Victorian Masters like their CX racing, even at Cranwell Park possibly the hardest CX course in the country. So on Saturday, 21st June 45 Masters Men (30+, 40+, 50+) and 8 Masters Women lined up for 40 minutes of extreme grassy hill repeats.
Masters Men 30+
Yes, you only have to be 30 years of age to race Masters but that doesn’t make it easy. After safely making it through the first corner the race was on. On the first lap there was a tight bunch of seven. Then Cranwell Park bit back whittling down this bunch to four then to two. These two being Nic Edwards and Paul Aubrey (BrewCX). Edwards had the better last lap winning the Masters 30+ title from Aubrey by 10 seconds. Steven Preston was third.
Masters Men 40+
The Veterans as they would be called overseas started one minute behind the young fellas. Masters 40+ was the biggest field and probably the most competitive. Unlike last year’s debacle this start was fair. Fresh from CX Wednesday training John Czechowski got the hole shot from another Wednesday wonder Paddy Oliver. The field made it through the first corner unscathed. It was then down the hill of doom. Czechowski made it first around the hill of doom hair pin with four chasing up the what seemed to be a 28.5% hill with not much grip due to the grass.
At the top of the course Mark Mos was leading this bunch of five. He extended his lead on the way down the hill and cycled off into the distance, not that this was exactly easy on Cranwell Park. Mos was never under any pressure for the rest of the race winning by 48 seconds from Ben Healy in second and Simon Knowles in third.
Cross being cross there were several major battles during the race. Healy vrs Knowles. Floyd vrs Czechowski. Kellett vrs Oliver . This battle was cut short when Oliver decided to dive into the barrier tape coming to an entangled stop with a stake post through his front wheel. Not the best move of the day Paddy. Later on there was a fantastic race between Woolcock, Hanely, Oliver and Rowbotham for 7th. Woolcock attacked on the remount after the last set of steps and held off the group to finish 7th.
Of note, Mos won finished first in both Masters races by over a minute despite Masters 30+ having a one minute start. In fact, according to the official timings only 3 Masters 30+ would have finished in the top ten in the Masters 40+ race.
Masters Men 50+
10 started in Masters Men 50+ which is testament to how appealing cross is for all ages. The racing was hard but not particularly close. Patrick Denis won convincingly from Stephen Munyard, with Baz McCormack in third.
Masters Women were combined and the eight women across the three divisions started 1 minute behind the Masters 50+ Men in a good use of the race course. The large and knowledgable crowd were expecting a battle between Bianca Pickett and Diane Nelson but Nelson didn’t start due to an injury. This left Pickett to dominate the 40+ division and the race overall.
Pickett won the 40+ from Jane Ollerenshaw. Trackie and Cross rider Bec Williamson rode well to win Masters 30+ from Shelly Green. Kirsten Theile was the only starter in Masters 50+ riding well in the overall race.
Overall, Cranwell Park was not tamed by the Masters. They tried hard but couldn’t defeat the monster that is the Cranwell Park course. One wonders how many more Masters would have started the VIC Masters Championship if the Elite races weren’t on directly after the Masters races. If you only count Masters 40+ around 15 riders started the Elite race who didn’t start their Masters Race. Approximately 25% of the Elite Men’s race were Masters 40+. There are no statistics for Masters 1 or 2 but one would suspect that at least 40% of the Elite Men were over 30.
Stupidity of the day goes to the three or four Masters (men and women) who started the Elite races as well as the Masters Races. Needless to say they didn’t last long and were saved by the 80% rule about 35 minutes in (not that I am advocating any use of the 80% rule outside UCI events).There is a rumour that after Alby’s convincing win at Cranwell Park, his 2nd in two attempts, that it will soon be renamed the “Allan Iacoune Memorial Park”.
Words by Paddy Oliver, Behind the Barricades
Photos by Diane Nelson
These words will also appear on Australian CX Magazine