Massive Masters 2 Grade Overshadowed By Sparnon’s Dominance

November 26, 2019 CyclingSA

A monster field took to the 2019 Super Series in Masters Cat 2, with 11 teams taking part across 8 rounds. By the end of the Series, with a handful of guest riders across the teams, the numbering topped out at 99 race numbers allocated; the most any Super Series grade has ever, or will ever have (more on that later).

It was obvious even from the team lists that this would be a fiercely contested grade, with the swollen ranks containing a range of local racers from those who were fixtures at VLCC’s Wednesday night crits, through to current State Road Champions in Darren Webb (MMAS4, Port Adelaide Cycling Club), and Craig Beddome (MMAS6, Harcourt Williams), and the talk of the town, 1996 Junior Team Pursuit World Champion Matthew Sparnon (USG Cycling).  When it came time to get the racing underway in the first round’s Mischief Brew Points Race, the results foreshadowed how the remainder of the Series would play out for this grade.

In that first race, an early break made up of Sparnon, Webb, ADX Depot’s Michael Davies and Norwood CC’s Raphael Christinat would get away at the first sprint. They would stay away for the remainder of the race, with Sparnon able to show a clean pair of heels to his breakaway companions at nearly every turn, cleaning up the majority of the points to be had.

A familiar sight throughout the 2019 Super Series – Matt Sparnon on the front. Photo: Chameleon Photography

The Round 2 Altitude Cycling & Fitness Team Time trial would prove the first and last time we’d see Sparnon off the podium for the remainder of the Series, with Team Envirosport – Titan Performance, Norwood CC and Team Scyon all going faster on the course than Sparnon’s USG Cycling. Christinat and fellow Norwood CC teammate James Hollamby were tantalisingly close to Sparnon’s GC lead, but it was to only go south for any chasers from there.

The Wallaroo Road Race often suits a breakaway, and so was the case with Masters 2 this year as Jo Fitton (Team Scyon), David Homburg (Norwood CC) and Michael Davies (ADX Depot) joined Matt Sparnon and splintered the bunch over 76km. With the top 3 at the Road Race going again at the Moonta Criterium, it was becoming clear that we had three men in contention for every podium to come – Sparnon, Davies, Fitton, in that order.

Sparnon spent his Series on the front of the bunch, shutting down anyone who threatened to break away. Photo: Chameleon Photography

From there, the back four criterium races at Vic Park XL, HALO Aldinga Beach, Murray Bridge and Unley Oval Reserve would see several riders take a shot at Sparnon in a race finish or an intermediate sprint, and be denied. 13 riders would contest intermediate sprints for points against Sparnon, but only one could manage to beat him to the line – ADX Depot’s Phil Crick at Murray Bridge. Sparnon finished the Series with 29 from a possible 30 points in the Adelaide Advanced Physiotherapy Sprint Classification, the next placed rider (Michael Davies, ADX Depot) managing just 5 points. By the time each race got to the line, Davies would find himself second to Sparnon in all but the final round, where that position was filled by Tonsley Village’s Michael Bryant. Davies would prove unbeatable in the Chateau Yaldara Over 50 Classification, taking 21 of a possible 21 points across the 2019 Super Series. Jo Fitton (Team Scyon) was unlucky to lose the third spot on the GC podium late in the Series to USG’s Phil Bray, with an elbow injury in Murray Bridge leaving him without the opportunity to contest at Unley Oval.

Photo: Chameleon Photography

With USG Cycling and ADX Depot tying up the top two points-earning opportunities for much of the Series, only strength in numbers in the minor placings could help any of the other teams find their way to Teams Classification glory, but it was not to be. Sparnon’s USG Cycling found themselves scooping up points left, right and centre through Phillip Bray, Sam Jeffries and Jason Rowland, enough to stave off ADX Depot in the second spot on Team points. Norwood managed a respectable third place in the Teams Classification, with 5 riders in the top 15 overall: Hollamby, Christinat, Stephen Maney, David Homburg and last year’s winner, Tom Baxter. Matt Sparnon would wind up the Series with 7 from 7 individual round wins, 9 from 10 intermediate sprint wins, and enough GC points to come 4th in the grade on his own.

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