Ideal racing conditions greeted those riders on Sunday morning who ventured out to the Sutton Driver Training Centre (SDTC) for the season opening kermesse race. Grey skies combined with a cool easterly made for exciting racing.
For the uninitiated, the SDTC course is a challenging one. The long finishing straight can lull you into a false sense of security about what the rest of the course is like ‘over the hill’. What you can’t see from the start/finish line are the mutiple steep rollers out the back, linked by a series of technical and off-camber corners. It’s non-stop concentration: hill, corner, descent, punch the hill, descend, corner, hill, descend, catch the wheel… and repeat. It’s great fun!
A grade was the first to roll away at 8am. A streamlined bunch consisting of four riders, the rolling course ensuring there was nowhere to hide. Nicholas Wilson took the win holding out Torben Partidge-Madsen who followed in second position 7 seconds behind.
In B grade a field of nine riders took to the track just after 8am, riding clockwise. Nathan De Tourettes got straight down to business and put the power down, just to check if everyone was sufficiently “warmed up”. After a couple of hot laps the pace settled down. Alana Forster, fresh from a hugely successful Santos Festival of Cycling showing, set about reinstating her ‘most aggressive’ rider designation by duly leading from the front. Then the attacks began.
Jimmy Carroll and Stuart Griffiths both had multiple turns at getting away from the bunch, but were consistently reined in. Nathan De Tourettes also continued to menace the bunch. Until it was Carroll who pulled away solo around the half way mark.
While Carroll was off the front there were numerous attempts by others to potentially bridge across, none were successful at breaking up the bunch. It was then that Carroll suffered a dropped chain on the last hill and the field was back together once more. The final few laps were not without attempts at breaking away, or trying to sap the strength from the sprinters’ legs. Carroll once again went clear of the field with a lap to go. With some uncoordinated chasing, the bunch had to make up around 200m over the course of the final straight. Stuart Griffiths looked like he may overcome Carroll, but it was the latter who held on to take the win, with Griffiths a strong second, and Alana Forster rounding out the podium.
C grade fielded a small pack of committed riders and put on a finishing display for the crowd to enjoy with a three-way sprint for the line. Simon Bauwens edged out Andrew Gordon (second) and Graham Maltby (third) by the tiniest fraction of a second according to the timing chips.
D grade also saw another tight finish, with Stuart Rossler claiming first spot ahead of James Millar. Darren Eaton crossed for the final podium position. Strong displays were also shown by Vikings women in D grade. Kaitlin McGuire challenged the field taking out the win amongst the women and only narrowly missing out on a spot on the Podium overall (fifth overall +:04). Melany Toombs ensured Vikings were well represented on the podium, taking out third spot.
The addition of timing chips has upped the accuracy of race results, evidently a worthy addition given how events unfolded. The equally important (if not more so) addition of a coffee cart at the start/finish definitely enabled the ride home, and some quality post-race debriefing! The SDTC will again host a kermesse race on Sunday 14th February, so be sure to grab your squad and enter.
A big thank you to all who volunteered at Sunday’s race. The 2021 Road season is run by volunteers from the CCC and VCC and every effort to help out goes a long way to ensuring a comprehensive schedule of races for the year ahead.
See the race results in full here
Check out some great shots taken on the day.
You can find out when races are on by checking out the race schedule https://www.vikingscycling.org.au/2021-race-schedule/