Gawler Eastlink Kermesse Proves The 2020 99 Bikes Super Series’ Hardest Race Yet

November 13, 2020

Words: James Raison, Photos: Andy Rogers

Round 7 of the 2020 Super Series headed to Gawler for its spiciest, climbiest, and most chaotic round to date. There was some great racing and GC shakeups so let’s get to it!

THE COURSE

The Gawler Eastlink Kermesse is the most bizarre course on the 2020 Super Series. A 5.5km hot dog course on a brand new road, the lap is a heftily undulating punisher with double-digit gradients both ways. Top speeds for the day were flirting with 90 kph, and lowest speeds were single digits with some desperate weaving to soften up the steepness seen throughout the day.

The lap begins with a deep plunge into an immediate double-upward swoop towards the first roundabout. It then drops down to the second roundabout where riders go full-circle and ride straight back to the start-finish line the way they came. It’s a simple course but a complex one for racing.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that some grades split in the first few hundred metres as riders scrambled to find the right gear out of the flying descent and into the sudden wall. Most of the destruction was done on the return leg of the course which had the steepest gradients between the roundabouts and on the final push to the line. 

The course made for outstanding racing with plenty of unpredictable outcomes and some GC shake-ups. It wasn’t quite the climber-dominated day that many expected, rather one that favoured the riders with a high threshold for suffering. 

So, let’s talk racing!

HOW THE RACES WERE WON

Both Masters 3 races were away first but were unfortunately neutralised when a rider who had withdrawn had a medical emergency right next to the course. Endless thanks to our Sports Trainers, some bystanders and a rider from the Women’s Cat 3 race who stopped to help out, without whom the outcome could have been far, far worse. The rider in question is recovering in hospital now, and by all accounts is just asking about when he can get back on the bike!

The Category 2 Women splintered almost in half on the first lap with the Keystone Cycling team doing ample damage at the front of the race. They managed to get most riders in the lead pack and then had strength of numbers for the rest of the race. From there it became a struggle for survival. Riders continuously dropped from the front group and would spend the day solo, or join with other women strewn along the Gawler Eastlink.

Maxima/SCODY GC leader Celia Cowan (Keystone Cycling) and challenger Meg Marker (Butterfields Racing) were both in the lead group but it was solo rider Paige Cranage who decided to attack. She forged a small gap over Cowan, who’d immediately responded from the group, up to the first roundabout and managed to extend her advantage on the return leg. Cranage made the most of the steep gradients and pulled out a 20 second gap on Cowan. They’d continue their battle right to the end with Cranage holding off Cowan by 11 seconds, and Meg Marker rolled over the line in third.

The top of the Maxima/SCODY GC standings belong firmly to Cowan who extends her lead over Marker in second. Sueann Woodwiss (Butterfields Racing) deserves hearty praise for moving into third overall, scoring points at every round so far. With just one round to go in this grade, Cowan’s 32-point lead means she has secured the Series win.

Maxima/SCODY GC standings after Rd 7:

Celia Cowan (Keystone Cycling) – 116 points

Meg Marker (Butterfields Racing) – 84 points

Sueann Woodwiss (Butterfields Racing) 65 points

There was no mucking about in Mens Masters 2 with the attacks beginning on the very first upward swoop as Tom Baxter (Norwood CC Blue) kicked away from the bunch. He formed a trio with Phil Crick (ADX Depot) and Dave Baker (ROKiT Racing). They enjoyed a lap of freedom before the USG Racing Team / SA Fabricators and Norwood CC Red/Blue outfits took responsibility at the front of the race to bring things back together.

The race stabilised through the middle kilometers and gradually the bunch reduced. ROKiT Racing took charge in the latter stages to support their climber and Wallaroo Road Race winner Ed Bohdan. Maxima/SCODY GC leader Barnaby Grant (Port Adelaide CC) was playing close attention in the bunch and his teammates did some pace making in support in the latter stages. The final lap was where the attacks from the contenders began but the final selection happened on the final wall. Alex Jarvis (Norwood CC Red) dropped the hammer hardest and took the chequered flag with a solid margin over Nick Underwood (ADX Depot) and Ed Bohdan crossing third ahead of Barnaby Grant.

