Sunny skies, a gentle breeze and moderate temperatures greeted riders for the Footscray Cycling Club’s Club Legends criteriums, held out at the V.U.T. circuit in Hoppers Crossing. The annual event, held in honour of the late Harry Jones and Hugh Cram, as well as the Club’s living legend, Frank Zanatta, is a hotly contested race largely due to the immense respect Club members have for the three Club Legends and the selfless dedication each of these men showed to cycling in general and the Footscray Cycling Club in particular, racking up over 150 years of volunteer service between the three.
A-Grade’s race was taken in a tight sprint by Footscray’s most consistent and talented rider, Dominik Dudkiewicz; the 32 year old Melton resident bemused by the way the race unfurled. “Today’s race was completely different to almost every other race we have had this season; we were all rolling around after the control lap like we were still under control, it was a nervous start.” After the first Intermediate Sprint was taken by Dudkiewicz, the race livened up a little. “After the first sprint we were all attacking each other for a while, but then we just backed off and there were no serious attacks or efforts; it was odd.” After Dudkiewicz took the second Intermediate sprint, the pace again settled until the final bunch sprint, which saw Dudkiewicz pushed hard by Matthew Heath, who was finishing fast just out of Dudkiewicz’s sight. “I couldn’t feel Matty on my wheel, and as I approached the line I just eased off a little when I heard him coming and I had to give it a little more juice”, Dudkiewicz crossing the line just ahead of Heath in second and Andrew Bonello in third.
B-Grade’s race was a race of surprises, with Bulleen resident Vito Depetro taking the win after participating in a very early 3 man breakaway that survived all the way to the end. Lyndon Blackeley and I went for the first sprint, and after Lyndon took the sprint the field was spread out and we had a really good gap, so we thought we should keep going. Daniel Hopper then came across to us and it was just what we needed.” With the bunch working hard but inconsistently, the breakaway got more confident and more distant. “For 35 minutes, we smashed it, we raced like legends to win the legends race. The bunch got very close with about 3 laps to go, so we ramped it up again and Lyndon took me around the last corner and I took the win, but the three of us all won really.” 46 year old Depetro took the win from Blackeley and Hopper in third, with Matthew Johnson taking the bunch sprint for fourth.
In C-Grade, a lively pace saw several riders shelled, including the unlucky Seb Chetcuti who came second for both Intermediate Sprints but blew up after the second sprint to go out the back, with Thomas Rebesco taking the first sprint and David Macpherson the second; racing then settled into a solid pace until the final bunch sprint, with Frank Crifo just edging out the youthful exuberance of Thomas Rebesco in second and Simon Perryman in third.
In D-Grade, new rider Shawn Smith took a cautious approach to the first half of the race, conserving his energy for the first Intermediate Sprint (which was taken by James Stuart), but unleashing an attack before the second Intermediate Sprint, taking the sprint, and continuing on his merry way, going for a very long and hard solo breakaway that resulted in his taking a commanding lead of over three-quarters of a lap; Smith crossing the line spent but elated, with James Stuart taking the bunch sprint and a distant second place and Tom Moloney third place.
A: 1st Dom Dudkiewicz, 2nd Matthew Heath, 3rd Andrew Bonello, 4th Paul Kenny, 5th Paul Anders.
B: 1st Vito Depetro, 2nd Lyndon Blackeley, 3rd Daniel Hopper, 4th Matt Johnson, 5th Brett Manning.
C: 1st Frank Crifo, 2nd Thomas Rebesco, 3rd Simon Perryman, 4th Greg Lane, 5th James Bell.
D: 1st Shawn Smith, 2nd James Stuart, 3rd Tom Moloney, 4th Walter Chetcuti, 5th Ray Moriaty.