In a shock turn of events, 2010 series champion Lewis Rattray has had the 2011 Dirty Deeds Urban cyclo-cross series wrestled from his hands, being defeated in the third and final race by Red Shift Racing’s Andrew Blair.
Blair had once again flown down from Canberra for Sunday’s race, and seemed eager to make amends for his below par showings in the first and second rounds. On a sunny day in Brunswick’s Harrison Street Velodrome he was finally able to display the form that has taken him to podium places in mountain bike races across the globe.
He didn’t have it all his own way, however. Two riders from IRide bikes were keen to make an impression in the first few laps, and gapped the field before the first trip through the mud pit. Perhaps keen to get some impressive footage for his helmet-cam, iRide’s Mikkeli Godfree seemed to dig himself into a sizable hole in the first ten minutes, staying away for the first lap before fading to a mid-pack finish. When he was eventually reeled in it was by a blue-ribbon group containing Blair, Rapha Condor-Sharp’s Casey Munro, Kosdown Racing’s Cam MacKenzie and former Australian Road Race Champion Alan Iacone.
Eventually Rattray was able to latch on to this group, pulling My Mountain’s Mat Gray with him, but expending a great deal of energy in the process.
As Blair stretched the elastic it was only Munro and MacKenzie who were able to go with him. The pair, both riding borrowed bikes from Melbourne Cycling Edge, swapped places a number of times, with MacKenzie able to gap Munro on the paved sections due to the latter’s lack of gears, but Munro making up ground through the stickier mud sections of the course.
In the final ten minutes of the race Blair skipped away from his two pursuers, making the race his own and throwing the battle for the series title into disarray. Behind him Munro and MacKenzie continued to trade blows until the bitter end, with former the former Brunswick Cycling Club clinic kid Munro using his experience on the velodrome to pip MacKenzie at the post. Iacone continued to improve his placings with a fourth, with Rattray sprinting to get around Gray for fifth.
Organizers and spectators alike were downright stoked to have a number of women racing in A grade, and they did not disappoint. The women’s field impressed many fighting heroically through the mud and slush, and giving a number of their male counterparts a run for their money. Amy Bradley took out her second Cyclo-cross race for the season, eventually stealing the win from Nadine Le Mescam in emphatic style.
Former source of hilarity Tom "The Man in White" Coltrain took the final Dirty Deeds race much more seriously this time around, and in the process took the win from a fine B grade field. Previously known for wallowing in the mud-pit sans bike, Coltrain proved that his CX talent is no laughing matter with an emphatic victory from Jason Butler, with Brunswick Cycling Club’s own Andrew Blake coming home third.
In the women’s B grade Diane Nelson once again proved too strong for her fellow competitors, arm-wrestling Port-Adelaide’s Gemma Kernich and local favourite Laura Choong into submission. Diane’s demoralising win has surely earned her an A Grade start when the muddy season starts again next year.
The Boy’s race saw some of the closest racing of the whole series, with Liam Jeffries and Sam "the 35-Year-Old-Teenager" Wilson, both representing Trailmix, clinging to each other like limpets throughout the entire fifteen minutes. Taking a significant lead from the field early, the two duked it out until finally Jeffries emerged triumphant, with Wilson resigned to second. Adam Blazevic, a number of years their junior, flew into third place.
In the Girl’s race Brunswick Cycling Club’s Emily Hughes once again proved both her mettle and her good sense, flying off the front of the bunch in the first lap, but wearing a pair of gumboots to avoid ruining her good cycling shoes. The irrepressible Georgia Wilson kept the dancing to a minimum but still smiled her way into second place, with Bairnsdale Cycling Club’s Emily Jackson taking out third.
Merida Flight Centre’s Adrian Jackson had been equal leader of the series aggregate going into this race, and a win in the open men’s category (no bike restrictions) guaranteed that he would be standing on the aggregate podium come presentation time. And win he did, lapping almost everyone else in the field. When the news finally came that Lewis had finished fifth in the Cyclo-cross category AJ, with three straight wins, realized that he had clinched the series, without ever racing the bloke who came second. Such are the quirks particular to Dirty Deeds. Behind him Stuart Brown and James Deane watched each other for the whole thirty minutes, until Stuart finally muscled his way into second, relegating James into third.
And, finally, Amity McSwann clinched the Women’s Aggregate with another dominant performance through the mud and slush. Amity shot off from the whistle, and was rarely seen again by the other competitors. Behind her, however, it was a slogfest, with Erica Gunner and Nicole Whitburn trading places like Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd. Eventually Erica emerged triumphant, with Nicole awarded third after the dust had settled (and the confusion cleared).
As the sun sets on another Dirty Deeds Urban Cyclocross Series Melbourne’s new cyclocross can begin to look further afield for their racing, to Lysterfield’s Cross Melburn series, and even interstate, to Port Adelaide’s CX and the City or races in New South Wales and Queensland.