A conservative Ben Kersten (Fly V Australia) launched an aggressive sprint that saw him claim victory in the men’s Cronulla Grand Prix race and frustrate Chris Sutton (Garmin-Slipstream) with yet another podium place. Pre-race favourite Graeme Brown (Rabobank), who had flown in to his former home from Perth to contest the race, finished third one bike length behind Kersten and Sutton.
In the closing metres it looked as though Sutton would claim his first victory at the race, however a second burst from Kersten secured the former track rider victory. Both riders were forced to throw their bikes across the line; with Sutton’s force lifting his front wheel off the ground has he crossed the line.
“It was always going to be a bit tough for me I think, keeping up with these guys, they’re phenomenal and it’s always a great honour just to line up with them,” said Kersten, referring to Brown and Sutton. “I’m surprised and happy to get over the top of these two guys, they are some of the best we have in Australia.”
Sutton admitted that he left his sprint too late, missing what was a perfect opportunity after jumping off Matthew Wilson’s (Team Type 1) wheel. Wilson will move to Garmin in 2010, it was announced today, while Sutton will join British outfit Team Sky.
“I should have jumped but I looked and Brownie started coming around the outside so I jumped underneath but I didn’t have enough speed,” said Sutton. “Brownie came along the barriers but Benny was on the outside, so I had to switch across to the left and I gapped it, got a bit of a punch in but I just left it way too late. I should have started earlier.”
Brown poked fun at Sutton on the podium, pointing out the brigade of women cheering every time the local rider’s name was mentioned. “What more could you ask for, it is beautiful weather, a beautiful location and great spectators that cheer for CJ [Sutton] all the time,” he said.
The headwind which had been present during the day’s earlier races had increased by the time the men’s race commenced. Spectator numbers swelled as the elite men got underway, with Australian waterskiing champion Lauryn Eagle amongst the bikini-clad spectators that wander up from Cronulla’s beaches to watch the event.
Kersten led the field around the first hairpin turn before Blair Windsor set what would become a precedent for his Budget Forklift team-mates by attacking down the long straight. Windsor’s attack led to a group of eight riders leading at the front, which was quickly brought back in to the fold.
With that threat neutralised Brown broke away with Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo TestTeam) and Thomas Palmer (Drapac-Porsche) on his wheel. When the trio returned to the peloton Brodie Talbot and Brendan Jones tried their luck, only to have Sutton join them and the peloton surge to neutralise the threat.
New breaks continued to yo-yo back and forth over the following 10 laps, with Sutton present in, or bridging across to, the majority of the lead groups. The patterned looked to be broken as Wilson broke away after 15 laps of racing. Wilson stayed away for two laps until Palmer and Chris Prior (Fly V Australia) gave chase, prompting the formation of another seven-strong lead group which was soon brought back into the fold.
Drapac-Porsche’s Dean Windsor was forced to the opposite side of the down-and-back straight away to get around a slowed-down peloton as he launched a late attack. He was hunted down by Hunt and Cameron Jennings (Budget Forklifts), after which Jennings set the peloton’s pace for the final three laps.
The top sprinters moved to the front on the short climb at the course’s rear, before splitting off from the peloton as they launched their sprints on the decline towards the long finishing straight.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ben Kersten (Fly V Australia)|
|2||Chris Sutton (Garmin-Slipstream)|
|3||Graeme Brown (Rabobank)|