Both Masters A/B and Elite A/B categories this summer at National Boulevard (yep, that's me in the pic getting the win back in '06 with a throw!) I chose to race Elite A for these crits. I thought I had a few friendly wheels to race against until the marshals called up Elite and half of them decided to race Masters! Arh well, me against the 'younger ones'! National Boulevard is a relatively flat crit with a fast/smooth surface. 1.8km or so per lap with plenty of racing room through every corner. The only obstacles being learner truck drivers and the wind. On lap 1 I asked Jake Sutherland if he was up for a break away, his reply was "We'll see, lets do the first few laps neutral". So I sat back in the bunch, then attacked at 5mins. I wasn't trying to get away solo, but trying to entice someone from the bunch to jump across and get working with me off the front. It didn't stick and I was soon back with the buch.
After about 15 minutes, and after I hit the bunch again, I got a gap with a guy in TFM kit but he ran out of steam as we were pulled back. A few more surges later, everything was being closed down. Jake and I got off the front for about 300m before the bunch closed it down again quickly. I got in another short break with a Coburg rider who held a good TT tempo, but again pulled back. With every gap that opened up, there was someone strong enough in the bunch to close it down and bring things back together. A few more solo attacks hoping for someone to bridge to me. No luck, pulled back every time! I went to the back of the bunch I had a word to Daniel Cecchini and Jake saying "us three should be able to hit the rest of them", I attack from the back, Daniel and Jake come with me but we're closed down quickly again by the bunch. Very frustrating but at the same time it was really tough racing/training.
Two laps to go, I finally gave up the idea of getting away off the front. 1hr of trying and nothing to show for it! I backed myself to cover any early move and had now planned to hit them hard in the sprint. The TFM rider lead out the whole way, he didn't want to, but I was 2nd wheel and wasn't going to roll through. He was snaking all over the road but I wasn't going to lead it out.... rolling... rolling.... TFM resigned himself to the front of the bunch duty as we got into the last lap. Knowing Daniel was a track sprinter, I had a quick word to him saying to get on my wheel as I was going to jump early and he could get a nice lead out. Daniel is under 19, and a nice kid, so I was happy to see if I could help him get to the line first. He then stuck to my wheel like glue. I wasn't going to hand him the race, but if my kick didn't work he would be in a good position to take the win.
Into the head wind the TFM rider gave a few phantom kicks that I covered easily. At 400m to go he gave one short burst but knew he couldn't keep away so sat up. 350m to go he was slowing up and looking behind him. I was still second wheel so I'd be able to hear anyone winding up past me. I kept and eye on TFM and at 300m to go I got the perfect jump on him. I was up beside him and kicking clear before he knew I had moved off his wheel - thankfully he kept a straight line and I continued to kick clear of the bunch. 100m to the line they weren't closing on me. I had three or four bike lengths and it was going to stick! Oh yeah!! Head down and across the line at 63km/h - WIN!!!! Daniel had missed my jump but held off Jake for the 2nd place.
The prize money for the day across all grades was donated to the Britt Lapthorne foundation, a worthy cause close to the Coburg club. (Britt's brother is the 2007 Australian Road champion, Darren, a Coburg CC member.)
RESULTS SATURDAY 8 NOVEMBER
1st Shane Miller
2nd Daniel Cecchini
3rd Jake Sutherland
4th Aaron Batchelor
5th Simon Welsh