The 2018 Road Racer competition got underway on Saturday with a truly challenging 40km out-and-back course on Boorolong. 32 keen competitors showed up, including reigning RROTY champion, Chris Stace. With a southeasterly, the uphill outward leg was a rapid affair and the big groups splintered quickly as stronger legs took on the climbs. There were a few mechanical casualties for Johnny (gears), Michael Wooster (puncture) and Cookie and Sam King that spoiled their day but overall it was another cracking event.
This week Dave Munday had Mick Harris back for company in Scratch, although their handicap was an eye-watering 26m:30s. Their gap on Block was a more palatable 60s though, and they reeled that in with ease on the outward leg. Jacqui King overhauled Go rider Matt Pett and was looking good at the turn, still a minute ahead of the next group on the road. Most of the earlier groups had managed to make the turn ahead of the now combined Scratch-Block trio of Dave, Mick and Pete Harris and, having safely navigated the 20km turn thanks to Col’s traffic management, it was therefore a question of whether the latter could catch them on the downhill homeward leg.
This week Col managed to give us camera splits at the 30km mark too, so the extent of the chasing was apparent. A brutal charge up from Tom’s Gully on the way home saw Dave and Mick pull away from Pete Harris and Rob Hale who couldn’t hold them over the last 50m of the climb. The Scratch pair then set about chasing down those ahead, noting that there were 21 of them at this point spread over 6 minutes.
With 10km to go, the Scratch pair had despatched seven riders but still had 2m:34s to make up on what was now a trio of Jacqui, Jo and Olive at the front of the race. Just 33s behind these front-runners was a useful looking 5-strong bunch including last weeks’ winners Tom Simmonds and Clint Bourke. Meanwhile Spartacus was chasing hard, holding a gap of 25s on Scratch.
Over the next 10km riders were shelled from the groups ahead and gradually overcome by the Scratch pair. Some held on briefly, others managed to stay, and a bunch of eight riders was gradually formed that disrupted the rhythm of the charge and gave Spartacus a glimmer of hope that a catch could perhaps be made.
It was not to be however, and ultimately the eight front riders arrived at the final kilometre ready for a sprint. Mick Harris eased away with a strong burst to win by a comfortable margin of 3s, however there was a competitive tussle for second place and the all-important RROTY points. Carl Hooton showed his excellent finishing speed once again, but it was a close affair and he only just edged out Clint for second place, with Dave Munday easing in for fourth. The last bonus point went to Olive Tutt after a stand-out ride. Fastest time on the day went to Mick Harris with an average of over 39kph, taking almost 2 minutes of Harrison Munday’s 2014 course record.
Many thanks to Wilko for putting the signs out on the lengthy course, running the race and then spending Saturday evening collecting the same signs as the sun went down. Thanks also to Houlty and Col for handicapping and especially to Col’s continued work marshaling the race once again which greatly improves rider safety and provides some fascinating insights, courtesy of mid-race time-splits.
Congratulations to all competitors for a strong and well-raced event, especially to Mick Harris for a fine win which of course sees him top of the 2018 RROTY League after the first round. This season the event is just 10 rounds long, so expect an equally competitive next 9. With the Grafton to Inverell race next weekend (Good luck Dave Munday and Pete and Ben Harris), and the Invergowrie Road Race on the 20th May, we have a break from RROTY for a couple of weeks. Next week we ring the chases slightly with a 45km Scratch race on Long Swamp which should be a great pre-Invergowrie leg loosener, see you then.
|HARRIS Mick||01||0:26:30||0:58:56||1:14:20||1:28:24||0:32:26||0:29:28||1:01:54 FT||39.06|