CYCLING: Wilkes times final sprint to perfection
CYCLING: Grafton cyclist Dion Wilkes timed his push for the lead to perfection, waiting until the final metres to claim his first Yamba Shores Tavern Criterium A Grade contest.
The seasoned cyclist utilised his position at the back of the lead breakaway to time an inside run on the final corner to take the race from fellow leaders Lindsey Wall, Jye Reardon and Coffs Harbour teenager Will McLennan.
Less than ideal conditions on the race morning did not help entry numbers in the annual event, but the lack of National Road Series riders opened the door for a competitive A Grade contest.
While Wilkes was proud to walk away with the win he said the race was "good training for harder events in the near future".
"Any win is a good win, and you have to be in it to win it," he said.
Yamba's Wall led the main group for much of the race but it was always a to and fro battle.
Wilkes said his strategy was to hold tight with the lead group in an effort to force a break from his fellow riders. With five minutes left in the race, he consigned himself to the fact no one was willing to, and settled in for a late charge in the sprint.
"I think everyone was trying to force the breakaway at some stage," he said. "But nothing was eventuating.
"But coming into the last lap Jye, Will and myself looked at each other and realised we were waiting for the sprint.
"Lindsey saw that and tried to capitalise by going early and he almost had us."
With Wall speeding off a bloc, McLennan charged after him to cover, and Reardon and Wilkes settled in behind in single file.
Wilkes praised the 15-year-old Coffs Harbour rider for not hesitating in chasing down a sprinting Wall.
"If we hesitated, because of the headwind in the back straight, we may not have got him back," Wilkes said.
Wilkes will now return to his intense training schedule ahead of the Masters World Road Series in Perth in early September.
It was an all-Grafton affair in the B Grade action with Grafton Cycle Club member Dave Fleming taking out the grade over fellow club members Paul O'Connor and Richard Hunt.
Grafton-based Lauralea Moss showed her dominance on two wheels to take out the Women's A Grade division while Coffs Harbour's Asher Fawle won Under 15s from local junior Elisha Gavin.