Despite numbers being a little down on normal, there was plenty of action on Long Swamp this afternoon. In fact, the 20 riders participating in Round 7 of the 2018 Road Racer of the Year contest probably won’t be involved in a more enthralling, or closer contest for a long time to come. Such was the quality of the handicapping from Houlty, that despite riders being spread over 20 minutes at the start, 80% of riders finished within a minute of winner – Nathan Paull, who overcame Pat Ferris by a couple of bike lengths at the finish, closely followed by Keglegs and Swanny.
While the action on the road was enthralling, it wasn’t quite as riveting for the marshal at the turn. Cookie, suffering the after-effects of illness, kindly volunteered to do the work which was greatly appreciated by all. Fortunately, thanks to our turn camera, we can also appreciate the emerging cone flipping talents on display. Surely when this becomes an Olympic sport, Armidale will have a serious contender.
Back to the racing, and such a close finish seemed unlikely when James Harris, still nursing wrist, elbow, hand and mental injuries from his MTB exploits earlier in the year, gamely rolled off the start line with Andrew May for company and a healthy-looking gap of over ten minutes on the next rider, Greg Flynn. By the end of the first of 3 laps, James was forced to retire and left Andrew plugging away, still with a buffer of over 8 minutes on a large group of 9 riders. In turn, this group was 2m:41s to the good of Block (4 riders) who were 2m:06s ahead of Scratch (5 riders). So it was Andrew May against 3 groups with all to play for and 30km to go.
By the end of Lap 2, the gaps had continued to come down with Andrew looking likely to surrender the lead now his advantage had slipped under two minutes. Block were just 1m:25s in arrears of the monster group ahead with Andy “I can’t climb” Robb seemingly enjoying the hills. Phil Thomas similarly appeared to be conquering the vertical inclines better than ever, turning with a small gap on his own bunch, just for fun. Scratch were now 1m:02s behind Block with Houlty doing most of the damage and, as with last week on Boorolong, most of the work for his grateful companions. It was a very different looking Scratch group this week with Tom Simmonds making his deserved debut which he handled well, especially on the climbs which posed no challenge, in fact the hellium-filled pair of Tom and Hammy fairly danced up them.
By the last turn at Cone Flip Corner, May had been caught by his chasers and tagged onto the back of this lead group. They still had an advantage of 36s from bunch two who in turn also had 36s on bunch three. Everyone was giving it their all and it was still impossible to tell whether either of the chased groups could be caught.
Finally, by the bottom of the long climb up to Dump Hill, group two caught the leaders and the mob wound its way up, over the first rise and onto the final climb. Meanwhile, still 24s (thanks Strava) behind the eventual winner, Houlty dragged his group up the long climb and onto the final ramp, setting free two lightweight missiles in Hammy and Tom. They launched a powerful attack and Hammy got into the back of the bunch but couldn’t make contact with the leaders, finishing 15s down, nabbing Fastest Time for his trouble.
Congratulations Nathan Paull on the victory and well done to all riders for an excellent, hard fought race. Special mention to Houlty for a great demonstration of the black art of handicapping. Well done Hammy on grabbing Fastest Time and for putting the signs out. Thanks Col for running the race and Cookie for marshaling the turn and providing the entertainment.
At the top of the Road Racer League, two 2nd place results in two weeks has seen Pat Ferris jumped from obscurity to 2nd place overall, now just 3 point behind leader Rob Hale. Johnny and Swanny are still also well placed, just 3 points further back. Such is the dynamic nature of the Road Racer League that, with just three round remaining, potentially any of 31 riders could still walk away with the trophy. We take a break from RROTY for a couple of weeks and we’re back on Boorolong next weekend for a 30km Scratch race.
|Rider||Place||Handicap||Lap 1||Lap 2||Lap 3||Finish||Gap||Adjusted||Avg|
|WILLIAMS Paul||08||0:20:00||0:23:38||0:23:49||0:23:55||1:31:22||0:00:15||1:11:22 FT||38.66|