The opening twilight race for the season at Sandown racecourse saw a huge field assemble despite the massive rain storm threatening from the west, and riders optimism was rewarded with the rain holding off just long enough to get all racing finished safely.
As is often the case for the season opener, bunch sprints were the order of the day as everyone wants a crack at getting the season off to a start with a win.
As it turned out, a handy break in A Grade that included Jarryd Jones, Rico Rogers (Invert Building), Alan Iacuone, Alex Smyth (Plan B), Adrian Jackson, Stu Smith (Jayco VIS) and Duncan Smith (O2 Racing) before growing to around 20 riders looked like they would decide the day were only reeled in on the final laps to give the sprint specialists their chance.
Rogers claimed the season opener for the second time with a blistering sprint, prompting one off track commentator to describe the result as like “taking candy off the kids”. Brent Nelson (Croydon Cycleworks) was best of the rest with Jones, Liam Dove (Plan B), Tyler Spurrell (Croydon Cycleworks) and Sunday’s winner Joel Pearson (Genesys) rounding out the podium.
Stefan Imberger (Mainline Cycles) and Adam Versteege (Zoom Video Racing) spent most of the race off the front of the B Grade bunch, before being reeled in just in time for the sprint. Just like the A Grade finish, the win still went to one of the riders from the failed break, however Versteege’s winning margin over Shane Young had to be measure in milimetres rather than bike lengths.
David Randall (Bicycle Superstore) claimed third just ahead of Tom Quirk, while Alistair Stuart scraped in for fifth ahead of Shane Barr. Carley McKay (Holden Cycling) claimed the winners win ahead of Ruby Greig-Hurtig (Melbourne Designer Floors) and Miranda Griffiths (Holden).
Russell Church led out the C Grade sprint and looked the likely winner 20 metres from home, before an impressive final burst saw Blackburn youngster Lachlan Holliday take the win in the throw to the line to back up his win on Sunday. James Tickner (Bikes de Ver) also repeated on the podium with third place in a photo finish with Stevie Penman. Sam Ritter (Giant) was a comfortable winner of the women’s division.
Stefan Controneo took the D Grade win from Jet Turner, Scott Walkerden (Trail Mix) and Rhys Orwin (O’Mara Cycles), while Alison West (Seights Custom Clothing) was too quick for Amber Saunders (Burnley Finance) to take out the women’s race.
Michael Eaddy’s extensive photo gallery can be seen at https://plus.google.com/photos/103110114927998248117/albums/5797245522578373393
|A Grade||53 riders|
|B Grade||60 riders|
|Women’s B Grade||3 riders|
|C Grade||61 riders|
|Women’s C Grade||2 riders|
|D Grade||38 riders|
|Women’s D Grade||7 riders|
|F Grade||15 riders|