Recap: Cervelo Masters (Round 3)

Venue: Sydney Dragway, Eastern Creek

RACE REPORT – by Johnathan Millington

The final round of the Cervelo Masters Series was held on Sunday July 15 at Western Sydney International Dragway. The race format was a handicap with four groups (A and B grades were split) starting at timed intervals. The race would be 90 minutes + 3 laps. The team objective was to ensure Dhuez held the yellow jersey to win the series and also win the day.

At 1030 the B2 group started, with B1 group starting one minute behind. The A2 group with DhuezRacing riders Christian Godyn and Grant Harmer started at 1035. One minute behind was the A1 group with DRT’s Ben Neppl, Mick Curran, Matt Warner-Smith and Johnathan Millington.

From the start both A1 and B1 riders would have a big chase on their hands as the A2 and B2 groups had a sizable numbers advantage.

The fast and technically challenging circuit would provide little opportunities to rest. Each group lost riders in the first 20 minutes of the race while trying to either catch the next group or stay away from the chasers.

The A2 group was making great headway with Christian and Grant rolling turns in a large fast-moving bunch. After 20min the A2 group had caught the B1 bunch and were now only 3 minutes behind the B2 group. The A1 bunch had not been able to make any progress and were still one minute behind A2. Their bunch was now reduced to six riders – the four men from Dhuez as well as Luke Cridland and Alex Gardner.

30 minutes into the race the A2/B1 “supergroup” is closing in on the leaders and now only 2 minutes behind that leading bunch. The A1 group is also finally starting to make progress and is now only 50 seconds behind the A2/B1 supergroup.

Just as things were looking positive for the A1 group, Matt Warner-Smith slides out on a tight right hand turn and goes to ground. Heading into the final round Matt was 4th in the series and at that point in the race a great chance of moving up to 3rd. Unfortunately, the fall caused terminal damage to Matt’s bike but team-captain Johnathan stopped and got Matt straight back into the race with an immediate bike change. Matt was up and riding again but was now all on his own.

The progress the A1 group had made was now lost from the crash and the gap ballooned to 1min 20sec and now with only four riders (Ben, Mick, Luke and Alex). It appeared this might not be the day for the scratch bunch.

40 minutes in, and the A2/B1 supergroup hads closed the gap to the leaders to one minute. With the catch imminent a course deviation was made for rider safety. A new “hot dog” style circuit would be used for the rest of the race.

50 minutes in and all bunches are together apart from the four men from A1 who are one minute behind and seemingly fighting a losing battle.

For the next 20 min the race is at an impasse; the main bunch is working well together to keep the chasers at bay. The A1 bunch do not have to numbers make any progress into the deficit.

The final 20min of the race would prove to be some of the most exciting racing of the series. The main bunch now starts getting more aggressive with riders attacking to try and get away and claim the podium spots. Grant Harmer was prominent in following the attacks and making sure a Dhuez rider would be on the podium. No attacks were able to stay clear and the resulting lulls in speed gave the A1 bunch a chance for a catch. When Christian Godyn left the main bunch he joined up with A1 and pulled some long, powerful turns causing the gap of 45sec quickly close to just 10sec. The four men made the junction on the back of Christian’s final effort.

Just before the A1 bunch joined (5min to go), two riders in the main bunch had broken clear (Andrew East and Peter Wakefield). This would prove to be the race winning move and they would beat the sprinting bunch to the finish by 25sec. With Ben, Mick and Grant now together, the Dhuez riders started preparing for a bunch sprint for the remaining podium places. With riders jockeying for position, Mick showed his experience in reading which riders to follow at what time and placed Ben and himself in prime position as the bunch rounded the final turn. After chasing for much of the race Ben Neppl would open up the sprint from 300m out to place 4th and Mick Curran hit the afterburners late to finish 5th.  An outstanding result considering the effort required in chasing for the entire race.

The overall series would see Ben Neppl lead from start to finish by winning the overall title. Mick Curran would place 2nd overall – also holding this position for the entire series. Matt Warner-Smith would move into 3rd overall with his result on the final day meaning that Dhuez Racing took 1-2-3 for the overall series.

The handicap was a different format of race to finish the series but it was well planned with all bunches coming together in the last 10min. Big thanks must be made to race promotor Paul Craft on the handicaps and the running of the entire series. A very well run event with plenty to offer for all levels of racer.

#DRT #StrongerAsOne #tricolours








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