I really like the Hawthorn crit circuit. Granted, this is much easier to say after getting a win there, but sprinting up that short hill every lap certainly makes things more interesting than rolling round on the flat and getting smashed by 90kg+ monsters at St. Kilda.
I’d never really been able to put things together at Hawthorn though. First round, I attacked too early (1.5 laps to go) and got reeled in before the final bend. Another week I was in the wrong gear as I started the final sprint from 5th wheel (which was probably too far back anyway), skipped my chain trying to gear down and that was it. Last week I managed a third after just missing the winner’s kick on the back straight.
But this week everything came up TDR. The legs felt a little heavy before the race, after a big weekend and a hard night at the track on Tuesday, but once we got going they sparked up. Feeling better than expected, I attacked off the front about half way through the race. I got a small break, and dangled out there for a couple of laps making sure I didn’t push too hard and blow up. I didn’t care if I got brought back; I was racing more as training, to push myself before Bright, rather than riding a tactical race to conserve energy. The group caught me, and I slotted back into third wheel.
Two laps later I attacked again going up the climb, this time taking one of the Blackburn kids with me. Once again we got a small break, but the little guy wasn’t giving me much shelter into the head wind up the back straight, and after a lap or two we were reeled in.
Suddenly there were only three laps left, but the pace stayed reasonably steady. As we crested the climb with one lap to go, the Blackburn kid attacked again. Last week’s winner McDougall (BWK) kicked to chase him down, and I worked hard to get his wheel as we flew around the sweeping left hander into the back straight. I had to get his wheel before we hit the head wind and thankfully managed to get great shelter and recover slightly leading into the final corner.
Once around the final bend, it was a just the kick to the line to win it. For once I had the right gear, and managed to overhaul McDougall in the final 20m to win by a half wheel.
Also, D’Alfonso was extremely unlucky in B Grade last night. Having attacked solo late in the race, he got himself a decent break and was in a perfect position to take the win. But he was getting close to the back of D Grade who were about to start their bell lap and the commisaire, who was rightfully concerned about the two grades getting mixed up during a sprint, called him to ease off and let D Grade go. Unlucky!