THE SHIMANO SUPERCRIT
We began our morning with a mad smash down the Moonee Creek bicycle path as we hit up the ever reliable Freestyle Espresso in South Melbourne for a pre race day briefing. As expected of an Allpress venue, the caffé lattes were as some kids on instagram would describe as being: "on point". Post caffeination and it was a quick roll in bike and car to the course in the slightly more (completely) industrial section of Port Melbourne. Upon arriving at the course we said hello's to a few friends we spotted by the start finish line, before making our way around the course whilst the junior support ran their race. We opted for a pleasant spot on the back straight, uninterrupted and shady. It was shortly after that the guys from Skid.cc plus friends arrived from their "just easy" 160km pre crit ride down the bay. They were over the moon to see shade and lawn to lay down upon, but still had enough energy to lead the heckling for the afternoon.
I: ELITE WOMENS RACE
The women's race started in a flurry with a number of different attacks here and there, and in a literal case of "blink and you will miss it" we got distracted by a wayward Mazda trying to leave the dealership and lost track of who was in the front.
All of a sudden there were a few riders completely in no mans land, but still pushing a really strong pace. Soon each lap turned into guessing who was getting dropped, and who was pushing further and further ahead. We were on the back straight so we didn't have the soothing voice of Matt Keenan to keep up up to date with standings and random yet wonderful statistics. This was the first time some of us had attended a criterium live, is this what its always like when they're not on TV? Then again as avid motorsport fans surely we would be able to keep track of the field, but apparently not. Maybe the women were going too fast for us.
It was halfway through the race or so where the #summervibes truly came to attention. Partly cloudy skies opened up and let some crisp high twenties sun beam down as we snapped photos track side, patted numerous race going puppy dogs and got amongst the forest in the lead to Rapha corner. There was even the opportunity to spot the new Holden Barina Sport X, which carsguide gave a thumbs up to it being "hot" which wasn't explicitly stated, more of a "you know what...yeah maybe it is!" Considering one of the cars in our fleet of Soup Boys team support vehicles is a Barina too, it was only fair that we took the moment to pay tribute to such an iconic vehicle.
When we returned to the back straight, it became evident that the rider atop her Cervelo was not in fact making a break for home, but trying to latch onto the back of the bunch, which a few laps later she managed to her credit. We're not sure if she was aware but by the time she did the pace ramped up again as they head for home. Arguably with the best position on the track, we saw the flurry of activity out of turn 3, with riders aiming to hit Rapha corner well towards the front to give them even a slight hope of victory. Some who had spent the afternoon holding on for dear life were content with just chilling a bit at the back, we wholeheartedly agree with that style.
RACE STANDINGS: TOP 3
1. Valentina Scandolara (Roxsolt/Orica-AIS)
2. Chloe Hosking (Wiggle High5)
3. Chloe McConville (Orica-AIS)
1. Chloe Baggs for surviving her knock into the gutter on the back straight. Never good to get taken down in the middle of the bunch. No doubt we will see her back out there soon smashing it.
2. Tessa Fabry for rocking the bib short length, emphasis on "short". We are all about paying homage to the old school, whether intentional or not, and that length is truly "old school".
3. Attacking! There was plenty of it in this race, and we love it. There's a beauty in the differences in strategy between the men's and women's racing, and the attacking nature of this forty five minute race made it all the more fun to watch from the shade.
II: GOOD, BAD & UGLY
- Freestyle Espresso delivering the goods re: caffé lattes, as always.
- Despite banking 160 odd kilometres, when the guys arrived on the back straight they were in high spirits, and much to their credit stuck it out for most of the day.
- The bountiful shade on the back straight. We couldn't believe such lush greenery, providing shelter from the harsh rays went so completely untapped throughout the day. For the most part (sans a few temporary visitors) we were the only ones to take advantage. Odd.
- That Ben Lehner guy. Two words: tongues wagging.
- Seeing all the photo friends out and about doing their thing. We will be profiling each and every one of you in coming weeks/months/maybe even years.
- The official arrival of #summervibes after Melbourne's weather for the first half of December left A LOT to be desired.
- Whoever was behind the wheel of the Renault warm up lap car getting mostly sideways on the exit of turn 3 down to turn 4. If there was any unclaimed prize money from the day, they deserved it for the max doeys.
- The Soup Boys certified "Bangers" on Rapha corner. If the DJ hung around any longer things would have truly gotten a bit, as the kids say "turnt".
- Seeing Gerro (Ben's mate). He tried to tee up an introduction pre race, but as expected of such a pro, his head was well in the game.
- Ouzo frozen yoghurt. Acquired from where the old lolly shop on Bay St, Port Melbourne used to be.
- Where oh where was Lee Turner? For a man who is so audacious with his (strictly?) bright self appointed dress code he is near impossible to track down. Lee! If you're reading this (which we're sure you are) come say hi at a race next time. We would love to interview you!
- The lack of airhorns. We don't really know why but we always kind of assumed that the Supercrit would be a little more akin to Dutch Corner. Maybe thats something were going to have to roll out on the back straight for next time.
- Adrian forgot to ask for the omission of bacon to his breakfast order, spent the day milling on it. Hard.
- The lack of roadside sunflower plantations for taking photos in the middle of. Although the local Holden dealership made do for the time being.
