Perfect winter's sunny day and a top-notch field entered allowed us to play around with the Focus Bikes Crossfire Cup race format a little.
A-Grade Cyclocross Women were moved forwards in the program, starting 45min earlier than usual and mixing it up with the Open Men instead of the B-Grade men's field. This allows us to raise the entry cap on B-Grade Men, and also gives some of the faster women in B-Grade a chance to mix it up and learn from some faster athletes. It also meant there were over 35 women racing on the course at once, a great sight for spectators and something we hope to grow!
We'll take feedback on the changes, with a view to possibly adding an extra race, or extending the time for C-Grade Men/B-Grade women. It's also suggested we mix up the event order a bit, perhaps the Women's race should be last on course next time, and alternate times with the A-Grade Men?
The day got off to a slow start with only a small number of set-up crew on hand to get the ZOMBIE PARK course ready by 9am. It wasn't quite done in time, and CX 'gurus' Neil and Gemma managed to completely mess-up the main field, creating a never ending trap for riders who were practicing on the corse (on different directions too). Eventually things were sorted, riders were sent in the correct direction, and the Little Crossers were off.
Closest race of the day was in A-Grade women, with Terri 'Stink' Rhodes in the green Champion System Leader's Jersey swapping the lead with Jenny 'Honey Badger' Macpherson, till Stinko got the upper hand. Extra confusion had occurred in the first lap with the back half of the A-Grade women making a turn onto the pits and then going backwards on course, but they organised themselves and slotted back in 'roughly' in the right place. B-Grade women also had a close battle with two seasoned racers Lisa Smith gaining the series lead, narrowly besting new CXer (but former track star!), Tess Downing. They were a minute clear of Race 1 Leader Aurelia Strozik. Of special note in C-Grade men was junior Nathan Crick who managed three laps in the allotted time - well done Nathan!
B-grade Men's current series leader Steven Lee 'cleared out' from early in the race, with first time CXer Benoit Cajelot the only rider to keep pace early. Lee increased his speed over the race, posting his fastest lap last with a clear 30sec to Benoit. The racing behind was much closer with 15 riders finishing within 2mins, with some impressive sprint finishes and last corner crashes to spice up the racing.
It was all Chris 'J-Blood' Jongewaard in A-Grade who with his now typical fast start stretched the whole field early, with only 'the real' Shaun Lewis and Australian CX Team representative Jack Hogan staying within sight. Mid-race Lewis looking like bridging the gap before a fall or mechanical slowed his progress. Jongewaard stayed watchful, keeping the gap steady, only slowing on the final lap to allow Shaun to get within 10secs at the line. Right through the A-Grade field there were some great battles, noteably Josh Smith and PT Jiricek-Scott attempting to out-manouvre and out-run a riding Tom Freeman through the gravel chicanes on the last lap!
Kudos to those few helpers who were there to set the course up from 7:45am, and thanks to many competitors who helped pack up afterwards. Howabout we do it all in a fortnight? ENTRIES OPEN FOR MULCH HILL 19 JULY HERE.
Full Focus Crossfire Cup standings update to follow soon. If we have something wrong - email asap.
Photo Links (got more? Email us):
Slider Pic: B-Grade Women are off the Focus Start line.
Main Pic: PACC's Mark Manning in full flight. Photos from Tim Loft