The Footscray Cycling Club’s Christmas Classic Criteriums were held in hot, windy, challenging racing conditions at the V.U.T. track in Hoppers Crossing, with all grades starting early to beat the heat. C and D had the best of the conditions, with temperatures still relatively mild and no wind to speak of, but just as A and B rolled up to the line, up came the dreaded Northerly and the pain began.
A-Grade’s race was dominated by a break from the get-go, with Miles DaCosta, Travis Small and eventual winner Dom Dudkiewicz heading off in an early break that was initiated by DaCosta. ‘I saw the guys go up the road and rode across to them, and we worked together for a while. Eventually I attacked and was solo for the rest of the race.’ Dudkiewicz just kept riding tempo and lapped the field, taking home the Christmas Classic sash and looking like an early favourite for the 2015/6 Criterium Aggregate, with Small taking a lonely and hot second place from Paul Kenny.
Like A-Grade, B-Grade’s race was dominated by the change for the worse in the weather; the increasing strength of the hot Northerly picking off rider after rider as the race progressed and the attacks continued. ‘I just kept my head down and kept holding the wheel. Eventually I looked back and there were only 5 or 6 riders left; it shocked me as I’m usually toast on a hot day.’ B-Grade veteran, 51 year old Mark Micallef was in the select bunch at the end; all trying to weather ADF rider Marty Lewis’ barrage of attacks in the last third of the race. ‘Marty was really smashing us up, doing a great job too, but my secret weapon worked. At the start of the race, I filled all of my jersey pockets with ice, and had a stocking full of ice around my neck. I think I was carrying about 5 kilos of ice at the start of the race!’ On the bell lap, Lewis attacked, with Micallef stuck to his wheel, and a small gap opened up to the other three riders. ‘I managed to hold his wheel, and Marty, being the honest rider he is, just ran straight down the middle in the headwind sprint so of course I ground past him to get the win.’ Micallef took the win and the medallion narrowly from Lewis, with Josh Ryan taking third.
In C-Grade, 16 year old Bacchus Marsh student Josh Grieve took a sprint win from another up-and-comer, Seb Chetcuti, with a barnstorming ride. Geelong CC rider Grieve powered along on the front for much of the race, earning the win the hard way. ‘Today’s race was way hotter than ideal. During the race I attacked many times, all unsuccessful besides one. With 1 lap to go I attacked hard and jumped onto another riders’ wheel and I called out to him to go hard as the bunch had hesitated; he went extremely hard almost dropping me in the process! Then I saw him blow up on top of the small rise, so I briefly looked back, saw the 30 Metre gap and went absolutely all out! I held the bunch off by 10 – 15 metres in the end.’ Grieve is new to racing and has made some serious plans. ‘I began mountain biking just over a year ago and to gain some fitness I brought a road bike and I never looked back. Ever since the mountain bike has been gathering dust in the shed! Road cycling has become more than a hobby; it’s my passion. I love it. My dream is to be good enough to travel the world doing what I love and hopefully getting paid to do it! Since December I’ve been with Kelly Cycle Coaching and they have been magnificent to me and have helped me in my development so much. Dom Dudkiewicz has also helped me so much with training, nutrition and life in general. Everything is starting to come together with today’s win at Footscray and I’m super stoked about it!’ Grieve took the sprint from Chetcuti in second and James Bell in third.
In D-Grade, veteran rider and Grade Instructor Barry Cram gave the riders a briefing before the race, Cram laying out their options. ‘I let the boys and girls know that as a trophy race, they could either go hell for leather, or ride smoothly and hard, but stay intact. To their credit they chose the latter.’ So after riding smoothly all race, second time racer Anthony Gercovic took the sprint from the very in-form pair of Garry Day and James Stuart; Gercovic making his mark on the bunch with a last-lap move that left him a handy gap that he managed to keep all the way to the line.
A: 1st Dom Dudkiewicz, 2nd Travis Small, 3rd Paul Kenny, 4th Jason Costin, 5th Peter McQuade.
B: 1st Mark Micallef, 2nd Martin Lewis, 3rd Josh Ryan, 4th Matt Johnson, 5th Tim Robertson.
C: 1st Josh Grieve, 2nd Seb Chetcuti, 3rd James Bell, 4th Thomas Rebesco, 5th David Lane.
D: 1st Anthony Gercovic, 2nd Garry Day, 3rd James Stuart, 4th Michael Hazeldene, 5th Tommy Gray.