Grant retains the Maxima/SCODY GC lead and continues his remarkably consistent riding. Fourth on the day is his worst finish for the series to date. Alex Jarvis ascends to second place overall after winning in Gawler, and Michael Davies (ROKiT Racing) drops one spot but is only one point behind Jarvis in third. Grant’s 21-point lead secures him the Series win with only one round left to race. 

Maxima/SCODY GC standings after Rd 7:

Barnaby Grant (Port Adelaide CC) – 106 points

Alex Jarvis (Norwood CC Red) – 85 points

Michael Davies (ROKiT Racing) – 84 points

Mens Masters 1 were next on course and made for a very straightforward race report. Maxima/SCODY GC leader Matt Sparnon (USG Racing Team / Coffylosophy) upped the tempo at the start of lap 2, and had shredded the bunch down to a handful of riders on the return leg of the same lap. 

The lead group settled down mid-race with members of ROKiT and Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo joining Sparnon who continued to ride at the front and kept the pace high. Sparnon’s enormous pace-setting effort eventually took its toll and Andrew Friebe (ROKiT Racing) managed to successfully attack late and take the win by 3 seconds. Jp Jacobs (ROKiT Racing) would roll over 3rd, 21 seconds behind Sparnon.

The Maxima/SCODY GC is the same at the top with Sparnon sporting a solid lead but Friebe’s Gawler victory jumps him right up into 2nd overall with Graeme Moffett (Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo) 3rd, having not collected any points at Rd 7. Friebe is the only rider within striking distance of Sparnon’s 18-point lead for the Series win.

Maxima/SCODY GC standings after Rd 7:

Matt Sparnon (USG Racing Team / Coffylosophy) – 96 points

Andrew Friebe (ROKiT Racing) – 78 points

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

The Elite women’s race substantially shook up the overall GC. The pack stayed largely intact for a couple of laps with Roxsolt Attaquer and Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo riding hard enough to crack the first few riders. Maxima/SCODY GC leader Nicola Macdonald (Roxsolt-Attaquer) was an early victim of the steep gradients and the Gawler Kermesse would be the end of her consistent finishing and overall lead. 

The steep grades at the far end of the course was where the race blew apart. Cycling Australia duo Alexandra Manly and Ash Ankudinoff were joined by individual rider Ruby Roseman-Gannon. Later the trio would be joined by Georgia Baker (Cycling Australia) who bridged across to form a mightily strong leading group. 

Behind the leaders was some serious intrigue for the Maxima/SCODY GC. With Macdonald’s early exit, Anette Edmondson (Cycling Australia) had an opportunity to take control of the series. Edmondson would be dropped from the second group though as Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo’s Chloe Moran and Amber Pate continued to keep the tempo high with Carlee Taylor (Roxsolt-Attaquer) and individual rider Sophie Edwards. 

The leading group, despite being teammates, fought hard all the way to the line with Manly taking the win over Roseman-Gannon and Baker in 3rd. Chloe Moran would, crucially for GC, cross the line 5th and Edmonson 10th. 

The Maxima/SCODY GC looked very different at day’s end. With Chloe Moran and Annette Edmondson on equal points at the top, Edmondson holds the jersey on countback thanks to her second place at Wallaroo (the day before Chloe Moran’s second place at Moonta). One more round of normal points on offer at Unley will decide which of them leads the Series coming into the final round Points Race, but with GC points on offer at each sprint it’s nearly anyone’s game.

Maxima/SCODY GC standings after Rd 7:

Anette Edmondson (Cycling Australia) – 64 points

Chloe Moran (Team Prochem p/b Focus and Cervelo) – 64 points

Nicola Macdonald (Roxsolt-Attaquer) – 61 points

Category 2 Men, as always, was a complete slug-fest with constant attacking throughout the whole race. The lighter riders unable to capitalise on crit courses had a field day at Gawler.

