Armidale is clearly in the grip of Giro Fever at the moment, reflected in the numbers turning out for racing this weekend. Despite it being just 12 degrees with a brisk SE wind, no less than 27 riders decided to venture out for the 30K handicap across the bumps of Boorolong on Saturday afternoon.
The course had been shortened from the planned 40K due to roadworks and a temporary bridge and with the regular handicapper at the state masters in Griffith, Swanny bravely took up the pen to make the necessary adjustments. When he finally climbed out the back of Wilko’s van he did so with all the ceremony of Brailsford emerging from the Death Star but there were no real surprises as the start times were read out and Ray got matters underway with a comfortable 7-minute margin over Haydo and Chris Stace.
The Stace brace was followed three minutes later by a big group of eight riders that looked dangerous and at the other end of the field, the four man scratch group left at 18 minutes with a 1-minute chase to the five block riders.
The pace was relatively high on the wind-assisted outward and predominantly uphill leg which kept the bunches together in the main. With a welcome return to Houlty, block were not hanging around and their minute group were quickly snaffled up at the bottom of the long climb to Dumaresq Road. Up ahead the 11-minute bunch was working well and was growing in size and momentum. Wilf launched a few solo moves off the front but under the watchful eye of Captain Creagan the group let him have his moment in the sun and pulled him back each time. At the well-marshaled turn they picked up Chris and Haydo and had a comfortable lead on the chasers who in turn were maintaining their gap on the smaller scratch group. At this point it looked like like the winner could come from this group if they kept their heads and worked together. The block and scratch riders continued to press on hard into the wind and steadily collected remnants from the groups in front but the leaders weren’t in sight.
Up ahead the 11-minute group was working well. Now with a strong-riding Haydo in their midst, Alex, Bourkey,Wilf and PC were keeping a good pace up knowing that victory and those RROTY points should be in the bag. Rounding the final corner and under the flamme rouge, Wilf made a very early move followed by Alex with PC on his wheel. With Wilf fading in the final hundred metres Haydo and Bourkey charged through hard. PC wound it up in the last 50 and was closing in on the pair but Haydo stayed strong, winning comfortably by several bike lengths from Bourkey who just held off an accelerating PC by half a wheel with Wilf and Alex rounding off the RROTY bonus places.
The block bunch came through over a minute down on the winners (Houlty grabbing fastest time) with scratch another minute and a half later which demonstrates how hard the front-runners had worked for their victory. For Haydo this was two RROTY wins in a row which launches him up to third place in the league on 23 points behind Wilf (26 points) but still behind Kirky (27 points).
Congratulations to Haydo and many thanks to Peter Wilko for running the race and putting the signs out, ably assisted by Kenny. Next week we’re back on Long Swamp with San Remo on duty and at this stage we’ve been advised the TEC will be out of action due to a NSW Fire and Rescue Open Day – so junior racing won’t be on.
|HOULT Mick||07||0:17:00||1:04:26||0:47:26||38.45 FT|