Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cronulla capers - racing in the Shire

I've always liked Cronulla - wide streets, endless beaches... and the ferry to Bundeena. The fact that it's almost on a peninsula - surrounded on 3 sides by water - Botany Bay, Port Hacking and the Pacific Ocean - has arguably preserved its charm, high rise blemishes not withstanding. Strangely it has a heavy rail line (which replaced the old steam tram, but I guess that's another story) a bit of a luxury for such a small pocket of Sydney. It's a great place to hold a bike race. And so they did.

Now it was great to get live TV coverage - but as usual we had ill-timed ad breaks when riders went away, and when we came back to the action we got a long interview with a rugby league coach. Oh well.

Great, dominating ride by Kate Nicols to win the women's crit. As for the elite male racing, it was great to see Rabo's Brown win and Disco's White making impressive attacks... but it had a feel to it, somewhat akin to "off season" or "staged". Now it may have been absolutely legit, but firstly we saw McEwen go away in a break and then get caught (so the public got to see the road sprinter in action); followed by a successful break and a home-town win (just!) by the pro sprinter. Hmmm. Local boy Whitey was 3rd. Hmmm. Now I'm convinced the locals were indeed trying - no question about it (great rides by local crit specialists Jose Rodriguez and Peter McDonald, btw) - but the pros were taking it a bit easy, surely? I have seen similar local crit fields blown apart (and lapped) by just one pro on his "off season" break... but who would profit from seeing that under the gaze of the crowds and TV cameras? No-one one, really. The pros want to put on a show - that's their job - and don't want to crush the locals just for the sake of it. And that's exactly what we got. It was great to watch, anyway.

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