Words by Dingus Dave...
Race Reports - HCC Crits
It was the final round of Hawthorn's summer of crits at the Teardrop. Kent had been smashing it all summer, without ever getting that elusive C Grade win. Last week was the closest we came, with Hogan attempting leadout duties to the bottom of the final climb to the finish and depositing Kent at third wheel. As the front three hit the line, it was only the width of a tire that relegated Kent to third. Close, again.
But in this final week, Kent had the plan worked out, with the idea being to ease off the front after the intermediate sprint. This is typically when the majority of the pack catch their breath and wait for the bunch to come back together after the inevitable splits on the sprint lap, so it's possible to get a decent break before people realise what's going on.
15 minutes in to the 25 minute race, fellow Brunswick rider, Diesel McDougall, had taken out the sprint lap and was dangling off the front on his own down the back straight when Kent bridged across. Hogan watched from the pack as the two got away to a decent 20 second lead, with little chasing from the bunch. This was it - the plan was working perfectly. Kent had worked his butt off in the first two laps after breaking away, but was then able to recover and hit a nice tempo, with he and McDougall staying just in sight of the bunch on the back straight.
But strangely, without a massive effort from the bunch, Kent and McDougall started being reeled in. Down the back straight after 20 minutes of racing, and it looked like they were sitting up. Hogan came round the hairpin to see Kent rolling into the gutter with a flat rear tire. Faaaarrrrkk. Disaster for Kent.
And with the sun disappearing quickly, 3 laps were called early, only one lap after Kent had to retire.
WIth two laps to go, the pace was slow as folks eyed each other off. McDougall, having recovered from his breakaway, got impatient and smacked it down the back straight with 1.5 laps to go. Hogan was feeling pretty good, having sat in the whole race, and thought to grab McDougall's wheel, but was poorly placed about six back and couldn't find a gap. As the bunch rounded the fast left hander on the last lap, Hogan was in fourth wheel, with McDougall still out in front with a 50m gap. But the guys on the front weren't going fast enough to catch him. Hogan hesitated - it was probably too early to go out and try and catch McDougall on his own, but at this speed they might not catch him at all. He sat in another 100m until the inevitable kick came before the final hairpin corner. The legs felt good, and Hogan took the corner in second wheel, overtook the guy in front at the bottom of the hill and then took off after a tiring McDougall.
McDougall was dieing, and fast. Hogan was flying. McDougall looked back. Hogan put the head down for one last kick. He was catching. The line was coming up. Hogan was reeling him in. But it was too late. McDougall held on for a fantastic win, and TDR just missed the win. Again.
Huge thanks to the folks at Hawthorn for putting on another great summer of crit racing at the Teardrop!