Overcast, Windy Aldinga Beach Criterium Makes For Great Racing Across The Board

November 3, 2020

While it wasn’t quite the still and sunny day at the beach some had been hoping for at Aldinga on Saturday, there was plenty to be happy about as the blustery conditions made for hard and heavy racing throughout the day. In what was the final ever day of Cycling South Australia before we transferred operations to the new, national entity in AusCycling on November 1, there was plenty of action all through the day’s racing for those who stuck around before or after their race, and for the locals who watched from their balconies and front lawns as the bikes whizzed past.

This year we were lucky to have the support of both the City of Onkaparinga and local, Mclaren Vale-based company MOJO Beverages! The Council helped us to be able to close the road down to facilitate the racing, and MOJO rewarded those who made it onto the podium with a much-needed cool beverage!

ABOUT THE COURSE

It was Super Series’s second trip to the three-cornered 1 km Aldinga esplanade course and one that strikes fear into the hearts of pedals everywhere. Some say the words “Dura” and “Ace” have been scoured into the tarmac at turn one. It’s hard to think of any individual corner that can make or break a race quite like this one across the Super Series. It’s an awkwardly acute angle, with a wider entry and narrower exit, with long straights either side of it. Those on the front can pick their line and set up for the back straight whereas those in the bunch and on the back have to rub elbows with people on a completely different line and then sprint full-gas to hold the back of the bunch.

The next turn comes hundreds of meters later with a right-angle chop onto a short straight before another 90 degree bend drops them onto the esplanade where a hefty tailwind shoves them to the start-finish line. A slow or sloppy first turn can be punished for the entire lap, and be enough to put riders out of the race. 

It’s a credit to everyone that no crashes happened at the first turn, although pedal strikes and barrier skims would cause many nervous inhales from spectators (and photographers sitting right in the firing line) all day. 

HOW THE RACES WERE WON

Category 2 Masters were first to clip in and send it for the senior races. The attacks began immediately with perennial escape artist Alasdair McLellan (Port Adelaide CC) scooting off the front for a few laps of solitude before getting reeled in by the bunch. The head of the race was certainly advantageous for the first straight but the immediate smack-in-the-face headwind made gaps hard to hold.

The pack began to splinter and spit riders out the back. Too many laps with full-gas sprints exiting turn one burned plenty out and the attrition reduced the pack constantly. Darren Hicks (Team Scyon Racing) managed to find space off the front with superb cornering. His speed and line through the critical first corner couldn’t be followed by anyone else. He formed a duo with Nick Underwood (ADX Depot) and the two of them would not be caught, despite the best efforts of the chasing Team ROKiT and Norwood CC. 

The long sprint to the finish line was won by Nick Underwood who pulled a gap on Hicks on the final straight who rolled through for a comfortable second place. Series leader Barnaby Grant (Port Adelaide CC) would again find himself winning the bunch gallop, taking third ahead of Alex Jarvis (Norwood CC Red).

Grant retains, and extends the series lead with another podium finish and will once again suit up Maxima/SCODY General Classification jersey with a sizable lead.

Maxima/SCODY GC Standings After Rd 4:

Barnaby Grant (Port Adelaide CC) – 92 points

Michael Davies (ROKiT Racing) – 72 points

Alex Jarvis (Norwood CC Red) – 65 points

Category 2 women got rolling next with the undefeated Celia Cowan (Keystone Cycling) wearing the Maxima/SCODY General Classification leader’s jersey and backed by her sizable Keystone Team. 

Keystone was aggressive early and Bron Dolman was clearly committed to establishing a break away. It was Meg Marker (Butterfields Racing) who finally managed to get some breathing room, and was quickly joined by Dolman. Celia Cowan showed her impressive engine, and total lack of interest in defensive racing, by springing from the group to cross the gap with the breakaway and the enviable position of already having a teammate there. Butterfields and Keystone’s remaining riders were absolved of the responsibility to chase at that point and the Norwood and Scyon squads took over to try and bring back the break.

The three leaders worked together cohesively, and an unfortunate touch of wheels caused a crash in the chasing group. That unsettled their momentum enough to all-but end their chances to close down. Dolman worked hard to set Cowan up for the final sprint to the line but in a reversal of last round’s finish it was Meg Marker who came over the line first, ending Cowan’s undefeated run in her first Super Series.

Maxima/SCODY GC Standings After Rd 4:

Celia Cowan (Keystone Cycling) – 98 points

Meg Marker (Butterfields Racing) – 68 points

Madeleine Steele (Butterfields Racing) – 60 points

The ever-entertaining Category 2 Mens were next to throw themselves at the Aldinga Dorito track, and the déjà vu from Tuesday night Norwood B-grade crits kicked in immediately. Max Hardy (Norwood CC RED) was first to gap the pack for some solo laps off the front, and the whole race was an exhibition of the depth of this grade’s talent with rival teams trading blows for the entire races. 

Norwood CC Red took multiple flyers off the front, and behind LLCC Pedla p/b GCC with Adelaide University CC worked to close them down. Norwood CC Blue made sure to protect their GC leader Thomas Rischmueller, who had a handy lead coming into this round.

It came down to a sprint finish and Tom Clarke (LLCC Pedla p/b GCC) again unleashed his unrivalled wattbomb to cross the line first. Shaun O’Callaghan (Van D’am Racing Development team) bagged a second place and solo rider Michael Wellman crossed third. It’s shaping up as an interesting contest as the series enters the final two rounds. Clarke has been dominant in sprints but Rischmueller has been consistent and scored points at every round, and it will be interesting to see just who is left at the pointy end of this weekend’s hilly Gawler Eastlink Kermesse.

