LEWIS Rattray showed why he is Victoria’s best cyclo-cross rider with an outstanding comeback in the inaugural state championships at Bundoora Park on Sunday.
Rattray clawed his way back to the lead after an early chain slip to take out the extremely fast Men’s Elite race by a handful of seconds. Allan Iacoune finished second.
In the Women’s Elite race, Mel Ansett led from start to finish in a dominant display. But it was far from easy. “It was very hard out there. I was suffering the whole time,” said Ansett. “I don’t ride in a bunch much so I like to be by myself.”
But it was Rattray who claimed ride of the day. After the mechanical incident on Lap 6 that dropped him back to fifth, a determined Rattray began to whittle away the lead of Iacoune and Adrian Jackson. Taking a few seconds each lap, Rattray’s faster riding pressured the frontrunners to take more risks, causing Jackson to misjudge a barrier and fall out of title contention.
Eventually the hard work paid off for Rattray and he rejoined Iacoune at the front with seven laps remaining. There he continued his higher pace before his final lap surge broke Iacuone.
“It was an amazing job to get across to us after his accident and he slipped his chain,” said Iacoune. “I was hoping to get him on the last lap and gap him around the back of the course but unfortunately he gapped me.”
“I thought Allan would probably roll me in a sprint so I thought I’d go for it a bit earlier,” Rattray said. “I got over the barriers and into my pedals quickly and I was in front so I just attacked and put my head down.”
Earlier, the Masters division was won by Alpine Cycling Club’s Matt Grey.
Gareth Heitmann (Carnegie Caulfield CC), who survived multiple punctures including one on the final lap, threw his bike over his shoulder and ran the final metres to take out the B Grade Men’s category while Emma Best (MTBA) won the Women’s B Grade event.
In the first race of the day, the Under 15 Victorian cyclo-cross title was won by fourteen year old Liam Jefferies (MTBA). Liam’s ride was arguably the second most impressive of the day, managing to comprehensively defeat Penrith’s Jack Edwards across the line. This is particularly impressive for two reasons – Edwards won the Under 17 title, and he is also the current Under 17 Australian Champion in a number of road and track events (Pursuit, Scratch Race & Criterium).
A special mention must also be made to Mark Drehlich, Cycling Victoria’s Development Manager, who completed the Open Men’s race on his trusty old mountain bike.