Thirteen Armidale riders escaped the cold of the tablelands on Sunday 28 July for the inaugural Coffs 2 Coffs road race. With competitors in 5 of the 6 grades, it was a highly successful day for the club, featuring wins to Geoff Straub in A grade and Pat Ainsworth in C grade, and a third place to Angus Swan in the Under 17’s.
The race was run through scenic country between Upper Orara and Glenreagh, on a hilly but fast course. The last few kilometers featured a steep climb up Mount Browne, not quite of Alpe d’Huez proportions but enough to cause significant pain to most club level riders.
Geoff Straub and Mitch Bullen lined up in A grade with a field of 16 riders for the 108 km race. Geoff made it into a break with two other riders well before the halfway point, and even though they were led astray by their lead car and ended up riding a couple of extra kilometres, it turned out to be the winning move. One of the breakaway group dropped off before the finish, and Geoff then held off Nathan Chiswell (Coffs Harbour) to come across the line in first place almost a minute before the next riders. Mitch had a tough race but was able to hang in to finish in 12th place.
B, C, and D grades raced over a shorter 81km course. Mick Hoult, Bill Mara, Dave Munday, Nick Myhill, and Peter Wilkinson rode in the B grade field of 32, with Wilko getting closest to the money in 7th place (he then left early and missed out on collecting a prize when his number was drawn in the raffle!). Dave Munday also rode well finishing in 10th place. Mick showed surprisingly good form given that he has only ridden a couple of races all year, and although finishing towards the back end of the field was less than two minutes away from the leaders. Nick struggled up Mt Browne, having had the flu in the week leading up to the race, while Bill suffered a mechanical problem which put him out of the race just as he was about to make his move.
Pat Ainsworth, Ole Mikkelsen and Andrew Swan lined up in C grade, again in a large field of 32 riders. The latter pair showed the impetuosity of age and rode at the front end of the race for the first 70km, chasing down half hearted breaks and generally wearing themselves out before the serious part of the race on Mt Browne. Meanwhile Pat showed the patience of youth and waited down the back, saving himself for Mt Browne where he took off like Andy Schleck, quickly overhauling the field and going over the crest in the first three. From there it was a mad dash to the finish, and although the bunch came together again Pat was too strong in the sprint. It was a fantastic result for a young rider who always tries his hardest.
Bruce Buxton and Peter Creagan rode in D grade, both finishing in the top 10. This race was won by former Armidale rider Megan Williams, now riding very well for the Inverell club.
The junior race combined both Under 15 and 17 divisions, racing over 37km from Glenreagh back to Upper Orara via Mt Browne. Cody Burton and Angus Swan rode in the U17’s, and even though they are at the younger end of the age group having not yet turned 15, both were very competitive. Angus showed his best Rockvale climbing form on Mt Browne and finished in third place, while Cody wasn’t far behind in fifth place. Again, it was a very pleasing result for our younger riders.
The Coffs Harbour Club organised a great event on a very good course, which is sure to be well supported in the future. Full results can be found on the Coffs web site.
Overheard on the starting line in a group of four riders from the Northern Rivers club: “OK, today you’re Cadel Evans, I’m Yaroslav Popovich, he’s Mario Aerts, and this is Johan Van Summeren. Cadel you’re going to ride on the front while the three of us do nothing down the back”.