Tag Archives: melbourne kermesse championships

Melbourne Kermesse Championships report

The inaugural Melbourne Kermesse Championships was run and won today, and once the morning’s wet weather cleared it turned into a pretty good day of bike racing.

With generous and equal prize money available in men’s and women’s races, the A grade fields attracted some big names: Simon Clarke, Mitch Docker, Koen de Kort and Calvin Watson in the men; Peta Mullens, Rebecca Wiasak, Kimberley Wells and Bridie O’Donnell in the women.

The women’s race was a fairly sedate affair early, with the pace not really piling on until the final laps. Mullens claimed the victory in a close sprint, from Wells and Wiasak.

The men’s race had an unexpected result, with Search2Retain/Blackburn CC rider Alistair Donohoe winning the sprint from a powerful breakaway that included Giant-Shimano’s Koen de Kort and Orica-GreenEdge’s Simon Clarke.

Knocking off two World Tour riders is certainly something to be proud of for Donohoe, who is just 19 years old.

The break of about 15 riders had established a lead of up to 50 seconds by the halfway point of the race, and simply had too much power for the bunch to catch them.

The race was held at the Caribbean Gardens circuit in Scoresby, in Melbourne’s south-east. As far as I’m aware it was the first time this course has been used for racing, and I have to say it’s a lovely circuit to ride on. Wide, smooth roads, sweeping bends, a bit of climbing on each side of the course to provide a bit of interest and keep the sprinters honest.

The race was organised by the Melbourne Cycling League and Blackburn Cycling Club.

I raced in B grade, and apart from some communications problems and being given some dodgy instructions by a club official, which caused me to miss the start of the race, I had a good time out on the course.

A few small breaks were attempted, but none of them stuck for more than a lap or so, and the race was eventually won in a sprint by Ben Mavrodis.

I don’t think I was the only rider to miss the start – I heard others discussing it as well and there was another guy starting with me – but the problems stemmed from a nasty crash in the women’s B/C grade race, which required an ambulance on the course (I hope the rider involved is OK). As a consequence, the men’s C grade race was neutralised for quite a long period (at least 30 minutes) and the schedule went out the window.

It seems that the B grade race was also shortened to make up time.

My own problems aside, by the start of the A grade races the sun was out, the racing was good and the crowd seemed to enjoy the day. I will definitely be back.

Update: Results are now available via Cycling Victoria.

Great time of year to get on your bikes…

It might be pro road cycling’s off-season, but the traditional Aussie summer thwack of leather on willow is still being drowned out by spinning freewheels and the clacking of plastic cleats on cafe floors. Yes, the sun is out, the tan lines are crisping up nicely, and Australia’s cycling community is putting a collective leg over like Errol Flynn in a…. hang on, just updating my cultural references… like Mick Jagger at a… no… like Chris Froome on his honeymoon? It’s Aussie bike-riding season! Well, technically it’s always bike-riding season, what with the National Road Series (NRS) happening all winter, and all the state-based and club-based road races too. And it’s never a bad time to ride a bike, right? But this time of year is extra sweet. The weather is warm but not yet boiling, the dive-bombing magpies are calming down a bit, and you can head out for a ride reasonably confident that you won’t get drenched. In Melbourne, where I live, there’s racing more days than there isn’t. You can race in the morning, at night, after work, on the weekend, on the road, on a velodrome, down a mountain, up a fire trail. You name it, and you can attack it with two wheels and a fistful of energy gels. There are sportive rides, mass-participation rides, hill climbs, coffee rides, gravel grinds, mountain bikers dodging snakes (that should be an Olympic sport now that I think about it) and the rest of it. It’s a great time to be riding in Australia. And the professionals know it. It’s their off-season, which for the Aussies (and some adopted ones) means heading home for some time with family and friends, a bit of time off the bike, and then back into training in warm weather to start the build up to January, when Nationals and the Tour Down Under get the serious season underway. It’s a great time of year to spot internationally-famous riders catching up with old mates on the local roads, and dropping in to club races for a bit of fun. Chris Froome is even heading to Tasmania to race a crit with Richie Porte on December 7th. Froome has just gotten married, and he’s not a renowned crit rider, so don’t hold your breath for a massive performance from the former Tour de France champion, but still. How many times has a Tour winner raced in Australia, let alone in Launceston? Richie deserves a medal from the Tassie Tourism Board for that little effort. It all sort of starts this weekend in Melbourne with the Melbourne Kermesse Championships, where the local racers get a chance to have a go against some World Tour pros. A kermesse (not the green singing frog) is a Belgian style of circuit racing, sort of like a giant criterium. This circuit, around an industrial estate in suburban Scoresby, is not exactly the pinnacle of cycling’s natural beauty, but its sweeping curves should be fun to race on.

This is part of the Melbourne Kermesse Championships course. It's in a business park.
This is part of the Melbourne Kermesse Championships course. It’s in a business park.

Orica-GreenEdge riders Simon Clarke and Mitch Docker are racing in men’s A grade, along with Giant-Shimano’s Koen de Kort, Trek’s Calvin Watson, Garmin-Sharp’s Steele Von Hoff, and leading rider agent (better known as a Tour de France green jersey winner) Baden Cooke. The rest of the men’s A grade field is a good blend of NRS riders and Melbourne’s fastest club racers. They’ll be bang up for it, too. Women’s A grade is also peppered with internationals: Kimberley Wells, Road/MTB/Track star Peta Mullens, Rebecca Wiasak, National TT champion Felicity Wardlaw, and Bridie O’Donnell will be amongst the contenders. There’s also a team time trial and lower grades, for the up-and-comers and weekend warriors (and even some hack bloggers). A disclaimer: my club is sharing in the organisation (but seems inexplicably determined to avoid earning any credit or publicity for doing so). If that’s not your cup of espresso, this weekend is also the beginning of the Domestique 7 Peaks series, which is a great series of free, supported rides up some of Victoria’s best mountains. I did the Mt Buller ride last year and had a great time. In a couple of weeks Orica-GreenEdge has its annual Winery Ride, where fans can meet the team’s riders, another good chance to get motivated (and drink some wine afterwards). That’s just a tiny taste of the bike-related good times going on around these parts. Good fun is really what this time of year is all about. Get on yer bikes, it’s a great way to see the gun riders up close and personal.