National Cyclocross Series – Round 3 – Melbourne
Posted by auscxmag
Posted in News
words: Sean Couley photography: Allister Payne
The National series arrived in Melbourne over the past weekend which is possibly the heartland of Australian Cyclocross. Sunbury Cycling club or better know as Fields of Joy CX had left the home turf of Essendon Fields and were on tour at Cranwell Park in the Melbourne suburb of Braybrook for the weekend.
Arriving at the venue there slightly changeable condition with a tiny bit of drizzle and the temperature was a cool seven degrees. Very different from the high twenties experienced at the first two National Rounds. The course for the day was unlike any other previously used at Cranwell Park and utilised only the top half of the facility. This was a revelation as the course created was fun and flowing with lots of twists and turns that were challenging to master at speed at time as well as a few sections of mud and one steep pinch uphill that could be very tricky to ride at times.
During the first practice the course was very grippy making corners seem quite fast, but by the time the Masters Men 4 – 6 commenced racing conditions had become incredibly slippery. Many people were seen losing traction and hitting the deck. I encountered this in the next race featuring Masters Men 1 – 3, and found myself on the ground on four occasions. I can only describe some of the corners as like trying to ride a bike on an ice rink.
When time came for the Elite and Masters Women to be marshalled on the start line, the sun had started to shine and it warmed up to a balmy 12 degrees. Lisa Jacobs was again to start as outright favourite, though as we were in Victoria, there was more competition including April McDonough who was absent from the first two rounds. As the gun from the start sounded out though, it was the familiar sight of Lisa Jacobs leading the field into the first corner. Behind her there was a little more jostling and once the field spread over the course there was a three way battle for the minor placings of the day between Melissa Anset, April McDonough and Penny Hosken. Lisa Jacobs road a very impressive race doing just about all the little things perfectly as she stormed her way to another win over two minutes ahead of second placed Melissa Ansett, with Penny Hosken claiming third place.
Final race of the day was the Elite men, along with the Under 19 men’s event. It was a stacked field except for the notable omission of current Australian champion Chris Jongewaard who did not travel to Melbourne for the weekend of racing due to illness. Nerveless, racing was hot from the gun with Garry Millburn taking the holeshot and leading the field through the first turns and the barriers. It was not long until a lead group formed consisting of Millburn, along with Paul Van der Ploeg, Chris Aitken, Tom Chapman, Allan Iacuone and Paul Redenbach. This group extended their lead over most of the field, but at 20 minutes into the race Chris Aitken put in a devastating attack on the lead group to force a gap. From this moment, Aitkens gap never lever looked in danger as he extended his lead up to 25 seconds ahead of the lead chase group. With 3 laps to go the margin was reduced to 15 seconds, but Aitken again extended his lead to over 20 seconds as the chase group began racing each other for the minor placings. Chris Aitken took a fantastic first-ever national series victory, while behind the lead group had swelled to eight riders. Coming into the final pinch climb Garry Millburn forced his way to the front and got a clear run as there was some entanglement behind. Coming up the final road climb behind Millburn, Paul Van der Ploeg showed an impressive turn of speed but it was not enough to catch Millburn who claimed second place with Paul Van der Ploeg finishing in third.
The Under 19 race was another feature with the three junior representatives from this year’s Cyclocross world championships battling it out for the entire race. Noah Barrow got a fantastic start, but was caught by Tom Greene and then also Nick Smith. The three riders battled each other over the entire hour, until on the bell lap Noah Barrow crash coming off the start/finish straight leaving Tom and Nick to decide the race with a sprint finish, with Tom Greene narrowly claiming the win over Nick Smith in second. Noah Barrow finished the final lap to claim third.