A large contigent of Armidale riders travelled to Inverell on Saturday 20 June for the Ashford Road Race.
Best performed on the day was Geoff Straub who was third overall, while Cody Burton had an excellent ride coming home in 6th place. Ben Castle also rode well in the 30 km race, finishing in 4th place in a very respectable time of 51:42.
This year the main race was a 70km handicap, down from the 100km distance of the 2008 edition. Despite the shorter distance it was still a hard race run over an undulating course, with no let up from a strong cross wind on both the out and back legs.
The first Armidale riders left with the 20 minute bunch, including Cody, Peter Creagan, Lachie McPhie and Phil Thomas. The 25 minute bunch featured Pat McMillan, Rob Tindale and Andrew Swan, while Dan Creagan and Andrew Kirk road off block at 31 minutes. Straub, and Mitch Bullen and Mitch Sozou were off scratch at 35 minutes.
The 20 minute bunch split up shortly after the start with Cody setting out with another rider in pursuit of the next group up the road who had started at 15 minutes. Riding very strongly, they made it across before the turn around, a move which set up a very good 6th place finish for Cody.
The 25 minute bunch was struggling to find a decent rhythm although it wasn’t for the want of trying. They were still 14 minutes behind the leaders at the turn around, having picked up very few of the riders ahead of them. (Before the race directeur sportif Bullen had arranged a set of signals to indicate whether they should maintain or lift the pace. During the race he just drove past shaking his head.)
Meanwhile, Straub working with team mate and Inverell local Brendan Jones had ridden away from the rest of the scratch group, and rapidly reeled in block and the groups in front after the turn around. By this time they had a fairly large group in tow, most of whom were struggling to hang on (the steep “9 mile” hill unhinged quite a few).
Riding with his usual style Straub set the pace with Jones for most of the race, but in the end it wasn’t enough for either to get the win. Nevertheless, Jones finished in second place and won fastest time in his home race.
Elsewhere, Rob Tindale not unexpectedly beat Andrew Kirk home although Kirkie rode very well under the circumstances (he started despite feeling well below par and would probably have failed a drug test had there been one), while Inverell won the race of the Presidents which turned out to be the sprint for 14th place.
Once again this was an excellent race, held on a challenging course against good competition. Our thanks to the Inverell club for being such good hosts.
Full race placings from the Inverell web site:[table “” not found /]