Windy and Wild, The Bend Hosts Fastest Round Of Super Series… ever?

October 23, 2020

Words by James Raison, Photos by Andy Rogers/@fameandspear

Round 5 of the Super Series was contested at a new location in Tailem Bend (and certainly a novel one) at The Bend Motorsport Park.

The race was fought on the GT Circuit layout of The Bend and its 7.7km length and 35 corners were full of challenges for the bike racing punters. One could expect pancake smooth surface and wide-radius corners designed for motorsport to make for an easy race but that was far from the reality. It was a stark contrast to the previous round in Moonta where riders were surging through 4 right-angle turns.

The ever-present challenge in that region is wind, which strengthened significantly during the day giving riders a hearty shove in the back down the main straight and arresting their progress on other parts of the track. The world-class motorsport circuit’s sheer vastness proved challenging too. The wide, sweeping, and constant turns made positioning important because moving up on the outside meant covering much more distance. Within the bunch, riders had a strange sense of track geography with so much space making it hard to navigate the bunch at times.

One thing’s for sure; it was fast out there. Marble-smooth and gently undulating meant riders were on the power for all of their respective distances. Elite men would average a spicy 44-45 kph for their 115 km distance. Let’s dive into the racing then!

HOW THE RACES WERE WON

CATEGORY 3 WOMEN took the line with a small field of 7. That meant each of the intrepid women would spend plenty of time with their nose in the wind. The race ended in a bunch sprint and each rider was handed equal time.

Carly Bryant hit the line first, followed closely by Virginia Riches and Naomi Feder. 

CATEGORY 3 MEN made also their return to the series after pausing over the Copper Coast weekend. The grade has swelled substantially since the 2019 Super Series with 37 riders taking The Bend’s start line. An individual grade rather than the team grades of Cat 1&2 means thus race was everyone for themselves, though local grassroots collective MOOD were out in force with plenty of pink and blue jerseys in the mix. 

Harry Snodgrass and Ryan Kirby found a small gap to the chasing field during the final lap with Kirby instigating the move and Snodgrass crossing. The two held on to the line and Snodgrass managed to squeak past Kirby to take the win. Jacob Koop used his track cycling kick to edge out the main field and take third.

The series lead was taken by Bradley Macdonald after scoring points at both contested rounds to date (1 and 5), and Scaife missing out on points at The Bend.

CATEGORY 2 WOMEN again served up some seriously tight racing. Celia Cowan (Keystone Cycling) had a perfect winning record heading into The Bend and comfortably wears the Maxima/SCODY General Classification jersey.

Cowan’s Keystone Cycling team were very active on the front of the race, as were challengers Butterfields Racing who were supporting their fast finisher and overall series second place Madeleine Steele. Norwood CC and Team Scyon Racing were far from passive, supporting Anoushka Sath and Tia Slama respectively. The group mostly stayed together for the full distance but the closing couple of laps began to punish tired legs and riders began to drop off. The long sprint to the line saw a furious contest between Cowan, Meg Marker (Butterfields Racing), and Maddie Steele with the trio gapping the rest of the field in the final surge. They’d finish in that exact order, with Cowan too strong for Marker and Steele. Butterfields Racing again put in an impressive team showing and filled positions 2-4.

Celia Cowan extends her series lead over the Butterfields Racing duo Maddie Steele and Sue Woodwiss.

The vast CATEGORY 2 MASTERS field was also out on track for the early timeslot and all but one team was thinking of how they could loosen Barnaby Grant’s (Port Adelaide CC) grasp on the Maxima/SCODY General Classification jersey. It would be a tough ask, with Grant showing consistent sprinting and The Bend giving a lengthy, straight run to the line.

The field was animated throughout, with team ROKiT Racing, the Norwood Red and Blue teams, and USG Racing Team each attempting to sneak off the front at various points during the race. The pack stayed remarkably compact though, with a small split appearing on the last lap caused by the fight for positioning. 

Tom Baxter (Norwood CC Blue) kicked hard enough and early for the line to have a long celebration before reaching the flag. It was a mighty finish. Barnaby Grant rolled through second and the consistent Alex Jarvis (Norwood CC Red) taking third. Grant would retain the overall lead, and even extend it over his closest rival Michael Davies (ROKiT Racing) who finished fourth on the day.

CATEGORY 2 MEN were part of the later session and their race would truly disintegrate as the afternoon winds made for tough racing. There was a sizable list of DNFs too with a mixture of field spread and an unfortunate crash claiming some riders.

