The 2017 Road Racer of the Year competition got underway today with riders competing in notably cooler autumnal conditions. The Dangarsleigh course lived up to its reputation for being quick with rapid times recorded across the board and 8 riders topping 40kph for the 30km out and back effort.
Even with six regulars battling it out in Bathurst at the NSW Hill Climb Championships there was a great turnout for the first round of the RROTY challenge with 31 riders rolling up to stake their claim for the season-long handicap competition.
Jacqui King was the lone front runner, ahead of the 5-minute group of Chris Stace, Captain Creagan, Emily Wooster and Alex Thomas. Four minutes behind them came a rapid-fire start of 26 riders in five groups, each just a single minute apart rounded off by the Scratch trio of Dave Cook and Dave and Hugh Munday. The unusually compressed start was a little too rapid for Rob Hale and Pete ‘Spartacus’ Harris who missed it completely, respectively earning a 14s and 21s chase to make contact with their Block group as a reward.
Just before the half-way mark, Block collected the 11-minute group and then having rounded the turn, picked up the 10-minute riders creating a bunch that struggled to find any kind of rhythm. There were some frustrated attacks from Holly, Johnny and Dave Harris and after lots of grumbling and head shaking the bunch began to get vaguely coordinated collecting Wilko’s 9-minute group making a 17-strong peloton that ebbed and flowed for a few km.
Up ahead, PC, Chris and Alex were still going well, having turned with a comfortable lead of just under 4 minutes on the main pack, this was still 2.5 minutes at the foot of the Monument, looking good for the win.
Despite their lack of rhythm, the big bunch behind was making reasonable progress and although there was no sign of the leaders ahead, there was also no sign of Scratch behind, not that anyone could see what was going on behind the snaking monster. As the riders neared Knobs Hill Road the inevitable attack occurred and a group of 7 riders broke free, quickly creating a gap of around 15s and more importantly, now just 85s behind the lead trio.
Now able to work together once more, the chasers combined well, unsure if they were chasing the leaders or trying to stay away from Scratch who surely were close by this stage. Despite great efforts from younger riders Sam King, Holly and visiting rider Big Red, who combined well for the whole race, it was not enough to bring the front-runners into sight. Chris Stace out-sprinted Captain Creagan for the win with Alex a few seconds behind, still 31s ahead of the chasers who just managed to grab fastest time on the day, beating Scratch on elapsed race time by 2s.
Well done to all riders and once again it is fantastic to see such a great turn out, particularly from the younger riders and the strong MTB contingent. Many thanks to Dave Jenner for doing a sterling job of sign duty and running a hard-fought and exciting contest that was more like a Scratch race than a handicap. Dave gets 4 RROTY points for his troubles but major points go to Chris Stace who is now firmly established at the top of the 2017 Road Racer of the Year leader board. Next week we’re straight into RROTY Round 2 on Boorolong followed on Sunday by the infamous Thunderbolt Roubaix (more of that on this website soon).
|HALE Rob||04||0:12:00||0:56:38||0:44:38||40.33 FT|