with his recent win at the Erik Mather Cup at Eastern Creek on Easter Monday was going to bank another winners cheque, however Jory knew that adding this monument win to his palmares will greatly increase his chances of receiving a new European contract and it will allow him to win the social media war with compatriot Dan Bonello, who is yet to open his account at West Head.
In the end it was MWCC/GPM rider Chris Jory who took out the classic ahead of Dan Brickell of Sutherland and Joshua Aldridge of Subaru Albion in third. Pre race favourite Michael Jaeger of Peloton Sports rolled in with the main bunch a little down on the 3 escapees, hoping to return to the podium next month.
The ride of the day probably belonged to Simon Coughlin in the A Grade Club race, who went early on the start of the third lap to ride off solo for his victory. While Ian Cocks did plenty of work hoping to bring it back and Andrew Pickering was forced to get on the front and pull the bunch around, because as last months winner, no one was going to just let him sit in and have an armchair ride to the finish line. While Pickering certainly had the loudest kit in the bunch, his jigsaw kit was missing the vital piece of victory – who went to the canny Simon Coughlin who launched his lone attack after patiently sitting in during the early stages.
In the Womens Road Race Series, while big numbers had entered the previous proposed round, numbers were down on race day, which resulted in the combining of A and B Grades for a two lap race and C and D Grade for a one lap race. For a number of women it was either a novelty being able to race in a all female field or for some it was actually their first ever race. So many of these riders can take heart, that riding conditions couldn’t get much worse and if you could race on Sunday, then you could race anywhere – so keeping entering and giving it a go.
The Womens A and B Grade field had a number of talented riders with MWCC Lynne Clarke being the marked rider and current series leader. Early in the race Lynne didn’t have to do a lot of work having her loyal riding partner Lana Moy doing plenty of work on the front and setting a strong tempo. The conditions made for tough racing and soon the field had split and the stronger riders had managed to escape – in the group were the favourites – Clarke, Narelle Hards of NSCC, Josephine Meldgaard of Sydney, Geraldine Blomfeld- Brown of Waratahs, Angela Smith and Gabrielle Howard. The screws continued to tighten through the race as the riders continued to test each other on the climbs.
Eventually Lynne Clarke and Narelle Hards managed to escape and while they worked together for a little while to establish the winning break, it soon became a battle of tactics with neither rider wanting to lead the other rider out in the final battle. In the end Lynne Clarke MWCC had the legs to overcome Narelle Hards of NSCC and consolidate her lead in the series. Josephine Meldgaard was there to round out the podium for Sydney CC.
The Womens C and D Grade was perhaps one very harsh introduction to racing, not your pleasant morning ride. However all riders should consider that it was good for the soul to line up and race in those conditions. While I am not too sure of how the race panned out, I was able to score the best seat in the house, when A Club were heading out for another lap as the Womens C and D Grade was lining up for their sprint finish with Victoria McNeill finding herself in the unfortunate lead out position, while the other two riders of Larri Wallbridge and Liz Tenney played cat and mouse behind her. Larri Wallbridge was able to take the win ahead of Liz Tenney.
The Womens Road Series now heads to Calga this Sunday for the Time Trial Round.
In such rainy and cold conditions, special thanks must go to those who stood around in the rain while everyone raced – if you thought it was cold racing – think about how the guys just standing around felt. Brad Ward and Antoni Mikac were our commissaires and they were there first to set up and were also the last to leave on the day having packed up when everyone had left. Kenn Hedges and Brendon Cropper were busy trying to work out how to keep blood flow to all of their joints while they stood at either end of the course marshalling the turn around points. We also had assistance from the Altitude Training Centre and The Fixed Wheel. Our next race is on the 11 May with entries opening the 4 May this will be the HED Ardenne round out the Classics Season before we move to the Grand Tour part of the year.
Our Cyclo Cross Season commences May 17 at Terrey Hills.
All of the results for each grade are shown below. On the day we gave out over $1,100 in prize money. All of the grade winners received a special edition of the Akuna West Head Roubaix Rocky Road Chocolate and thanks to Rhodes Docherty we also had free cans of coke at the finish line to give you some sort of buzz to get you home.
The Womens grades did not have a prize pool on the day – this is due to the organisers of the Road Series, pooling all of the prize money from each of the rounds and this will be awarded at the end of the Series. Apologies if any riders were not aware of that prior to lining up on the day and were relying on that payment to feed themselves. For more details on the Womens Series check out this link – http://www.manlywarringahcc.org.au/racing/womens-race-series-get-involved/
A Grade Elite
- Chris Jory MWCC
- Dan Brickell
- Mark Rowling
A Grade Club
- Simon Coughlin MWCC
- Aaron Dunford
- Mark Rowling
B Grade Shimano
- Jonathan Herb MWCC
- Simon Anderson
- Vihesh Malhotra
B Grade SRAM
- Joshua Lopez Peloton
- Gavin Peacock
- Chris Gillespie
C Grade Shimano
- Ed Shilland MWCC – Promoted to B Grade
- Dan Galloway
- Robert Bolger
C Grade SRAM
- David Yonge MWCC
- John Crnogorac
- Zaid Mohsen
- Lynne Clarke MWCC
- Narelle Hards
- Josephine Meldgaard
- Rowan Sams MWCC
- Kim Austen
- Rebecca Frater
- Larri Wallbridge NSCC
- Liz Tenney
- Victoria McNeill
- Tracy Bloxsom
- Natalie Fraser