Another stunning spring day closed out the NSW Masters Road Championships, as riders contested the criteriums in the village of Broke.
Positioning would be crucial on this narrow but picturesque 1.2-kilometre rectangular circuit, with little time for riders to enjoy the views across the green valley. The tricky Turn 1 saw countless riders run wide and onto the grass, while the final corner was just 150 metres from the line.
The WMAS5+ riders were the first to see the course. Riders like Roberta Salvatori (Marconi CC), Lynda Behan (Southern Cross CC) and Kate Olgers (Peloton Sports) pushed the pace as the peloton stayed mostly intact throughout.
On the final corner, at the back of the pack, Virginia Joyce (Macksville CC) swung wide and found herself skirting the grass. Up front, the Southern Cross pair of Lynda Behan and Michelle Crawford had the biggest kicks, winning the WMAS6 and WMAS5 gold medals respectively.
Eleri Morgan-Thomas (Dulwich Hill BC) was eighth across the line to win the WMAS7 title, while Rosemary Hastings (Bathurst CC) did what she needed to do, riding strongly behind to claim the WMAS9 gold medal.
Off the back of an intense start, Nadia Younan (SUVelo) broke clear after 15 minutes. Not comfortable with the stop-start rhythm through the corners, Younan preferred to tackle the course at her own time-trial tempo.
With her Sydney Uni Velo clubmates happy to see her go, Younan opened up a gap of 25 seconds. Despite efforts from Simone Grounds (Dubbo CC), Renee Heinrich (Dulwich Hill BC) and Bree Playel (Manly Warringah CC) to bring her back, Younan held steady to take a memorable solo win.
In the sprint behind, Nicole Wilson (SUVelo) crossed the line ahead of Grounds, Heinrich and Dayna Davidson (Southern Cross CC). India McLean (Manly Warringah CC), who had been distanced earlier, finished ahead of Jennifer Short to win the WMAS2 category.
While most riders were looking at road race champion Rod Price (Hunter Valley Masters CC) as the favourite, Guy Page (Central Coast CC) had other ideas. Approaching the final corner, Page caught the bunch by surprise with a long-range sprint. He earned a small gap as he took the turn; a gap that he was able to hold all the way to the line.
Harry Rourke (Waratah Masters CC) pipped Price in the sprint behind, while another Central Coast rider in Hugh Gray beat his MMAS10 rivals to gold.
A crash on Turn 1 halfway through the race saw Kevin Young (Parramatta CC) unable to continue and coincided with — or caused — a decisive split. Robert Hadley (Hunter District CC) had been caught in the crash and, as per criterium rules, returned to the leading group after his lap out.
Brett Stewart (Central Coast CC), Roger Cull (Sydney CC) and Peter Ritchie (Manly Warringah CC) were the other riders making the split. They built an insurmountable lead before Hadley comfortably won the sprint ahead of Stewart and Cull.
Despite attempts by riders like Gregory Barnes (Manly Warringah CC), Terrence Wall (Illawarra CC) and Greigory Cochrane (St George CC) to set a hard pace, the bunch stayed intact for the finish.
As he did last year in Coffs Harbour, Ross Bowles (Harlequin) proved far and away the best sprinter in the race. He won ahead of Paul Bradley (Penrith CC), who had sat quietly within the bunch for most of the race, and Mark Skribins (Waratah Masters CC).
This race would be marred by the second and bigger crash of the day. Going three-wide into the narrow Turn 1 corner was always going to be a recipe for disaster, and unfortunately Peter Lane (Inverell CC) and David O’Connell (Northern Sydney CC) hit the deck on the bell lap, with Nigel Apps (Lidcombe Auburn CC) also taken out of contention.
In the sprint of those remaining, Neil Arnold (Illawarra CC) edged out Nigel Perry (Hunter District CC) and Alistair Lane (Coffs Harbour CC).
A rapid start only settled down after Andrew Bray (Harlequin) and Tim Clarsen (Manly Warringah CC) dragged themselves clear of the peloton. Those behind never managed to collaborate as they watched the race escape up the road.
In the end, Jordan Reizes (Bicisport) won the bunch sprint for bronze, while Bray comfortably beat out Clarsen for gold.
The Masters 4 riders weren’t afraid to make the race hard, with riders like Peter Milostic (Penrith CC) and Jeremy Ryan (Bathurst CC) going to the front early to string things out. A favoured tactic was to lead into Turn 1, nail the turn before kicking hard to open up gaps to less confident bike handlers.
However, despite solo moves by Alwyn Miller (Inverell CC) and Brett Davidson (Southern Cross CC) a front group of 10 stayed together to contest the finish, where Penrith’s Sean Brunt took the win.
Judging by his shouts of delight, Milostic seemed thrilled with his clubmate’s win (despite going home with a relatively modest bronze medal for the championships, by his lofty standards). Chris Ling (Dulwich Hill BC) and Davidson made up the rest of the podium.
Not even a puncture could stop Ben Neppl (Hunter District CC) from claiming a clean sweep across the weekend.
The same escapees from the road race — Neppl, Peter Wakefield (Penrith CC) and Daniel McGuigan (Randwick Botany CC) — were joined by Peter Horwood (Inverell CC) to form a breakaway in the opening minutes. Working had, the quartet steadily built their lead from lap to lap. The only wobble came when Neppl punctured in a corner while leading the group, but his fellow escapees avoided collision and normal service resumed after Neppl’s lap out.
In the closing laps, McGuigan could no longer hold the pace and drifted back to finish fourth. The final lap was a formality: Neppl attacked on the back of the circuit, distancing Wakefield from Horwood to complete his dominance of these championships.
After waiting all day for their turn, the race of the youngest men was characterised by constant attacks. Geoff Rickards, Mick Curran, Chris Ball, Daniel Sullivan, Kevin Berkeley and Charl Van Wyk were among the major protagonists to test the waters.
All their probing moves were reeled in until the race split neatly into two distinct groups: the Masters 2s at the front, with the Masters 1s marking each other about half a lap behind.
Both categories finished in bunch sprints. In the Masters 2s, Kevin Berkeley (Parramatta CC) had good position into the final corner, but appeared to get caught in too big a gear as he started his sprint. In contrast, Mick Curran (Central Coast CC) nailed the finish, using the very edge of the tarmac and finishing quickly to beat Berkeley by half a wheel.
In the Masters 1s, big sprinter Geoff Rickards was taken out of contention with a puncture in the final corner. Daniel Cranfield (Central Coast CC) beat Daniel Schwartz (Camden CC) in the sprint, making it a perfect race for the Dhuez Racing teammates from the Central Coast.
For full results, visit the results page for the 2020 NSW Masters Road Championships.
Words and photo by Ryan Miu
Masters Women 1
Masters Women 2
Masters Women 3
Masters Women 4
Masters Women 5
Masters Women 6
Masters Women 7
Masters Women 9
Masters Men 10
Masters Men 9
Masters Men 8
Masters Men 7
Masters Men 6
Masters Men 5
Masters Men 4
Masters Men 3
Masters Men 2
Masters Men 1