A voluntary grading system was used for the Dangarsleigh Scratch race yesterday which perhaps unsurprisingly resulted in a very big group of people initially opting for B-Grade and a very small one for A. After Kirky and a few others were relocated, A-Grade set off at a reasonable pace, followed a minute later by the big bunch.
It wasn’t long before a few legs were stretched in A-Grade and Holly Harris was the first to launch any kind of meaningful attack just at the moment David Cook peeled off with a puncture. Holly was quickly joined by brother Mick and they succeeded in stringing the race out on the rollers after Peterson’s. It stayed single file until Dangarsleigh Hall when Dave Munday cruised up the inside before winding things up with one of his trademark out-of-the-saddle bursts. This quickly split the bunch into 3 groups with the latter two scrambling to reconnect. Dave Harris’s very dapper but very flappy shorts were overcome by the headwind and it took a big effort from Hammy to reconnect, with Houlty, Holly and Kirky in tow.
Back down the road in B-Grade, matters were far more controlled although Jo and Jacqui, who chased hard until Peterson’s, resigned themselves to another ITT once the winery was behind. As in the race ahead, it was at Dangarsleigh Hall that things really kicked when Johnny, Rob Tindale and Angus Apps drove things along up-front. Their minds on bigger matters and legs training for longer ordeals, Bill Mara and Phil Thomas slipped off the back with Chris Stace keeping them company at this point while Katherine Hosking and Carl Hooton put in a good effort to remain in contact.
By the turn, A-Grade was down to five in number with Dave Munday and Mick Hoult ensuring the pace stayed high. There were some minor cat and mouse games played on the climb up from the Monument but the anticipated attack on the hill didn’t occur until Knobs Road when Mick Harris took office and quickly gained around 30m on the group.
Further back, Cookie had fixed his puncture and made record time catching and then working with Holly and Hammy on the return leg. B-Grade caught Dave Harris who tagged on for the ride and up-front the Tindale/Cannibal combo continued to take on the workload with good assistance from Col and Angus Apps.
With Mick Harris unable to extend his lead, A-Grade left him out to dry until over Peterson’s and then attacked each other over the final 2km with dramatic impact. Dave Munday showed serious form to pull away at the railway line and win by 10s from Iron Man Mick. Unusually for the Dangarsleigh course there was no bunch sprint with double-digit gaps between all five riders on the line.
B-Grade was a different matter entirely with the top nine riders winding up for a fast finish. Jason Simmonds showed his face for the first time with an audacious sprint from 400m out which was going well until Clint and Canny Col came around, timing their move perfectly despite a late charge from Johnny and Richard Wilkinson.
Congratulations to Dave and Clint on their win and well done to everyone for yet another well-contested scratch race. Big thanks to Lisa Harris for running the race and keeping everyone safe and sound. Next week is Round 1 of the 2018 Road Racer Handicap series with Richard Wilkinson sure to be working hard to defend his 2017 victory.