At the third attempt, the 2016 Club Road Race Championships were successfully completed on Saturday. Worthy overall winners on the day were Holly Harris (Womens) and Sam Jenner (Mens) following a hard-fought battle from 30 riders across the hilly 45km Armidale Long Swamp course. Although it was a massed start event, there were a number of races within the race with a very welcome turnout of both male and female U15 and U17 riders in particular.
Strong winds made the going tough with the race quickly fragmenting as riders fought for shelter on the first climb of the outward leg. Sam Jenner and Dave Munday were prominent at the front although there were no attacks at that point, just a gradual ramping up of the pace until around a dozen riders remained, strung out single file on the open ascent of Imbota. The Jennerator kicked into life a couple of times over the top, snapping the elastic further back and drawing out a solo lead which no one seemed willing to pull back. A complete absence of trees on the road this week meant the turn was safely navigated and as riders headed home on lap1, the extent to which the race had been blown apart became apparent.
At the front, the reverse ascent of Imbota provided some solid action as Dave Munday hit out to bridge across to Sam. Houlty then also set off in pursuit now leaving just five riders in the remnants of the pack to work together and reel them back in. Houlty was collected near the top but Dave made it to Sam’s wheel and the pair then started to work well, holding off the reformed group of six behind.
Further back, Holly Harris was leading the women’s race and showing strong legs in a bunch of six with Hammy, Josh, Lachie, Robbie T and a very tired looked Kirky. Then a bunch of five with Dr John, Wilko, Wilf, Lateboy Livings, Sam King and Peter Hoskings. In amongst the next group of riders was Dave Harris who’d had some seat post problems on the outward leg and was now hopping from group to group, taking whatever assistance he could get along the way. Katherine Hosking was also going well until her two male compatriots (Keglegs and Bourkey) pulled the pin leaving her marooned between groups for the rest of the race. Strong riding was also on display from sister Isabella, evergreen Jo Wauch and from Emily Wooster who paired up well with Jacqui King lapping at a very consistent 31 min pace throughout.
By the time Lap2 was finished, the bunches were well formed and with the lead pair still pulling away from their chasers (now 1:34s in arrears) there was little likelihood of a catch in sight. In the women’s category, Holly was also unthreatened, still comfortably positioned in the next bunch back.
Another circuit of pain was endured by all with the lap times starting to drop notably, particularly for those riding solo or stuck between the larger groups. Even the leaders backed off their relentless pace with confidence as they approached the final assault of Dump Hill, perhaps mindful of the tough finish. In the end it was the younger legs of Sam Jenner that rightly sealed victory but Dave Munday pushed him hard all the way to the line with another highly impressive ride. Holly rode away from most of her group at the end, averaging 35kph to claim the Women’s title and an excellent top 10 overall place.
Once again, congratulations to our worthy winners and all competitors and many thanks to family, friends, spectators, weather gods and the volunteer officials on the day for bringing this long-run saga to an exciting and safe conclusion.
Full category prizewinners will be formally recognised at the club awards night next month.
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