Riders geared up for what is the Footscray Cycling Club’s most gruelling event for the year, the 58th FCC Tour over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
Stage 1 saw riders complete a short, sharp Time Trial, with riders having to contend with the task of trying to wake one’s legs up with rain, a strong headwind and muddy roads. Dom Dudkiewicz, Marcus Nyeholt and Tommy Gray were the three riders to make the best of the tough conditions and take the wins in the 3 grades.
Stage 2 saw riders head off for 2 laps out to the base of Granite road, with the headwind and chilly temperatures making life hard. The first Balliang loop was reasonably comfortable with only a few little surges – Dom just testing out his power meter. Once the road turned towards Granite road, there was a little more gutter action, but the bunch was all together as they hit the short climb on Staughton Vale road. The main players in A grade just eased off the front with a few B grade riders tagging on and it looked like it could split – but it was back together again a short time later. The A-Grade breakaway, which consisted of Dom Dudkiewicz, Miles DaCosta and Travis Small put a lot of pressure on the bunch and many B-Graders were in a world of trouble, but once the break left the bunch, the B Grade race settled down for another loop of Balliang. On the second approach to Staughton Vale road Josh Zammit pushed off the front, dragging out a couple of other riders. Again though, everything came back together on the run down to Granite Road. With several surges on the way back to Balliang things were always close to splitting up, but it only served to completely sap the legs of everyone in the bunch. Another surge by Josh and Patrick Varas almost managed to get clear, but was reeled back as the road turned to a headwind. The final 5 km were ridden in almost slow motion as no-one was able to get any separation off the front, and eventually the “sprint” became a case of who’s legs would cramp later, with Patrick Varas taking a hard earned win just clear of Josh Zammit and Daniel Welch. C-Grade saw a host of riders throwing in multiple attacks; we had Al Delooze, James Black, Graeme Cole and Paul Downes all trying their hands at various attacks, with Mark Micallef doing his best to bring them all back on the way to taking the 3 sprints. Perennial serial attacker Phil Tehan made the whole bunch suffer on the final lap of Balliang; with Mark Micallef jumping first and taking the win from Ross Liley and Phil Tehan.
The scene was set for a showdown at the Little River’s infamous Kirksbridge circuit for Stage 3 and as you would expect, each grade’s leader was put to the test in what could be described as trial by continual breakaway.
In C-Grade, continual attacks by Al Delooze, Graeme Cole and Andrew Rossiter saw eventual winner Mark Micallef pushed to the limit. Weathering and bringing back all breakaways, 51 year old Werribee resident Micallef cemented his lead with 2 sprint wins and it was all on for the run to the finish line. ‘Big Al’ Delooze rounded the last corner hell-bent on one more attack, and had the bunch on the rivet and strung out, with Micallef, Ross Liley and Phil Tehan jumping past Delooze to take first to third respectively. “I am a pretty happy guy to win on my 10th attempt; especially given that it has only been three months since a car broke my neck. It means a lot to close the book on that chapter of my life.”
In B-Grade, Marcus Nyeholt also had to face a barrage of attacks; his determination to hold on to his lead not made any easier by the combined start. Nyeholt did however manage to continue to take significant sprint points and build his lead, which was fortunate given how well second placed Josh Zammit performed in the sprints. The final run to the line saw Glen Grbesa take the stage win from Thomas Rebesco and Daniel Welch, with Nyeholt holding off Zammit for the GC win and Patrick Varas a very creditable third.
In A-Grade, Dominik Dudkiewicz made it 4 Tours in a row by making the most of today’s race and building his lead in the general classification along the way. The Main Race got off to a relatively slow start, until Jason Costin attacked and spent over a lap off the front, with no one keen to do any work in the bunch and happy to leave him out there. Costin held on until he was caught just after the first sprint. Paul Kenny and Ben O’leary went off the front soon after and spent half a lap in front of the bunch until they were caught about half way along the top straight (2.5 laps into the race). After the breakaway was brought back Dudkiewicz I decided it would be a good time to attack, putting in a solid effort and building good distance between himself and then chasing bunch. The chasing bunch then began to organise the chase with in a nice co-operative echelon across the road, until DaCosta attacked the bunch in the gutter soon after, taking Small and Bonello with him. Dudkiewicz could see the three working hard together to bring him in, but he upped the effort and continued to make ground, finished 2 minutes up after his 30 km solo to take the Stage win and the GC, with Bonello taking second and Small third in the stage. Speaking at the presentations at DiCaprios, Dudkiewicz acknowledge the mammoth efforts of the Club to put on such a quality event, and enjoyed also picking up his Criterium Aggregate as well as his fourth Tour Sash in a row to cap off a great day’s racing.
Final Results – After Stage 3:
Main Race: 1st Dom Dudkiewicz, 2nd Miles DaCosta, 3rd Travis Small, 4th Andrew Bonello, 5th Paul Kenny, 6th Jason Costin, 7th Gerard Zammit, 8th Ben O’Leary.
Sprint King: Dom Dudkiewicz.
B Grade: 1st Marcus Nyeholt, 2nd Joshua Zammit, 3rd Patrick Varas, 4th Daniel Welch, 5th Thomas Rebesco, 6th Michael Dam, 7th Glen Grbesa, 8th Glen Wright, 9th Ben Norden, 10th David Walker, 11th Brenard O’Sullivan.
Sprint King: Josh Zammit.
C Grade: 1st Mark Micallef, 2nd Ross Liley, 3rd Phillip Tehan, 4th David Lane, 5th Michael Hazeldine, 6th Alastair Delooze, 7th Graeme Cole, 8th Paul Downes, 9th James Black, 10th Ian Duffin.
Sprint King: Mark Micallef.