Maxima/SCODY GC Standings After Rd 4:

Thomas Rischmueller (Norwood CC Blue) – 64 points

Tom Clarke (LLCC Pedla p/b GCC) – 54 points

Michael Wellman – 54 points

Category 1 Masters ran to a very similar script as their race at The Bend with high speed making for a high attrition rate. By race end, nearly half the starters were watching from the sidelines. The wind began to strengthen during the morning and coming into the afternoon session it would play a massive role in the remaining three races of the day.

Attacks began immediately from familiar faces trying to form breakaways. Solo rider Gary Smith and ROKiT Racing’s Jarrod Currie were again showing a willingness to take a gamble early on. Splits in the group began early and continued through the full race duration. A large tailing group formed on the road but were eventually flagged out as the breakaway leaders got too close to their tail. 

The main pack had a rotating roster of teams at the front with the remaining Tonsley Village, Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo, and USG Racing Team / Coffylosophy, and Keystone Cycling keeping the pace high. Still ROKiT Racing decided to attack and animate the race but the other teams protecting their GC leaders reeled them in.

The sprint finish suited the skillset of series leader Matt Sparnon (USG Racing Team / Coffylosophy) who tends to like a long sprint. Sparnon again out-sprinted his main series rival Graeme Moffett (Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo) with Andrew Friebe (ROKiT Racing) crossing third.

Maxima/SCODY GC Standings After Rd 4:

Matt Sparnon (USG Racing Team / Coffylosophy) – 78 points

Graeme Moffett (Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo) – 66 points

Cameron Spears (Tonsley Village) – 59 points

The Elite Women’s race was on from the gun because breakaways have a habit of sticking in this grade and none of the contenders wanted to miss out. Every lap was full gas as riders kept trying to use a strong first turn to launch an attack, only to be chased down into the headwind on the next straight.

Series animator Ash Ankudinoff (Cycling Australia) found some daylight and was closely pursued by Chelsea Holmes (Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo). Solo entrant Nat put in a gritty effort to rail the first corner, sprint hard, and join the duo on the following lap. The trio formed a powerhouse breakaway with all riders showing very good form across the recent races. Their collective strength and handling abilities immediately stacked the odds against the chasing pack. 

Jenny Macpherson (Butterfields Racing), who habitually sneaks into criterium breakaways, came close to crossing to the leaders but was just unable to make it before dropping back. Annette Edmonson (Cycling Australia) spend a couple of laps trying as well but it was here that teammate Ruby Roseman-Gannon managed to find some space. Roseman-Gannon couldn’t quite cross to the leaders but settled in for a gritty solo TT early on in the race.

More riders tried to spring from the chasing pack but all were covered and the bunch soon lost its cohesion and the leaders formed a massive gap. Eventually as the breakaway began to sneak up behind the bunch, threatening to take a lap, the bunch was sprinted early for places 5-10. Annette Edmonson won the early sprint for 5th over Chloe Moran (Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo) which puts Edmonson within 3 points of series leader Nicola Macdonald (Roxsolt-Attaquer). Keep an eye on that battle with only two rounds remaining.

Ankudinoff, Redmond, and Holmes kept the pace high enough to stabilise the gap to Roseman-Gannon. Akudinoff launched her sprint early and made a gap to Redmond, but Redmond kept her foot on the gas right up until the line and nearly took a sneaky second win of the Series – Ankudinoff had done enough to cross the line first, though. Holmes crossed a close third and Roseman Gannon earned some hearty applause at the end of her ride to 4th place.

Maxima/SCODY GC Standings After Rd 4:

Nicola Macdonald (Roxsolt-Attaquer) – 61 points

Annette Edmonson (Cycling Australia) – 58 points

Chloe Moran (Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo) – 52 points

Elite Men were the last grade to send it around Aldinga and while those who only looked at the results sheet might see a familiar story, this was truly a race to watch as the wind picked up, tore through the field and made it almost impossible for a break to get any real time gap on the charging peloton. From the very start it was a sprint out of the block to get position into the first corner, and the volume never came down from 11 until the checkered flag flew.

Moves came thick and fast as everyone from Sam Welsford, Kell O’Brien and Leigh Howard (ACT Mens Track Endurance) through to MTB’er Cam Ivory (Tonsley Village) and Brendan Davids (Olivers Real Food Racing) had a go at making it stick off the front. 

It was TT specialist Lucas Plapp (ACT Mens Track Endurance) who had the last laugh, as he came through the bell lap in a waning group of three followed by a charging Sam Welsford dragging the bunch up behind him asd they took the hairpin for the last time. The riders disappeared into the beachside houses for 30 seconds as they made their way around corners three and four, and those expecting to see an 8-wide bunch kick were surprised to see a solo Plapp come round the bottom corner onto the final straight with daylight behind him and enough time to post-up for the win. Series Leader Leigh Howard took second place to keep his lead over Cam Scott who finished third, just 6 points separating the two now, 15 points clear of Justin Gassner in third.

Maxima/SCODY GC Standings After Rd 4:

Leigh Howard (ACT Mens Track Endurance) – 74 points

Cam Scott (Cycling Australia Academy) – 68 points

Justin Gassner (Tonsley Village) – 53 points

LOOKING FORWARD

The Super Series heads to Gawler for Round VII and a brand new course. The Gawler Kermesse course (https://www.cyclingsuperseries.com.au/rd-vii-gawler-kermesse/) is lumpy with varying reports of 100-200 metres of elevation gained per lap. There should be plenty of unexpected results as the sprint-heavy series gives an opportunity for more climbing-focused riders. Some grades are tight as well and the unpredictability of the Kermesse could shake up the standings. 

One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be spicy!

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