Cyclocross bikes and spectators enjoy Australia’s brutal winters. © Andy Roberts, Fame & Spear
The magnificent Dirty Deeds Cyclocross crew once again lived up to their high standards. The course, the race management, and the volunteers all contributed to a great day of racing. Cyclocross racing in Melbourne wouldn’t exist without the efforts of race director Blakey, commissionaire David Morgan, and all the other volunteers, organizers, and sponsors.
Entries for DDCX Race 1 closed a few days before Sunday with a full house sign up, and Dirty Deeds once again gave the great unwashed ‘cross racer what they wanted. Elite racers and first-timers alike displayed their best pain faces and had a lot of fun.
The Australian grass gets its first taste of rubber this season at DDCX. © Andy Roberts, Fame & Spear
Men’s A Race:
“Don’t look down, cos if you do, you won’t see what’s in front of you,” the Undertones sang in 1979. Little did this seminal Ulster band know, they would be predicting the outcome of this feature race at Dirty Deeds Race 1.
All the big hitters were out to play: Allan Iacoune, Adrian Jackson, Paul Redenbach, Lewis Ratray, Danny Kah, Liam Jeffries, Russell Collett. A crowd of over 400 spectators expected a thrilling race, which was exactly what they got.
DDCX displayed all the familiar tricks, including a hairpin corner 50 meters after the start which encouraged bumping and elbowing. Warrick Leach was the main loser from some pretty dodgy moves. Warrick’s rather unlucky start to the cyclocross season got worse with a crash and a puncture causing him to miss two 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. The middle laps of the race turned into a tactical battle with none of the favorites able to gain a gap over the others. Gradually, Ratray was dropped, leaving Iacoune, Redenbach, and Iacoune to fight it out for the win.
The race grew fierce with the three leaders safely climbing Pavil’s Hill for the last time. No one gained an advantage on the back side of the course, and the race came down to a three-way sprint finish, which is exactly what 25 PSI-pumped tubulars needed. Jackson, Iacoune, and then Redendach, all separated by a wheel length, came around from behind the velodrome.
Then the Undertones intervened: somebody looked down. Within a flash, both Jackson and Iacoune crashed as they came onto the velodrome. Responsibility for the accident will be debated for many years, but Redenbach, not believing his luck, was the last man standing. From a likely third-place finish, Redenbach cruised the last 100 meters to the finish line. Jackson crossed in second with Iacoune in third.
Minor places went to Ratray in fourth and Nick Morgan in fifth.
The spectators anticipated a Vellacot, Oliver, and Czechowski battle, but this was stymied as Oliver rolled his tubular on the first lap and Czechowski flatted 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 ten, Sam Watson and Ross Wilkinson were having a ding dong race. Both were claiming illness and injury before the whistle. Ross, equipped with a new aero helmet, led Sam by 10 seconds for 11th.
An honorable mention for Nic Cotterill, DDCX, who finished 26th despite spending all day course building and general officiating.
A lone jeer or possibly words of encouragement at DDCX’s power section. © Andy Roberts, Fame & Spear
The front row of the women’s race included National Champion Lisa Jacobs (whose Apollo Arctec CX bike can be found here); Victorian Champ April McDonough, XCM National Champion Melissa Ansett, and serial podium finisher Amity McSwan.
After the usual warning about the no 80% rule in DDCX races, the women were off. A few women used their elbows on the first corner. 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 remain for the rest of the race. Unfortunately for Mel, who is better known as an endurance athlete, the race was only 30 minutes instead of 6 hours. April had a lead of several seconds, but Lisa closed in. As flashes of skinsuits tried outpacing each other on the final lap, the crowd expected a sprint finish to grace the old velodrome, but such a finale was not to be. April avoided going head-to-head in a sprint, and on the last lap, she launched an attack, gaining a gap of several seconds. Lisa responded, but her attempt came up short.
April crossed the line six seconds ahead of Lisa. Mel was a minute behind in third with Amity a further minute back in fourth. Penny Hosken finished fifth.
Men’s B Race:
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 the A Grade and missed the beady eye of Chief Handicapper Nic Cotterill. Or perhaps they were promoted by said Mr Cotterill from C Grade. The only other option could be that they were honest about their abilities.
The Men’s B was a tight race: 48 of the 57 starters finished on the same lap as the winner. Lucky the race used electronic timing from Metarace.
After several laps, Craig Peters and Mick Brown established a gap over Ben Healy, Evan Armstrong, Harry Hanley and a few others. Peters went on to take the win by seven seconds 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 crowd’s jeers.
Disc brakes and flat bars make an appearance as racers find their legs after the off-season. © Andy Roberts, Fame & Spear
Men’s C Race:
The Men’s C/Open Race had 52 starters on a mix of CX bikes and MTBs, and lasted for 30 minutes. Although Dave Morgan blew his whistle, which usually means “start,” “go,” or just plain “race,” he had to shout a few times to encourage some of the riders to move. The first barrier on the opening lap caused a few issues for those outside the top 10, and allowed the leaders to get away.
The DDCX barriers, set at maximum height, created a rough crash for a particularly brave mountain biker attempting to bunny-hop it.
Lots of painful faces were on display beneath the afternoon sunshine, showing how difficult it can be to endure a 30 minute race.
Duncan Murray won by 34 seconds over Anthony Natoli and Michael Brill, and all three gentlemen must be expecting a promotion in racing grade in the near future.
The Road to Glenties is paved with many good intentions, and possibly a few novice cyclocross races. So ‘chapeau’ to all those who were taking part in their first ’cros race or race of any kind. Ado Barker, lead singer and banjo player of Australia’s Irish super group Trouble in the Kitchen, displayed his ‘cross talents for the first time, and he finished a commendable 10th.
55 riders took to the start in the Kids’ Race. James Mountain won the boys’ race over Adam Boyd and Felix Davies. In the girls’ race, Maya Natoli narrowly beat Mae Czechowski, with Talia Marton-Zergel coming in third. The balance bike race was close, and too confusing for this reporter to get the results.
Stay tuned to cxmagazine.com for more cyclocross racing action in Oz!
This race report was written by Paddy Oliver and originally published on Australian Cyclocross Magazine (not to be confused by Cyclocross Magazine). You can follow his blog, Behind the Barricades, at behindthebarricades.net