Over 30 members of the Peel District Cycling Club made the trip north to Gnangarra for the 3rd round of The Ring Criterium series. The circuit has only been used for racing once before, so it was new experience for most of the 200 riders racing.
The 1.1 kilometre circuit consists of two 90 degree corners and a big loop, all on new roads, so it is a very fast. It would of been faster if not for the solid southerly which hit you in the face as you came out of the second corner and battled into the headwind until you swung round and rode for the finish line with a tailwind. A fast flowing circuit with strong winds is always going to make it difficult for a breakaway.
With the first two place getters of the first two rounds of the under 13 missing, it gave a chance for other riders to shine. Fraser Bytheway took it with both hands, riding away from everybody on the first lap to take the win. The chase behind was disrupted by the wind and you had riders spread across the course. Cooper Hiscox worked hard to finish second and Luca Woods was third.
Men’s D grade, set the standard for the races to follow. Riders would attack, get a small gap, tire themselves punching into the wind and get pulled back by the pursuing bunch. The higher the grade, the longer the attackers stayed off the front. No D grade attacker managed a lap off the front. It was always going to be a bunch sprint which was won by Peel’s Nicholas Tan, with Richard Reeves second and Anthony Rieck third.
This week saw the last combined Women’s C and D grade race. From next week, Women’s B, C and D will race on the circuit at the same time, separated at the start. D grade was won this week by Hannah Waters, who stuck with the C grade riders and surprised all of D grade in the sprint. Heather Connan was second and Anastasia Taylor in her first race was third.
Women’s C was the same as last week, a single rider managed to hold onto B grade and take the win and promotion to B grade, this week it was Rebecca Kelly. The remaining riders worked well together, there were attacks, but nobody was strong enough to get away, in the sprint for minor placings it was Katherine Byrne taking out the sprint for second, with Emily Wiggins third.
Women’s B saw the first effective breakaway of the day, Danica Wiggins, Sarah Tucknott and Louise McKay got clear and stayed away for a few laps. Until Wiggins punctured and had to take a lap out to get a spare wheel. The bunch sensing their chanced closed in, when Wiggins rejoined they had lost most of their lead. A lap later and the group was altogether. A few laps later the same trio Wiggins, Tucknott and McKay were off the front again, They were caught with two laps to go. The bunch sprint showed how strong the breakaway was with Wiggins taking first, McKay second and Prudence Butler third.
Men’s C grade saw a number of attacks, some riders manage to get off the front and stay out the front for a couple of laps. Though it was pretty disheartening, when the looked back to the bunch strung out in single file, chasing hard. In the bunch sprint it was Anthony Preston first, Mitchell Lees second and Simon Breheny third.
Women’s A grade was missing Erin Kineally who dominated the last two rounds. This meant more riders believed they had a good chance and tried to control of the race, chasing down every attack. The result was attack, chase hard, catch. slow, recover, repeat. A bunch sprint was never in doubt, it was Melissa Robinson first, Emily Mascaro second and Natalie Britz racing her first A grade race third.
Men’s B grade, saw 45 riders take to the start line. It was faster and more frantic than previous races. There was always riders attacking and other riders willing to chase hard. In the bunch sprint it was Aron Barclay first, Brett Stapleton second and Simon Winston third.
The men’s A grade race was packed full of stars, Cameron Meyer multiple world champion on the track and former World tour rider, his brother Travis Meyer, ex world tour and now with Drapac, Ben O’Connor world tour rider with Dimension Data, Michael Freiberg track world champion, Stephen Hall, Guy Kalma, and many more including. five Satalyst Giant riders. With such a quality field the race was always going to be attacking and fast. race.
There were attacks, breaks formed, hard chasing, breakaways caught and counter attacks. It was a fluid and entertaining race and in the bunch sprint it was Stephen Hall taking the win, Cameron Meyer second and Travis Meyer third.