Jo Wauch showed everyone how to ride a gravel race today with an impressive victory in the Dangarsleigh Bianche Handicap. Despite some strong riding by those behind, no one could reel her in after she got the race underway in perfect dry and sunny autumn conditions and she went on to win by almost one and a half minutes.
Before the actual racing got underway the start line was a hive of activity. There weren’t a huge number of actual riders present, but there were plenty of helpers, most notably at the weigh-in which proved to be a very serious business indeed. Overseen by Mick Hoult and Phil Thomas, all bikes were weighed strictly ‘sans bidons’ and there were some impressive numbers on the scale, most notably a 1987 Jock Bullen Special that put the overhanging tree branch under some pressure at 12.7kg.
There had obviously been a bit of a communication breakdown with race officials in terms of the purpose of the weigh-in. The original intent was that this would reduce handicaps for riders of particularly heavy bikes. However, when the start times were announced it was clear that the steel frames and 6-speed cast iron clusters on some of the retro-steeds had been completely overlooked by the secret handicap algorithm.
Fortunately no one seemed too bothered about that except Kirky and the race got underway with the first half, a safe and stable 15km on sealed roads. Wilf, Dave Jenner and Andy Robb set off in pursuit of Jo and went well, actually pulling ahead of those in the group behind. Vice President Livings, Captain Creagan and Wilko really were chasing as hard as they could but with PC and Wilko on their shed bikes, and Ben still getting those margaritas out of his bloodstream, the pace was a bit down on their usual standard.
Back up the road were Col, Dr John and Bourkey who hadn’t exactly been given a dream handicap on his tip bike complete with the infamous Big-W steel radials. Kirky and Rob were supposed to be two minutes behind this group but managed to convince Swanny on the start line that they should really go after a minute and actually went after 30s due to an erm… ‘timing error’.
Even that wasn’t enough though and they really struggled wrestling their steel bikes up the early rises. Resorting to anything to try and catch the group ahead, they managed to jump on the back of a ‘team car’ for about 200m up towards Dangarsleigh Hall. Depressingly, despite the assistance, the group ahead were actually getting further away. Half-way up the hill Rob surrendered to the carbon monoxide but Kirky managed to battle on, catching Bourkey at the top who’d just about managed to maintain forward momentum on the final incline. His team mates Col and Johnny had already unceremoniously dropped him and, free of their baggage, were now really motoring.
At the turn, the pair had almost made contact with those ahead, unlike the three steel amigos behind who were now going backwards at an equally impressive rate. The only exception to this was solo Sam Jenner who, despite having flown in from Asia early that morning, had already managed to make significant inroads although he was still 9m:41s down on the leader at the turn.
As riders hit Sector 1, things really started to change. Sam immediately picked up the pace, and seemed to accelerate across the Tuscan gravel, putting his European cobblestone experiences to good effect. Andy Robb was the first to puncture on the unforgiving surface, and Johnny soon followed before the end of the same sector.
With two engines gone, the chasing packs slowed and when the Jennerator came past, they had no way of responding. He despatched Sector 2 with consumate ease and quickly caught Wilf as he rattled over the Simmons Road corrugations but ran out of road before he was able to bring Jo into his sights.
Up ahead, Jo continued to ride the perfect race, unfazed by the dirt roads she pressed on and when she finally hit terra firma, she had over 2 minutes of daylight behind her and kept the pace up all the way to the line for a worthy victory. Sam blazed home in second place and fastest time with Wilf holding off Col, the first of the real steel brigade, crossing the line in an impressive fourth place.
It took another five minutes before the last rider crossed the line under the watchful eye of Jock in the now heavily-laden broom wagon but everyone made it safely home and in time to see Jo hoist the 5kg rock trophy in the air to celebrate her maiden victory in the early season northwestern classic.
The official results below show Jo as clear winner and she also remains at the top of the ladder even after complex scientific calculations are applied to the times based on bike weights. Congratulations Jo! Many thanks to Swanny for running the race and for the army of support officials including Bob Murison, Jock Bullen, Phil Thomas, Bill Mara and Deb Jenner. Thanks also to everyone who raced with good humour and a fierce competitive spirit throughout – keeping the dream of the Dangarsleigh Bianche alive for another year!
Official Race Results
|JENNER Sam||02||0:15:00||0:09:41||1:06:58||0:51:58||37.18 FT|
The Weight Bonus below is calculated based on a ‘standard’ bike weight of 9.0kg. Adjustment is made for any bikes over this weight at the rate of 1 minute per kg. This time bonus has then been subtracted from the finish line time.
Experimental Bike Weight Adjusted Race Results
|Rider||Bike Weight||Place||Handicap||Finish||Weight Bonus||Adjusted|