It was difficult to keep the race order in mind as a large breakaway scooted away and riders regularly tried to cross only to be caught in the windy void. It was a Patrick-heavy breakaway as Patrick Shanahan (Adelaide Uni CC) and Paddy Sharrad (LLCC Pedla p/b GCC) formed a group with regular Norwood CC race animators Pat Galloway and Ryan Beaumont. Paul Wentrock (Van D’am Racing Development) and Thomas Rischmueller (Norwood CC Blue) were in the break too, sharing turns.

Sam Golding (Van D’am Racing Development) and Sam Beveridge (Norwood CC Red) teamed up to Sam-ify the Patrick party and executed a patient crossing to the lead group while the pack in arrears further vaporised in the brutal conditions.

The leaders worked well together and the canny Ryan Beaumont broke ahead to take the chequered flag with the subtlest win for the day. The lack of posting-up genuinely surprised those at the finish line who mistakenly thought Paul Wentrock in second place had won. Rischmueller hit the line third for Norwood. The remaining riders trickled through over the next 4 minutes.

Thomas Rischmueller’s sheer consistency so far sees him inherit the overall lead.

CATEGORY 1 MASTERS had a similar day to the Cat 2 Men, with the race segmenting early and substantially.

Team ROKiT Racing, Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo, Tonsley Village, and Keystone Cycling all managed to get strong riders into the breakaway. Series leader Matt Sparnon’s USG Racing Team / Coffylosophy team missed out on being present and so took over the pacemaking in the chase group. As the race wore on, the pack would settle the pace down with Sparnon’s main series rival Graeme Moffett (Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo) also in the bunch and the breakaway continuing to stretch their advantage.

Out front, 2019 Super Series winner JP Jacobs (ROKiT Racing) went full-send from his group and amassed an impressive gap. He’d hold on to win by 23 seconds over Dan Widera (Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo) and Andrew Friebe (ROKiT Racing). Riders would gradually trickle in until the main pack hit the start/finish straight. Sparnon, ever the racer, still put in a sprint to end.

Sparnon continues to wear the Maxima/SCODY General Classification jersey but Cameron Spears from Tonsley Village has snuck into second, 9 points behind Sparnon, with his 6th at The Bend. Graeme Moffett now trails Spears by a single point.

ELITE WOMEN also showed how a strong, multi-team breakaway can make for a very hard day on the bike in the bunch.

A 9-rider breakaway including Cycling Australia riders Alexandra Manly, Maeve Plouffe, Annette Edmonson, and Georgia Baker were joined by series leader Nicola Macdonald (Roxsolt Attaquer), Amber Pate and Chloe Moran of Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo, Jenny Macpherson (Butterfields Racing) and Britt Petersen from Norwood CC. That’s an absurdly strong break on a circuit that favours strength and the presence of so many teams meant the chasing pack had very few people willing to chase.

Individual riders Nat Redmond and Breanna Hargraves made attempts to get away from their group but all moves were quickly marked. They’re both fast finishers with potential to win sprints and thus were reigned in by diligent teammates of breakaway riders.

Alexandra Manly decided to go solo in the final laps, getting into a TT position and punching away from the group. She quickly accrued a substantial gap and would finish with a 49 second win and a deservedly long celebration to the line. Pate had tried to chase Manly down, and was marked by Plouffe who sprinted strongly to take second on the line. Edmonson and Moran put in the most entertaining sprint of the day, almost rubbing shoulders and throwing hard for the line with Moran winning by a small slice of wheel. Nicola MacDonald’s consistent finishing meant she’d retain the series lead heading into the Aldinga Beach Criterium.

ELITE MEN staged a race that was reminiscent of the Copper Coast Cup weekend with the same provocateurs blowing the race apart, and the same teams trying to prevent them from doing so.

Leigh Howard (ACT Mens Track Endurance) dropped the hammer early and formed a duo with teammate Kell O’Brien. Once they settled into time trial mode, smoothly swapping turns out front, there’s very little that can be done by the chasers. Their strength was simply too much and even the windy conditions weren’t enough to arrest their dominance at the front of the race. 

Behind, the chasing pack split repeatedly and more than half the starters would pull out before the chequered flag. Olivers Real Food Racing, Tonsley Village, and Butterfields – Insurance Advisernet p/b VD all used their strength and numbers to drive the pace hard, keeping the two leaders honest out front.

Rolling in to the finish together, a cramping Leigh Howard gave the race win to O’Brien, and stays atop the overall standings over Cameron Scott (Cycling Australia Academy) who took the bunch kick to finish third at The Bend. 

LOOKING AHEAD

The next round of the Super Series heads back to the seaside with the Dorito-shaped criterium course surrounding a block of cafes at Aldinga Beach. It’s the second year at the Aldinga Circuit with the sharp corners and sprint-heavy criterium making for spicy racing. We look forward to bringing all the action from there! Until then, enjoy the weekend’s rest.

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