- We are avid fans, nay – Brand Ambassadors of Canon and their photographic products...however, in what market is there a 24-105mm f4L sized gap that needed to be filled?
- The constant interruptions of people trying to leave the Mazda dealership next door in the midst of a bike race. Do the crowds, the lycra, the formal presence of a bike race and the #summervibes not give it away enough?
- Forgetting how pricey frozen yoghurt joints always are, only to remember as you hand over a $20 note in exchange for a few hundred grams of ice cream...wait frozen yoghurt headache filled goodness.
- Crashes. There was only a few, and for the most part we missed them but as riders spun around lap after lap, or limped across the finish line, or in the unfortunate case of a few, sought help from the medical professionals we were reminded of the sometimes unforgiving nature of bicycle racing.
- The sunburns. Most if not all abided by both the "No Hat No Play" & "Slip, Slop, Slap" rules instilled in us from primary school, yet a few still managed to get a little toasted on the day. Give it a few days and it will be the foundation for our summer tan lines.
- The morning weather being slightly too hot for the required criterium-side espressi. That being said we indulged and caffeinated anyway, thanks Johan!
- Not necessarily ugly, but with the real potential to have ended up so; riders shooting wide on the back straight and almost into four, possibly five young adolescents (us) peering down our viewfinders, unaware of our close shave with death.
- It might be ugly now, and the buildings that may erect on the site might be even more so, but part of the block at the top of the home straight, the one currently a barren wasteland was the site of Harry and Adrian's old university. Fortunately now vacant and demolished. It's finding beauty in ugliness, something truly poetic.
III: ELITE MENS RACE
The elite men joined the course as the women warmed down from their race, and it was a chance to spot some of the greats of Australian sport. Riders like Gerro, Gerro Jnr (Mitch Docker), dutch but honorary Aussie on account of Juddy Koen de Kort, as well as a hot of super hot, super fast locals.
Whilst we were caught by surprise in the women's race, this time we were prepared for max doeys on the back straight by whoever was aboard the Renault formation car, and again we were NOT disappointed. May we please put a request for more max doeys at future criterium races.
As they came around the back straight on the first lap the field was already torn to shreds in a way, with people trying real hard to slot into crucial positions in the bunch pretty early. In paying homage to Bring Back The Biff, there was heaps of yelling, and no doubt some arms, elbows and legs thrown out to help the maneuvering, but we wont name any names. Through the race the apocalyptic vibes of the Pedla camo kits featured either at the front of the bunch or in small breakaways, getting heaps of that TV time in. Soon fatigue crept in, because you know watching guys duel it out in the sun from the comfort of shade is exhausting work. The guys who hit the ride in the morning headed home, and we began moving around towards the start finish line in hope that we could see some mini bunchies for the intermediate sprints, say hi to Keeno, and get a chance to interview sartorial ~god~ Lee Turner. None of these eventuated. Unless you count seeing two guys cruise over the finish line to take points honours then getting sucked back into the main field.
It was decided that Rapha corner was the best spot to catch the final few laps, and we certainly weren't disappointed. As the padding on telephone and street poles near the exit of the corner showed us, its a truly extreme finale to the race, challenging riders yet to submit an entry to give it their best shot and take home the #cornerlikecaseystoner prize. With some hella beats being played from the Rapha tent, and Jonesy gramming furiously from inside the corners apex, we watched as Team Budget Forklifts assembled as if called by Ron Burgundy himself. With a few laps left the result was called as many around us, like an angelic church choir announced the fact in unison. Once his team got him around the final corner unscathed, Scott Sundo' as he is so affectionately known by in the cycling media (which now includes us) shot home for his second win in as many years. It was always going to be a case of who would get the minor places.
RACE STANDINGS: TOP 3
1. Scott Sunderland (Budget Forklifts)
2. Shannon Johnson (Charter Mason)
3. Jonathan Cantwell (SKCC)
1. Koen de Kort from Giant Alpecin chucking a mad solo break all in the name of Juddy, see pics. It was short lived, but no doubt the great man smiled wherever he was.
2. Team Budget Forklifts for taking out the innaugural #cornerlikecaseystoner competition on the last corner of the last lap of the race. The fact that they did it whilst wearing Borussia Dortmund jerseys in honour of recently departed (to Liverpool, not dead...although same thing) manager Jurgen Klopp.
3. Slightly more race oriented this time, but its Budget Forklifts again. With three laps left, if you had money on anyone other than Scott Sunderland, you would cash out and head home. They moved to the front on Rapha corner with a few laps left and from there it was as the Trapped Under Ice song goes "Big Kiss Good-night!". Sundo gets his back to back.
A segment that we are naming after friend and bearer of the Instagram handle. We are hoping it will catch on, because who doesn't love bikes and dogs, and both of them in the same place? There were more dogs spotted than just these two, believe us when we say that. These were just the stand outs. Particularly the pair of Christmas pups on the left. Expect future (much more comprehensive) documentation of dogs and their owners in future race reports.
V: CORNER LIKE CASEY STONER
The worlds very first #cornerlikecaseystoner competition did not disappoint one bit, particularly towards the end of the men's elite race. As previously mentioned, Team Budget Forklifts took the prize home for their efforts over the final few laps, but there were certainly several notable mentions that we have on display below.