Max Hardy (Norwood CC Red) and Sam Golding (Van D’am Racing Development) were on a race-long mission to escape the rest of the field. They either instigated, or were involved in, every scuffle until they finally made one stick with a couple of laps to go. Meanwhile the race broke up behind them and riders were littered across the Eastlink. The top 2 Maxima/SCODY GC riders Thomas Rischmueller (Norwood CC Blue) and Michael Wellman hung in admirably across the undulating course.

Up front Sam Golding and Max Hardy continued to duke it out across the final lap. Hardy overhauled an early spring by Golding and held him off to take the win. 30 seconds behind it was a slow motion sprint up the final wall. Wellman ended up rode hard to take 3rd and crucially gained a couple of spots over his Maxima/SCODY GC rival Tom Rischmueller who finished 6th.

Rischmueller retains the overall series lead by a slender 4 points over Wellman. Both are consistently fast finishers but the Unley Criterium course will likely favour powerhouse Tom Clarke (LLCC Pedla p/b GCC) who took both the Moonta and Aldinga crits. All Wellman will need to do to secure the Series win is finish a couple of places up on Rischmueller, and likewise if Rishcmueller can stay on Wellman’s wheel to the finish and finish in front of or immediately behind him, he’ll take the win.

Maxima/SCODY GC standings after Rd 7:

Thomas Rischmueller (Norwood CC Blue) – 74 points

Michael Wellman – 70 points

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

Elite Men hit the course for their sufferfest in the last time slot, and would see only 20 of 45 riders make it to the chequered flag. 

Jason Woodard (ROKiT Racing) and Karl Evans sprang from the bunch early on lap one, and held a gap for an entire lap before others began to counter. Series-long heavy hitters Brendan Davids (Olivers Real Food Racing), Cooper Sayers (Tonsley Village), and Lucas Plapp (ACT Mens Track Endurance) overhauled the attackers and became the breakaway. Other riders tried to cross but got stuck in the void and eventually the bunch reeled them all back in. Cam Scott (Cycling Australia Academy, 2nd place on GC coming into this round) was a notable early DNF with a snapped chain. Given the points structure of the Super Series, the mechanical puts him a long way behind Series Leader Leigh Howard.

It was a long and brutal race for Elite Men and every lap caused more and more riders to drop off the back. Multiple riders found space to the peloton but none could keep away for more than a lap. The ACT Mens Track Endurance team dominated the front and eventually Lucas Plapp and Kell O’Brien rode away for a two-up break. No other riders could cross to them and they’d cross the line arm-in-arm with O’Brien credited with the win. Howard crossed third with a monster sprint up the final wall and edged out Cooper Sayers and Tom Chapman.

The Maxima/SCODY GC remains unchanged at the top with Leigh Howard bagging another podium. His 3rd in Gawler is, remarkably, his second-worst race finish of the Series so far with a solo win at Moonta and a second place at Rounds 1, 5 and 6. Cam Scott now finds himself tied with Kell O’Brien on points in second place.

Maxima/SCODY GC standings after Rd 7:

Leigh Howard (ACT Mens Track Endurance) – 90 points

Kell O’Brien (ACT Mens Track Endurance) – 68 points

Cameron Scott (Cycling Australia Academy) – 68 points

LOOKING FORWARDS

Round 8 of the Super Series is the final hitout for every grade except for the Elites. It’s the Unley Oval Reserve Criterium most will remember for its aggressive manhole cover, spoon drains, and Jacaranda trees, though the manhole and spoon drains are meant to be getting fixed up next week, fingers crossed! It’s your classic square criterium so look to the Moonta results for a good form guide on what to expect. 

After Unley, the Elites will take to a Friday evening Points Race to finish off the Series and decide these final placings. Like last year’s Points Race there will be sprints every 4 laps, but unlike last year the 5, 3, 2 and 1 points awarded in each sprint will be points toward each rider’s tally in the Maxima / SCODY GC. With 8 Sprints in each race, a rider could walk away with as many as 40 points, or even more if they take a lap on the field.

It’s looking to be a ripper event with plenty still up-for-grabs in the GC battles and the Unley location being a great course with Mischief Brew and Gang Gang coming down to keep you fed and watered! See you there!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *