National Cyclocross Series – Round One
Posted by auscxmag
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words: auscxmag photography: Fame & Spear, Riding Focus
Round One of the 2014 Australian National Cyclocross Series was held at same facility as the 2013 National Championships; Cranwell Park in northern Melbourne. With some rain showering Melbourne in the lead up to the weekend, racers and spectators were greeted with a mild and breezy day.
The course set for the days racing was a vast improvement of last year’s course. The start/finish area made use of the road which was closed to traffic for the day, and although there were no distinguishing technical features, the use of the park was much better, yielding a better flow across the side of the hill for riders. This did not mean the course was in any way easy. Twice each lap riders reach the bottom of the park and were directed straight back up the hill at very steep grades. Two sets of stair climbs featured as well as a barrier run towards the top of the course.
In the elite women’s race 21 starters took the line and due to missing the 2013 National Series the current Australian champion Lisa Jacobs was seeded on the second row of the grid. Other favourites to take the win in round one included Australian representative Melissa Ansett, Commonwealth Games selected athlete Tory Thomas, in form Victorian rider April McDonough and current number one ranked rider Sarah Holmes of South Australia.
Lisa Jacobs was strong from the gun, by the time the leaders had climbed the first hill on course Jacobs was in the lead with Ansett, McDonough, Thomas and Penny Hosken close behind. By the time Lisa Jacobs had passed the start/finish line after the first lap, she had already gained a six second lead over April McDonough in second and Melissa Ansett in third. From here the places would not change over the duration of the 45 minute race with Jacobs riding a strong race showing smooth skills through every corner of the course to eventually extend her lead to a comfortable one minute and nineteen seconds to again take a win at Cranwell Park. April McDonough rode an impressive ride for second with an aggressive style and amazing control of her bike. Mel Ansett rode a consistent race to comfortably hold third place over Tory Thomas in fourth and Penny Hosken in fifth.
The Elite men were called to the start line and for round one of the 2014 National Cyclocross Series 55 men took lined up. After various cyclocross races happening in most states around Australia racers and spectator were more than curious to find out how riders would stack up against their competitors from other states. Victorians Adrian Jackson, Paul Redenbach, Lewis Rattray and current national champion Allan Iacuone would compete against a host of team Focus Bikes Australia riders from South Australia as well as NSW riders Nick Both, Garry Millburn, Sid Taberlay and Chris Aitken. In short, it was the most competitive national cyclocross field ever assembled.
There was much anticipation on the start line as the gathered crowd wondered who would get the holeshot. The gun went off and as is now tradition in NSW Garry Millburn rocketed off the line to turn the first corner clear and signal his intentions for the national series. Behind Millburn elbows were sharp and there was plenty of jostling for position. By the time the lead group had reached the barriers on the first lap Chris Jongewaard had taken the lead and was stretching the field out with the pace he was setting. As the field rode the second lap of the race a front group of three had formed including Jongewaard, Allan Iacuone and Adrian Jackson. Another four man chase group was close behind including Paul Redenbach, Garry Millburn, Lewis Rattray and Chris Hamilton. After four laps the lead group had shed Jackson as Jongewaard and Iacuone pushed ahead together testing each other to try and find any weaknesses. Jongewaard is an experienced racer and a dangerous tactician and constantly attacked Iacuone. But the national champion is equally experienced and kept a poker face for the entire race as he responded to all attacks. On the second last lap the two leaders were still together at the barriers when Iacuone dismounted to hop the barrier and Jongewaard bunny hopped, attacked and gained a slight advantaged which appeared to be the winning move of the race. Iacuone eventually caught back onto the wheel of Jongewaard and at the bottom of the final climb Jongewaard again attacked with less than 500 metres to go in the race. Iacuone responded to the attack by holding Jongewaard’s wheel and when the pair reached the paved section of the climb Iacuone attacked with such ferocity that Jongewaard was unable to respond leaving Iacuone to savour another win in front of a home crowd at Cranwell Park. Chris Jongewaard rolled across the line shortly after also clearly happy with his efforts. Under 23 rider Chris Hamilton overtook Adrian Jackson during the race to take third while Jackson had to settle for fourth and Paul Redenbach rode a consistent race for fifth.
Both Lisa Jacobs and Allan Iacuone repeated their efforts of the same venue in amazing performances that must be admired and congratulated. Round two of the National series was to be held the very next day hosted by Dirty Deeds Cyclocross Series at Darebin Parklands.