Armidale Cycling Club riders came away with 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th place* in some great competitive racing at Grafton and Yamba on the weekend.
First up was the Mauri Kautto Team Time Trial on Sunday morning in Grafton. The weather conditions at the start were perfect – warm sunshine and a slight tail-wind to assist the 50K ride north to the turn. Andrew Swan, John Scott-Hamilton, Rob Tindale, Mick Hoult and of course Andrew Kirk powered home in 2h:38m:30.5s to claim a very good 3rd place (out of 11 teams) in the 100K Masters event, even with a dropped chain along the way.
Leaving 39 minutes after them, and already down one rider, the team of Phil Thomas, Ben Harris, Pete Creagan and Rob Hale did battle on the same course in the Open/Elite Category. Captain Creagan arrived looking like he should be visiting the doctor rather than competing across the undulating course. Demonstrating great commitment to his team and living every word of the club motto, he never gave up and gave everything he had so the team could get the 4th rider over the line and claim a very respectable 2h:51m:17.4s for 4th place (out of erm, 5). So technically anyway, ACC had two teams in the Top 5 in that one – sort of.
Then on the Monday, the Yamba Criterium was on, and Johnny and Ben decided to front up and race in B-Grade despite some aching limbs. They had of course gained the benefit of some first-hand expert advice about scientifically-proven complex carb loading the night before (courtesy of Kirky) and, combined with the scientifically-proven presidential advice around ice-bath benefits from Tindale (courtesy of the freezing open-air pool and heated spa), they had a cracking ride with Johnny winning and Ben taking 5th place.
That doesn’t really do Johnny’s ride justice. It’s a tough open oval at Yamba in the wind but a fantastic one for spectators who can see the whole circuit. There were several attempts by riders to break away and the Cannibal (actually he looked more like Cavendish going down the back straight) and Ben bided their time while these breaks came to nothing and the large bunch soon reeled them in. Then with around 6 laps to go, the Cannibal made a move with two supporting riders – Paul O’Connor (Grafton) and Adam Taylor (Byron Bay). They quickly gained around 100M on the chasers who bunched up in disarray, no one wishing to give chase. That was the moment and with the three front riders willing to work together, their lead was never really threatened. They smartly rolled through the final prime uncontested to conserve energy as they time-trialed around the circuit like 3 seasoned pros. By the last couple of laps they’d dropped O’Connor and it was down to Johnny and Taylor. Johnny exited the final turn in the lead, and picking the perfect line tight into the kerb he hit the gas hard. Taylor had no option but to take the windward side if he wanted to pass but quickly realised he would settle for second as a very determined Cannibal punched over the line for victory. Ben showed his form winning the bunch sprint a few seconds later to claim 5th having clearly enjoyed himself and having demonstrated a new cornering technique that only a mountain biker could – using the ramped kerbing as a berm to gain extra velocity onto the straight.
Thanks to our friends in Grafton and Yamba for a great weekend of really well-organised racing which was thoroughly enjoyed by the 9 Armidale riders (well done boys) who are sure to be back for more next year. There are a few photos online on our gallery pages, including a wonderful one showing a colour-co-ordinated Kirky, fully immersed in deep thought just before the start of the 100K event.
*Technically-speaking anyway – across 3 different events, on separate days, in separate locations