Katherine Hosking won on the day as Dene Bourke pulled out all the stops yesterday to grab the last bonus points in a tough race and in doing so seal a fine victory in the highly prestigious 2015 Road Racer of the Year League. Conditions were good on the Boorolong course and numbers were up with 23 riders competing in the 30K handicap race which was the 15th and final Road Racer round of the season. Going into the final round, Bourkey was 1 point behind Rob Hale and in order to win needed to finish at least 5th and keep Rob out of the bonus points.
Ray Phillips got things underway in the company of Isabella Hosking and Emily Wooster. Behind that at four minutes was what looked like a potentially dangerous bunch under the stewardship of Captain Creagan containing Wildcard Wilf along with Katherine Hosking and Richard Wilkinson who were both showing good form of late. Bourkey was in the six-minute group with his main rival for the league a further three minutes behind in Block and the Scratch trio of Dave Munday, Mick Hoult and Ben Harris rounding things off at 11 minutes.
Out on the road the pace was high for the outward leg and the bunches started shedding riders as Bourkey’s group showed their intentions from the start. Block was reduced to just two riders by the first climb and with Scratch nowhere in sight, there was no choice but to dig in and try to close down the gap on the bunch ahead. Fortunately Rob had Kirky and his excellent humour for company and in next to no time they were at the turn and had made great time with eight riders now in sight, perhaps only 40s ahead. In front of them, the Keglegs Powerhouse was quickly latched onto and used to good effect on the downhill sections.
At the top of the race, the four-minute group had now picked up the Go riders and Katherine and Co were charging along looking good for victory. Things were looking decidedly tough for Bourkey though, unless he could catch the four riders ahead of him on the road he would have to win the bunch sprint to get the last bonus point for 5th place. In that bunch with him now was none other than The Cannibal, marking a steady return to form and fitness and with a reputation for explosive sprinting. Behind him, with no sign of Scratch and having farewelled Phil at Dumaresq Dam Rd, Kirky and Rob were belting themselves to get across to Bourkey’s group of 8 riders, now tantalisingly just a few hundred metres ahead with 5k to go.
Twice they tried to jump across and twice they got within 100m only to fade away again on the flatter sections. Kirky gave it one final massive effort, going a strange shade of purple as he drove into the headwind. He released Rob at the 1k marker with some useful recommendations for catching the riders ahead, but it was by now a lost cause as the bunch started to wind up for the sprint. The question was, could Bourkey still get a bonus point? Potentially he needed to outsprint his group who were showing no signs of chivalry.
Ahead of that group, now just by 20 seconds, was the battle for first place between Katherine Hosking and Richard Wilkinson. The young 2WheelAcademy rider showed gritty determination and a great sprint and lunge to win by a wheel with Emily Wooster coming home strongly for 3rd place and Lone Wolf Wilf 4th in an exciting finish.
So now the crowds waited anxiously for the main field. With the last of the bonus points places in the offing, Dene Bourke would have to be next over the line to win the RROTY championship. Would The Cannibal power home demonstrating his native sprint prowess, or could Captain Creagan use his shrewd racing pedigree to outfox the lot of them? As they loomed into sight Bourkey was on the front, out of the saddle going head to head with Dave Harris whose baggy shorts were costing him at least 30 watts to the sleeker Bourke profile. It was neck and neck as they drove for the line, the crowds going wild, baying for Bourkey who had jettisoned his last water bottle in a final desperate effort for victory. With no time for a victory salute or even a smile, Bourkey crossed the line to win by just under a bike length and in doing so seal a famous RROTY 2015 championship victory. Check out the winning moment online.
Well done to Katherine Hosking for a hard-earned victory on the day and congratulations to all riders of very competitive race thanks to some good handicapping. Thanks also to Chris Stace for doing a top job running the race and somehow managing to put the signs out and negotiate the course despite towing an enormous trailer on the back of his ute.
The party at the Bourke residence went on into the small hours and he was a no-show for the 7am club ride the next morning, demonstrating the reputation and prestige of the Armidale Cycling Club Road Racer of the Year contest. Warm congratulations to you Dene Bourke – a worthy winner!