The penultimate round of the 2017 Road Racer of the Year Competition took place with a gusting northwesterly and temperatures hovering around 10 degrees. There was no sign of the balmy spring weather of the previous week or Chris Stace’s recent strong form and by the end of the race, his plan to walk away with the championship had been dealt a blow by young Mick Harris who now sits in 3rd place, level on points with Dave Munday, the Scratch pair just 4 points behind leader Chris, himself one point ahead of Alex Thomas who didn’t race.
With the newly re-elected handicapper absent, it was left to race coordinator Clint Bourke to organise the starting times and, clearly a natural numbers man, he did a great job. At first glance things looked like they might be a bit tight with one minute gaps between the groups (except for Mick Harris) but the conditions made for tough riding and despite groups being clearly visible ahead, it took a long time for gaps to be closed.
Mick had a 90s disadvantage on the start line over solo Block rider Rob who quickly bridged and combined with Phil Hess and Col Maciver to chase down the 6-minute group. Up front, Go riders San Remo and Jo Wauch were being reeled in but by mid-race they still had 1 minute on Chris Belson and Haydo who were joined by an in-form Jason Simmonds when he jumped across from the group behind. In turn this trio still had a healthy minute on the chasers who were now forming a larger mob, chased by Johnny and Lachie (at 29s), then Block (at 72s), and Scratch (at 47s).
Keglegs gave one for the team when he hit the front of the Block trio, blazing up to the final turn before exploding impressively. The turn showed that lone Mick Harris still had 20s of work to do, however he made short work of it, charging up Imbota and latching onto the chasers. Combining with Phil Hess, Col and Rob, he picked off riders ahead with relative ease before pulling the lead bunch into sight at the foot of Dump Hill. The pace was steady but still too high for most and just 4 riders remained in contention with 500m to go.
Mick dropped a couple of gears and unleashed a Froomesque cadence that no one could hold before backing off to cruise over the line for another well-deserved victory and fastest time. He clearly likes Long Swamp – in his last five outings on the course, his worst finishing place has been third. Col still had enough left in the tank to jump away for second place with Rob, Phil (course PB) and Lachie grabbing the last of the bonus points. Chris Belson impressed with a course PB and 6th overall, the highest-placed rider out of the mid-race groups.
Many thanks to Clint for great signage, handicapping and for running a safe and competitive race. Things really are delicately poised at the top of the RROTY League. The final round is some way off on the 11th November with club road and ITT championships inbetween.
Next week we have a Scratch race on Boorolong – the first for a very long time and racing shifts to 4pm now we’re firmly into daylight savings.
|Rider||Place||Handicap||Lap 1||Lap 2||Adjusted||Gap||Avg|
|HARRIS Mick||01||0:10:00||0:23:29||0:22:57||0:46:26||0:00:00||39.02 FT|