The short format Super Series Criteriums created some incredibly exciting racing, with hard and fast events across all three of the night’s races. With several superstars of the sport lining up, the crowds were treated to some nail-biting finishes. The Elite Men averaged over 49.5 km/h in the perfect racing conditions.
The Elite Masters kicked the nights racing off. Not content to sit in the bunch, Tom Wright of the new Keystone Cycling Team led the charge off the front of the peloton. His efforts were not completely to no avail; as he managed to jag the most aggressive award for the evening. With tight tussles in all of the classifications, the bunch was not keen to let anything get too far up the road. The two intermediate sprints saw identical results. Matt Dorian (Lightsview Cycling) took out both, giving him 6 points for the night, putting him one point clear of Nils Wartemann (Bicycle-Express-BMW) and into the lead of the Sprint Classification.
The stage honours went to Tim Decker, who led home a Lightsview 1-2-3, with teammates Craig Yates and Cameron Spears joining him on the podium. Decker, who finished second in the opening round, moved up to first in the general classification and in doing so taking the Scody Leaders jersey.
Sam Welsford started the night as the big favourite. After taking Stage One of the Super Series, and multiple stages of the criterium based ‘Tour Of Gippsland’, the world champion wouldn’t have it all his own way. His Olympic teammate Alex Edmondson lining up for his first round of the 2017 Super Series after spending the year racing in Europe with the Orica-Scott Pro Team.
Despite an aggressive start to proceedings, it took till after the second sprint for a move to go clear. Five riders forged off the front led by SASI Cycling’s Josh Harrison. Harrison, who was awarded the most aggressive for the stage, was joined by up and comer Tristan Saunders riding for Cervelo-Oliver’s Real food Racing, Matthew Gassner of Lightsview, and two Mitchelton-Scott riders. One of those was Jordan Kerby who extended his lead in the sprint classification.
Despite building up a promising lead, the break was to be denied by a charging bunch led by Van D’am Racing p/b Butterfields and Focus-Attaquer. True to form, Welsford took the round win and reclaimed the leader’s jersey in the process.
With a slightly reduced bunch with several prominent riders away on national team duties, the race presented as a perfect opportunity for an upset from one of the smaller teams.
The race stayed mainly together over the first 10 minutes of the 40-minute, race despite the efforts of many to escape the clutches of the bunch. Alexandra Manly, riding for SASI Blue, took the first of the two intermediate sprints. It was not long after this that the experienced former series winner Jenny Macpherson broke free of the chasing bunch. MacPherson took maximum points on sprint two as she forged her solo move.
In what was a heart-stopping finale, MacPherson was overhauled by up-and-coming superstar Maeve Plouffe who took the win in a perfectly timed sprint. MacPherson’s efforts weren’t for nothing, as she secured a podium spot along with Most Aggressive for the round.
Young-gun Plouffe also took the lead in the young riders competition, while current yellow jersey leader Breanna Hargrave of SASI extended her lead in the overall series classification by taking the final podium spot.
Full results can be found HERE
The series moves to the Copper Coast for the next two rounds. The iconic 80km road race this Saturday is followed by a new criterium circuit in Moonta on Sunday. Riders will need skill, strength and a whole lot of luck if they want to keep pace with their rivals over the two packed days of racing.