“Don’t look down, cos if you do, you won’t see what’s in front of you” so The Undertones sang in 1979 . Little did this seminal Ulster band of the 70s know that they would be predicting the outcome of the feature race at Dirty Deeds Round 1. But more of that later.
Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 25th May, 2014. Harrison Street is the spiritual home of DDCX and CX racing in Melbourne. Those magnificent DDCX crew again, and I stress again, lived up to their own high standards. The course, the race management, the volunteers made for a great day of racing. A big thank you to Race Director Blakey, Chief Commissaire Mr David (no 80% rule over my dead body) Morgan, and all the other volunteers, organisers, and sponsors without whom there would be no CX racing in Melbourne. Entries for DDCX Race 1 closed a few days before Sunday with the “full house” sign up. People love their CX and want to race. That is what DDCX does so well. Giving the great unwashed CX racer what they want. Whether you are in A grade or it is your first CX race you will get CX pain face and a lot of fun.
All the big hitters were out to play. Allan Iacoune, Adrian Jackson, Pau Redenbach, Lewis Ratray, Danny Kah, Liam Jeffries, Russell Collett. A great race was anticipated
by the large and knowledge crowd of over 400, and a great race is what they got. As boys will be boys and DDCX will have a hairpin corner 50 metres after the start there will be the enviable bumping and elbowing. Today was no different. Warrick Leach was the main loser from some pretty dodgy moves by a certain unnamed rider. Warrick’s rather unlucky start to the CX season got worse with a crash and a puncture causing him to miss 2 laps and a go at the podium.
After a fast and furious first lap of the 45 minute race the usual suspects were in the lead. A group of four containing Iacoune, Jackson, Redenbach, and Ratray had a small but growing gap over the chasing bunch. It was a rather tactical battle over the mid section of the race with none of the big favourites (go on, say it in a Sean Kelly accent) able to gain a gap over the others.
Gradually Ratray was dropped leaving Iacoune, Redenbach, and Iacoune to fight it out for the win. With the three leaders safely climbing Pavil’s Hill for the last time it was game on. Out around the back of the course no one could gain an advantage. The race was set up for a three way sprint finis
h. Just what some tubulars with 25psi needed. Coming along the straight behind the velodrome it was Jackson then Iacoune then Redendach separated by only a wheel length.
Then the Undertones intervened, somebody looked down. Within a flash both Jackson and Iacoune were on the ground coming onto the velodrome. Who was responsible will be debated for many years but Redenbach was upright and not believing his luck. So from a near certain third Redenbach cruised the the last 100 metres home to victory. Jackson crossed in 2nd with Iacoune in 3rd. What a race. Minor places went to Ratray in 4th and Nick Morgan in 5th.
One of the most anticipated battles of the race did not happen. The Vellacot / Oliver / Czechowski battle was stymied by Oliver rolling a tub on the first lap and Czechowski flatting on the 5th. Vellacot decided to take on Leigh De Luca in the single speed challenge which De Luca won buy a large push.A the edge of the top 10 Sam Watson and Ross Wilkinson were having a ding dong race. Both were claiming illness and injury pre start. Ross used his new aero helmet (yes, an aero helmet in a cross race folks) to pip Sam by 10 seconds for 11th. An honourable mention for Nic Cotterill, DDCX, who finished 26th despite spending all day course building and general officiating. CX Wednesday is certainly working.
What a front row in the Women’s Race: Ladies CX National Champion Lisa Jacobs; Victorian Champ April McDonough, XCM National Champion Melissa Ansett, and serial podium finisher Amity McSwan. Also were a smattering of NRS / VRS road riders and a few of the usual DDCX suspects in the 36 starters.
After the usual warning from Mr Commissaire Morgan about no 80% rule in DDCX races (hurrah) the women were off. A few elbows appeared to be used on the first corner so the training with the boys is rubbing off. As the leaders left the velodrome for the first time it was Lisa, April, Mel, and Amity in the lead and extending. At the end of the first lap April
and Lisa had established a decent gap over Mel and Amity. This gap would not diminish for the rest of the race as unfortunately for Mel the race was only 30 mins not 6 hours long.
April had a lead of several seconds but Lisa was closing. Heading onto the last lap it was skinsuit to skinsuit with the crowd expecting a sprint finish to grace the old velodrome. But no, that was not to be. April had decided not to go head to head in a sprint with Lisa so on the last lap she launched a concrete attack thereby gaining a gap of several seconds. Lisa responded but it was not enough. With the velodrome in sight April was a couple of seconds ahead and barring a monumental disaster victory was assured. Disasters do not happen in Women’s DDCX racing so April crossed the line 6 seconds ahead of Lisa. Mel was a minute behind in third with Amity a further minute back in fourth. Penny Hosken finished fifth.
Silly braking manoeuvre of the day goes to Diane Nelson. With only the last corner onto the velodrome to negotiate to finish 10th Diane saw a monster that nobody else saw and came to a complete stop allowing Claire Michel to finish 10th.
Why would 57 apparently sensible gentlemen take to the start line for the Men’s B Grade Race. Probably because they didn’t want to race A Grade and missed the beady eye of Chief Handicapper Nic Cotterill or were promoted by the said Mr Cotterill from C Grade. Or possibly they were just honest about their grading.
This was a tight race as evidenced by 48 of the starters finishing on the same lap as the winner. Lucky for electronic timing from Metarace. After several laps Craig Peters and Mick Brown had established a gap over Ben Healy, Evan Armstrong, Harry Hanley and a few others. Peters went on to take the win by 7s from Brown. Armstrong won the sprint for 3rd over Hanley.
Judging by the cheers from Pavil’s Hill lots of competitors in this grade either need to learn how to negotiate steep up hill off camber climbs, or run, or just face the mocking of the large crowd.
Mens’ C / Open had 52 starters on a mix of CX bikes and MTBs for the 30 minute race. When Dave Morgan blows his whistle it means start, go, race etc. But not it appears in C Grade where Mr Morgan had to shout a few times to encourage the racers to actually race.
As the first barrier was in play on the opening lap it caused a few issues for those outside the top 10 allowing the leaders to get away. That said barrier also caused some issues for the MTBer who tried to bunny hop it. Needless to say the ensuing crash was one of the best of the day and should cause much embarrassment to the said MTBer. Remember, this is Cross and at DDCX the barriers are maximum height.
There were lots of pain faces through out the field on in the afternoon sunshine. Surely 30 minutes of racing cannot be that difficult but it is. At the end Duncan Murray won by 34s over Anthony Natoli and Michael Brill. Promotion looms for those three.
The Road to Glenties is paved with many good intentions and possibly a few novice CX races. So Chapeau to all those who were taking part in their first CX race or race of any kind. A notable CX newbie was Ado Barker lead singer and banjo player of Australia’s Irish super group Trouble in the Kitchen. If Cross is reaching into musical talent where next? Ado finished a commendable 10th in his first ever bike race.
Why would 55 kids want to race in the Kids CX race. Because it is fun might be the answer. James Mountain took the boys race from Adam Boyd and Felix Davies. Maya Natoli took out the girls race narrowing beating Mae Czechowski into 2nd with Talia Marton-Zergel coming in 3rd. The balance bike race was close but too confusing for this reporter to get the results. PS – this race report was first published on Australian CX Magazine website.
Paddy Oliver Behind the Barricades http://behindthebarricades.net
Photos by Andy Rogers, Fame & Spear