Parklands is a favourite of mine, not a true criterium circuit, 4km in length, 3 moderate corners, a 400m climb and a descent straight after on less than perfect road surface, but for me it is a circuit that suits my strengths.
I went out with a simple plan, be active, get involved in any breakaways. Failing that, launch an attack with a lap to go from the top of the climb (my favourite part of the course) and try and solo the 5km or so to the finish. Plan C was attack from the top of the climb on the final lap, unfortunately I had used that tactic before, so I did not expect much success with that tactic, even though the rider who chased me down last time was now in C grade, most of the other riders including the guy who won were racing today.
The bunch was the usual suspects with one new addition, a young guy I later found out to be called Travis, who had raced B grade in the past. But was coming back from a long break, working away. He was full of beans, by the end of the 1st lap he had enough of the slow and steady pace and launched an attack, nobody else reacted, so I made my way onto his wheel. But before I got my breath back to take a turn, the pack was on my wheel. Travis attacked again, I didn’t even get a chance to react and the pack was on his wheel. His third attempt was up the short climb, he only got a small gap. So I took my chance, went hard, drove past him on the descent and hoped he got my wheel. He did and we got a small break. We kept working together, though the great bulk of the work was done by Travis. Then half a lap or lap and a half later, Dave made the bridge across. Unfortunately Dave is a strong rider and a far better sprinter than me, having won here last time and a couple of seconds to his credit at the Motorplex. So I did put in a quick surge to try and dislodge him, but that appeared to dislodge Travis, because Dave was still stuck to my wheel.
So the three of us, started working together, it was still Travis doing the bulk of the work with me and Dave contributing. After 32 minutes racing I crested the climb and moved to the front to take my turn and suddenly I found I had a decent gap on the other two. Tactics time, race distance was 35 minutes and one lap, we where covering the laps in just under seven minutes, which meant if the race director felt sorry for us, he would give us the bell at 34 minutes and lots or seconds, or we would get the bell after over 41 minutes of racing. While I felt I could stay ahead of these two for a lap and definitely ahead of the bunch. I was far less confident of staying away for two laps and more worried the bunch might catch the other two, then me. Seeing I never podiumed in D grade, I decided discretion over valour and waited for my two companions, at least the worst result I could get would be a 3rd.
After that show of strength, I just sat on the front, as we got the bell at 34 minutes+ and I stayed on the front most the way round the circuit, happily tapping out a good steady pace. On the final climb the two went past me, I just stuck to the wheel in front until we got over the crest and then launched my attack. 500m later I glance under my arm, I had a decent gap, through the two kinks, I ease up a little, another 300m later, I look under my arm again, there is a bike closing quickly. I drive for the line 300m away, getting closer to the line I here the crowd shouting, I keeping pushing as hard as I can, as I cross the line I glance to my left, another bike but about 10cm back, I win by all of 0.0035 of a second, with third less than half a second away. The rest of the group over 90 seconds back.
My race on Strava
My two breakaway companions later confided they, thought I had gone too early and were more interested on being on each others wheel, till the got through the kink with about 600m to go, realised the gap and then had to work together to try and catch me.
Very happy with my result, though I will be brought back to earth next week racing at the Motorplex, with its’ tight corners. Will also need new tactics next time I race at Parklands.