Newcastle Cyclocross Round 1
Posted by auscxmag
Posted in News
words: auscxmag photography: www.ridingfocus.com
The Australian Cyclocross season unofficially started on Sunday with round one of the Cyclocross Newcastle Series. The region had seen it’s fair share of wet weather in the week leading up to the race giving plenty of people hope for a muddy race although conditions on the day were reasonably dry and there was sadly no mud to contend with on course – apart from one small man made pit on ‘canteen corner’.
The course was set around the Newcastle velodrome and course designer Anthony Lloyd-Jones had packed a lot of features into the small area available. A very technical course was set with good use of the grass embankment giving a series of hairpin corners and short pinch climbs. One such climb featured two log barriers, another two climbs had a telegraph pole sized log at the base. The section before getting to canteen corner was especially challenging with a mud pit on the climb – though riders were rewarding for their efforts by the large tunnel of noise at the top from slightly rowdy spectators lined up near the DJ tent. A lap of the velodrome was also completed with a spiral thrown in for good measure.
Atmosphere is always great at the Newcastle events and Sunday was no different. There was coffee flowing all day, a sausage sizzle and special made ice-cream to be eaten with plenty of racing to watch.
One of the many steep run-ups
The first race of the day was Division Two which was for anybody who wanted to give Cyclocross a try, but did not have a specific bike. There was a healthy showing of 30 riders and competition at the front was fierce from the gun. Bryan Dunkin and Blake Polverino battled each other for the entire race often swapping the lead. On the final lap as they entered the spiral the crowd erupted in cheers to which they responded and a sprint finish around the velodrome which gave Bryan Dunkin the win with an excellent move on the outside.
The decisive move in Division 2
Next event was for the junior riders, with two separate races for kids. The smaller riders completed a modified course within the velodrome followed by a full course version for the older kids. It was great to see so many future stars giving it a crack with a healthy number showing for each category.
The final race of the day was Division One, which was billed to be a battle between NSW state champion Nick Both, 2013 series winner Garry Millburn and local talent Chris Aitken. Unfortunately Nick Both was unable to attend for personal reasons and Garry Millburn fell ill the night before and did not attend. There were still approximately 25 starters including young Focus bikes rider Michael Potter, Australian representative Nick Smith as well as former Olympian Oenone Wood contesting the ladies category.
Chris Aitken in class of his own
A fast start was ensured by the announcement of a $100 purse for the holeshot and the racers did not disappoint. Chris Aitken, Michael Potter and CX Newcastle’s Shannon Lister all contested but it was Michael Potter who took the purse as Shannon Lister crashed in the first corner. From here Aitken rode reasonably conservative for the first lap before opening up over the next two laps and putting a one minute and twenty second lead on second place which would not be closed for the rest of the race. Aitken’s display of fast and technical riding where he was not required to dismount his bike was impressive and he definitely deserved the win. Michael Potter held his position of second for the remainder of the race, and the real battle was for third place between Danny Hennessy, Phillip Gray and Nick Smith. Finishing strongly over the final laps was Nick Smith who eventually rode to third place. This meant the average age of the men’s podium was below twenty!
In the women’s Oenone Wood rode a consistent race to take the win from Lizanne Wilmot. It was good to see these two ladies battle it out and also give some of the men a lesson on how to ride strongly.
Oenone Wood with great form in the spiral
A big thankyou must go to the team at Cyclocross Newcastle for putting on such a fun day with great racing and plenty of atmosphere. Round Two will return to the velodrome on June 8 and promises to be more of the good fun people have come to expect.
For more great images of the day, be sure to head to ridingfocus.com as Josh has some stunning shots that will soon be up on his photo blog.