Author: Chris Aitken
Video here: Avi(nash) Kunjamboo
The start of the National Cyclo-cross national series was upon us and there was a sense of excitement in the air as all the top rider were gathered in Adelaide for the Start to what might be the most hotly contested series to date. The Majority of the Focus Attaquer team was in attendance and ready to do battle over two explosive day of racing.
Unlike previous years the weather had turned it on and it was going to be a dry and rather warm weekend for the first time down south. The two days or racing were to be held at a new venue just outside the city and would consists of a similar course that would be raced in the opposite direction for the second day.
After the team arrived it was time to get down to business. New tires made for some interesting practice, with different treads and a totally new setup it was going to take some getting used to. The bikes were checked and then wiped down making them ready for the start line. Some riders used stationary trainers to warm up while others parted ways to do their own personal warm up on the road.
Everyone moved about the tent with ease as we had the pleasure of using our new Chasm 70L Duffel bags supplied by THULE to keep the pit tent looking tidy. Spectators peered into the tent to catch a glimpse of our final warm up routines before we all headed to the start area.
As I took my place on the front row beside the current National Champion Chris Jongaward the adrenaline started to kick in. The 2 minute call was made and all the riders settled themselves for the start.
15 seconds……. Bang. The gun goes and everyone was off to a flying start. The first corner was very loose and fast with the top speed reaching 47km/h in less than 100 meters. The pack made it through safe and I managed to position myself into the top five wheels coming into the first half of the lap. As for the rest of my of the Focus Attaquer team mates they were all sitting comfortably in the top 15.
The first lap passed and Chris Jongaward and Garry Millburn had started to pull away with a small gap. I tried to play it cool and work my way into the race as I didn’t want to waste my energy early on. Another two laps passed and I started to get a little worried that the 12 second lead that the front two had and knew it would be a big ask to bring them back. I maneuvered my way into 4th wheel behind team mate Tom Chapman and started to Chase down the leaders.
I pushed extremely hard for about ¾ of a lap and managed to make contact with the lead two on one of the long straights that made up the Adelaide course. Almost immediately after making contact Chris J made his way to the front of the Trio and started turning the screws. Soon enough he had started to distance himself from Garry and myself as I was still trying to get my heart rate down from trying to close the gap.
For the next five laps Chris J managed to slowly gain time on Garry and myself as we battled hard trying to get a small gap over each other. Every lap there were multiple attacks as we both wanted to claim that second place step on the podium.
Coming into the final lap Garry threw down an almighty attack and I made a small mistake causing me to unclip and put my foot down. This would prove to be the small gap that Garry used to go on to claim the second place finish with. Teammate Tom Chapman also rode a consistent race and finished in 4th to round out the podium with two of our Focus Attaquer riders in the top 5.
The Sunday was also the second round of the National CX Series and would be held at the same venue and a similar course to the day prior. We all adapted our own warm ups from the day before and set out with trying to get more of our riders up the front to make an impact on the race.
The Gun when off and we were flying into the first turn again. I had a horrible start missing my pedal a number of times and floated back to 8th place. Teammate Tom Champan hat a great start and managed to find himself in third wheel behind yesterday’s podium place getters. The first lap was fast and chaotic from my position as there were riders trying all sorts of crazy maneuvers trying to get in front of each other.
After the first lap I was sitting in 6th with three riders starting to get away from the large chasing bunch. There were riders trying to get over to the leading three but to no avail. Soon enough the three at the front of the race had started to split into singles as Chris J started to up the pace again. The chasing bunch that I was in was losing numbers and it was getting more difficult to make up ground on the leaders.
With 4 laps to go I was locked in a back and forth battle with Adrian Jackson and another rider but tried to once again play it cool. I didn’t want to do too much work on the front as I knew that Adrian would have a great last lap attack and I had been beaten in many last lap dashes before. I managed to ride a strong enough pace that It dropped the other rider and placed me in the running to salvage a minor place after a bad start to the race.
Coming into the final lap Adrian attacked as we made our way into the loose dusty bush section. I tried to hold the wheel but couldn’t keep up with his impressive skill level.
My heart was racing and I sucking in the deep breaths, I kept pushing on only a few seconds behind. With half a lap to go we made our way onto a long tar straight where I wound up the larger than normal chinring I had on my bike and managed to bring him back.
¼ of a lap to go and Adrian attacked me again. This time I managed to go with him knowing that I could ride the off caber bank at the end of the lap faster than he could. 400m to go and I made my move. I attacked as hard as I could knowing that this was last chance to get past and make my move before the finish line. 100m to go and it was a straight run to the finish where I rolled in for 4th, 15 seconds behind 2nd and 6 seconds behind teammate Tom Chapman.
This was a good start to the National CX Series as I feel the team is coming in with plenty in the tank for the more important races in the latter half of the season. See you in Sydney in a few weeks.
We would like to thank all our sponsors and supporters for the continued support.