On a perfect day for racing, with a big rider turnout and a great race, Inverell’s Peter Baz held onto his lead to win the Armidale-Inverell-Tamworth interclub series, Armidale took out the club prize through sheer weight of numbers, and Mitch Carrington won both the race and fastest time with a brilliantly timed attack 2.5km from the finish.
A field of thirty four riders lined up for the start of the 45km handicap featuring three laps of the tough Long Swamp course. Jo Wauch was first to start, and set off solo at an impressive pace which saw her hold on to the lead for much of the race.
Then followed Darren Taylor and Adam Jolliffe of Tamworth at 4 minutes, with the former riding strongly across to Jo in the second half of the race to take the lead himself. Off 7 minutes were the Armidale powerhouses Clint Bourke, Dave Jenner, Wilfried Keller, and Richard Wilkinson. They were followed at 10 minutes by a large group led by Bill Mara with Dene Bourke, Brendan Cole, Lachie McPhie (just off a plane from Croatia on Friday), Phil Thomas, series leader Peter Baz, Mark Wilks from Inverell, and Round 2 winner Daniel Nash from Tamworth.
An ominously fast looking bunch with Col Maciver, Holly Harris, John Scott-Hamilton, Luke Milan, Sam Munday were joined by Creighton Dolbell and Mick Jorgenson from Inverell at 12 minutes. Riding strongly they swept up most of the riders in front during the second lap to form a large super group.
Sadly their time at the front wasn’t to last, although they didn’t have much to worry about from the block group of Ben Harris, Mick Harris, Mick Hoult, Dave Munday and Andrew Swan starting at 14 minutes. Despite trying hard and slowly eating into the lead, the dominant factor in the race turned out to be the strength of scratch group starting at 16 minutes, chock full of NRS experience with Mitch Carrington, Sam Jenner, Harrison (H) Munday, and Dylan Sunderland, added to which were strong legs in Dan Wilks from Inverell and Phil Kellaher and Mick Sherwood from Tamworth.
They swept up block just after the half-way mark at the far end of the course on the second lap. From there it was a matter of teeth gritted and trying to sit in the echelon as much as possible into the cross-headwind on the trip back to town.
Just after the turn for the final lap, the catch was made, and the scratch-block group swept up the leading bunch and went straight past at speed. Mick Harris had attacked going into the turn and he was joined by Dylan Sunderland. Mick Hoult did a massive turn to close them down, which unfortunately put paid to his chances. Then going through the “cutting” Dylan attacked again which forced a crucial split. Eight or ten riders made it across including most of scratch and block, and impressively Sam Munday.
For a while it calmed down, allowing the heart rates of certain riders to settle to slightly less insane levels. Sam Munday tried his hand on the last climb of Imbota but that was marked down to youthful exuberance and he quickly decided the situation required a bit more discretion. A half attack going into the cutting, and just as everyone was recovering Mitch made his race winning move, quickly building up a big gap before anyone could react.
With H happy to see his team mate up the road and everyone else on the limit it was left to Dan Wilks and Dylan to lead the chase. Unfortunately they had ridden over from Inverell before the race and already had 190km in their legs(!), so while they gave their all and were slowly bringing Mitch back it wasn’t to be. At the foot of the final climb to the tip Sam made the first move but this only served to bring out the big guns, with H setting off with a devastating turn of speed to take second place. Ben Harris also finished impressively to take third place out of the block group, with Phil Kellaher and Dylan rounding out the minor placings.
So hats off to the winner Mitch who also recorded fastest time of 1h7m56s, at an average speed of just on 40km/h.
In the final standings, Peter Baz was the overall winner, scoring 15 points from a win in Round 1 and third in Round 2. Second place was shared by Mitch and Round 2 winner Daniel Nash of Tamworth on 9 points. Then followed three riders on 8 points including Jess Saunders of Tamworth and Ben Harris and Richard Wilkinson.
In the club competition Armidale took out the honours with 74 points, from Tamworth on 49 and Inverell on 47.
Many thanks to all riders who have competed in the series with such great spirit, and to all the helpers who made running the races possible. In Armidale, thanks go to club president Rob Tindale, Ray Phillips (commissaire), Col Maciver for such an excellent handicap, Wilfried Keller (signs), and Peter Wilkinson (finish line marshal), among others.
And thanks to Swanny for putting together this race report. Full results for both the individual and team competition are now up on the leaderboard page in glorious detail. Noting that final ranking is dependent on points, number of races, best place and average place.
See you all next year!