Monday, 28 May 2012

CV: Metro Road Champs 2012 MMAS1/2. NC:Tom Probert Club Teams Challenge - 27th May 2012

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Castlemaine CC hosted the 2012 Metro and Country Road Championships again this year. The course had been extended to 80km for MMAS1/2 and we were warned about a 1km of dirt road section before race day. The main climb near the end of the race was the selection point last year, add in dirt and some filthy weather, I was looking forward to it.

Four starters in MMAS1, five in MMAS2.... Doesn't really get any more piss poor than that on the start line for a state championship. This isn't a 'go' at those entered, they were there supporting the racing that was put on. I'll take fair aim at the lack of race promotion though. Should CV start asking clubs to inform members about these events? Should clubs take more responsibility in getting their members to enter? I think they should. Having a state champion title should mean something for a club, regardless of what category it is for, from U17 Women to MMAS6+ Men.

At the start line briefing we were informed of a course change. No dirt. No hill. Out and back and around a loop, twice. Right..... At this point it was bloody cold and we just wanted to get racing. 2km in MMAS2 were content to sit on, I was still cold, it was time to race. Keeping the race report brief, I chased our lead car solo for 68km to the finish. It would have been around 72km but the turn-around point was moved mid-race..... a welcome move as it cut 5kms off the last lap. It screwed up the electronic timing system stats we'd all paid +$5 for in our entry fee. Example 2 - The country elite RR stats list the race as 111km, it was just over 96km. You can't compare ave speeds for Metros/Country either as everyone in the Metros morning session did the additional 5km on lap 1. Technology is great, until people get involved and change the course.... mid race!

In the Metro Elite Men's event Nathan Elliott (Charter Mason Drapac) took out an impressive win over 15 riders left at the end. The highlight of the day was at the presentations watching Nathan scramble for his phone to take a photo of Team Kosdown boss, Kos Samaras, standing on the podium for his win in MMAS3. This spoke volumes about the respect he has for the sport and those who support him.

Metros Full Results


I spoke to Ken Maddern from Castlemaine CC while feasting on the homemade goods on sale at the rego hall. He was keen to hear some feedback on the course. I let him know my thoughts (bring back the 56km loop!) and he took it all on board. There needs to be more of this. Rider consultation. Too often we have to eat what is put in front of us, whilst being told to suck it up and be thankful. I think there is room for riders to work with organisers to get the best of both worlds... this works for cyclocross very, very well.

Calder Park is a wasteland. A worn down monument to what once was. The grass is mowed, the facilities clean, that is where it stops. Everything needs a paint and the palm trees that once gave it that fake Daytona feel to the place look sick. It is Melbourne's very own 'back paddock' where things are put out of the way and forgotten about for years. Lucky we were only there for the tarmac, which is ok for bike racing.

Message sent loud and clear on Friday afternoon - "Any hint of moisture and we will not be racing". Saturday night was cold and wet so we all eagerly awaited the promised update at 7:45am Sunday morning....... it never came. The drag strip was not suitable for racing but the road parallel to it was kind of - ish - with a few obstacles detoured with witches hats and carpet over a metal grate. The support races soon slipped away from the start line, literally, with a few rider tumbles and reports of a wet and slippery surface. By the time the teams event started the track had dried out but the drag strip straight was still off limits.

Pic by Jo Upton -
With most clubs fielding a full squad, the start line attacks would have overtaken Lisa in her Honda Jazz if she wanted to go head to head with the peloton on the main straight. It was on! I was somewhere mid pack and could see the Charter Mason Drapac boys from Brunswick doing most of the damage. Onto the main straight we were in the gutter, weaving between witches hats, and dodging pot holes on the far left. Lap 2 much the same. Lap 3....ffuuuu this race was being ripped to bits. At some point I just missed the split and had to dig myself a hole to get back to the front group.

Coburg CC pre race discussion on tactics about bike racing and maintaining good mental health....
"So has everyone else left that Facebook group yet? What a head crack!"
Shannon Johnson (Preston/Charter Mason Drapac) took sprint 1. The much anticipated counter attack/break from sprint 1 went. About 10-12 of us in it. Most teams with two riders in it, Hawthorn (James Gray) and Coburg (me) with one. Johnson made it into the early break/selection for Preston and took the 2nd sprint from David Kelly (SKCC/Total Rush). Gray (HCC) wasn't playing nice and was rolling off the front of the break causing disruption to the work being done on the front to keep the main field from closing us down. Nathan Elliott (Brunswick/Charter Mason Drapac) was having none of this and attacked solo. I jumped away with David Kelly and 1/2 a lap later the three of us were building a lead from the original break. Johnson, Gray, along with James Butler (Sunbury/John West) and a few others looked to be chasing but didn't make any ground on the three of us up the road.

If you asked me on the start line to pick two riders to be in a break with, I'd have chosen Elloitt and Kelly. Both riders who don't shy away from time trials, both honest riders who'll rip turns and make sure a breakaway works. Elloitt is in the best form I've ever seen, and Kelly is a steam train who took on the field at Phillip Island solo and won a few weeks back. 

MC Brendan Bailey from on the job. This guy is a big force
behind the new and massively popular cyclocross scene. We need more people like him in the sport!

Kelly ripping a turn.

My turn....

Elliott in trouble...!?!  Hold that wheel EDOG!
Only kidding... He was never in trouble. Here is EDOG ripping his fair share of work.

With two intermediate sprints left (points for first 3) plus the ever important final sprint with points from 10 down to 1, I can not confirm or deny any discussion was had between us. It may have appeared we were working together..... but looks can sometimes be deceiving... or in this case, correct. If we attacked each other for the sprints there was a chance we'd get pulled back by the chasing group, or the main bunch, and miss out on the final points haul. Smooth turns it was all the way to the finish line, keeping an eye on the chasing group which was down to five... and also the main bunch.

If I could snag at least 3rd on the line that'd be 10 points all up for Coburg, which might be enough to bump us into the top 3? On the final straight I had to swing my elbow to get Elliott to come off my wheel for the sprint, he left it so late I thought I might be in for a chance myself.. :)  Elliott took the final sprint by about a length over Kelly, who secured 2nd in all five sprints!

Brunswick took home the win, with SKCC 2nd, and Johnson locking in 3rd for Preston. Coburg in 4th. Bugger. If we'd done the math on the road we might have been able to shuffle the points sharing into something more favorable, but the strongest team and strongest rider won it on the day.

Brunswick CC - Winners!

Full Results

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