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.