The Ring criterium series returned to Smeaton Way circuit in Rockingham last Sunday with the largest number of riders to date. Over 230 took to the circuit, it could of been more, but numbers were capped per grade for safety reasons.
It was the strongest men’s A grade field seen at Smeaton Way, with Travis Meyer riding his second last race as a professional. Other professional cyclists included his brother Cameron Meyer, Stephen Hall, Anthony Giacoppo as well as up and coming riders like Jai Hindley and Guy Kalma.
It was fast race averaging over 45kph for almost an hour and very entertaining. With riders attacking, being brought back, other riders counter attacking. At one stage three riders had 200 metres gap over the bunch, with another group of three halfway across the gap. If the two groups had got together, it might of been race over for the main bunch. Instead the chasers just could not bridge the gap, one by one the tired and dropped back to the main bunch, which slowly closed the gap on the leading trio.
When the three were brought back, the bunch starting being more active, quickly chasing down riders. Just as it looked like it was going to be a bunch sprint and with lest that ten minutes to go there was suddenly a break of nine riders. The bunch was slow to react, the breakaway rode hard and established a gap of about 30 metres. This was not without cost as the breakaway shed riders, here was only seven riders on the bell laps and they shed another on the final lap. It was a well timed attack early on the finishing straight that saw Byrce Lannigan catch the others unaware and take victory. Leighton Cook was second and Conor Leahy third.
The racing started earlier in the day with the under 13s. The group held together for the first lap, from there it quickly broke apart and after a few laps, there was individuals spread around the course. With the exception of Ashton Sime and Cooper Hiscox in the lead. The pair worked to keep increasing their lead every lap. In the sprint to the line series leader Sime took the win, with Hiscox second and Jordan Williams the best of the chasers third.
The mens’ E grade, was the smallest field of the day, with only Tom Power and Simon Stolton taking to the starting line. The pair stayed together for the 20 minutes and two laps of their race, until the sprint to the line. Which saw Power take the win.
In comparison men’s D grade had almost 30 riders and the there attacks from the start. While riders managed to get away for a lap or two, there were plenty of riders willing to chase. It was always going to be a bunch sprint which was won by Richard Reeves, with Tim Boardman second and Anthony Rieck third.
Women’s D grade saw the bunch split early and three riders Isabella Commons, Heather Connan and Catherine Zainudin ride away. The three worked together to increase their lead. In the sprint it was Zainudin first, Commons second and Connan third.
Women’s C grade saw Kyla Gilbertson attack early and quickly establish a good gap, Olesya Badish set off in lone pursuit. While the bunch was unwilling or incapable of chasing the pair down. Gilbertson worked hard in the trying conditions to secure the solo win. Badish kept chasing for second and Emily Wiggins took out the bunch sprint for third.
With the promotion of a few women to A grade and a few new faces. B grade was a little more reserved than usual, as the riders tried to work out the new dynamics of the group. There was still a number of attacks, but there was always willing legs behind to chase them down. In the bunch sprint it was Louise Mckay first, Danica Wiggins second and Laura Hodges third.
The next race was the Little Critters race, with under 11s taking to the course for two laps of supervised racing. It is all about participation, though the speed that some of the young riders rode their bmx and mountain bikes, there are definitely some future stars there.
C grade men was another quieter than usual race, there was still attacks, chasing and counter attacks. The race seemed to lack the vigour of previous weeks, The finish did not, just as everybody was lining up for a sprint finish a late attack by Sam Nikora, saw him clear the pack and hold a small gap to the finish to take the win, with Jethro Nagle second and Simon Breheny third.
What a change a single rider can make to a race. A grade women, saw the return of Orica-AIS rider Jess Allen. Allen did most of the attacking, it was the intensity and frequency of these attacks that brought a number of riders undone. With less than ten minutes to go and only six riders in the front group, Allen punctured and had to take a lap out. On Allen’s return the dynamics changed again as it became about the sprint finish. In the end last week’s winner Melissa Robinson took the sprint, with Allen second and Emily Mascaro third.
The registrations closed early on Men’s B grade, with 50 riders nominating online by Wednesday. The racing was entertaining as the usual suspects attacked, got away and were chased down frequently. It was series leader Aron Barclay who has finished well from both breakaways and bunch sprint. position himself well in the run to the line and take out the bunch sprint for victory. With Richard Langsford second and Simon Winston third.
Next week see the Ring criterium series return to Tech Park for the final race of the year and Travis Meyer’s final race as a professional. For more information visit ringcritseries.asn.au