When the rules for the 30KM graded Points Race were announced it emerged as a new concept for most riders but turned out to be a great event, especially for B-Grade whose bunch hotly contested every sprint with the final placings reflecting what was a closely run race. There were 4 sprints set out along the course with points for the first 5 riders. Wilko turned up at just the right time to assist with the commissaire duties although Col seemed to somehow be able to magically transport himself around the course, constantly popping up at each of the sprints, clipboard in hand to capture the placings. Justin and Jack Pianta had made the trip up from Tamworth and it was great to have them race with us.
A-Grade set off first with the usual grumbles about the need for festive weight handicapping, but things went relatively smoothly for the first leg with the group intact at the turn. The B-Grade race was not far behind and the group of 5 that would contest every sprint had already formed, slightly ahead of the remaining riders. The first sprint was just over the top of Imbota Hill and Mick Harris made an early move at the foot of the climb. Sam Jenner and Jack Pianta decided that wouldn’t do and made the jump about half-way up and quickly created some clean air to take 1st and 2nd. They then eased off and the first four riders over the top got away and lined up for the 2nd sprint on Swamp Flat which was a fast one, contested between Jack and the Jennerator who again got away – Sam cleaning up again as he did for the remainder of the race. At the half-way point all the A-Grade riders were riding solo which didn’t help their cause in terms of chasing down the leaders.
Back in B-Grade things were proving to be quite different, Paul Williams nabbed the first sprint but was last in the bunch for the next one which Dene Bourke grabbed and Lachie, Scott Cameron and Captain Creagan shared the spoils with the group reforming for the uncontested climb up Dump Hill. At the half-way mark Lachie, PC and Bourkey were all in joint first place with 7 points, but they probably didn’t realise that at the time.
It was at this moment that the weather took a dramatic turn for the worse. As the A-Grade riders saw sense and paired up to chase down the rapid Jennerator, the heavens opened to the point where just being able to find the road and stay on it proved challenging. The downpour coincided with B-Grade slogging up the hill at the half-way mark and the smattering of DNF’s in the results indicates it was all too tempting for some to just keep going and head home.
The pelting continued for a few kilometres but cleared up in time for the next set of sprints. By this time the A-Grade procession was a done deal – the only real tussle going on between Jack Pianta and Mick Harris for 2nd and 3rd across the swamp.
The B-Grade bunch shook off the rain and continued to keenly contest the sprints. After the penultimate big-ring frenzy, Lachie was in the lead by just one point from Paul Williams and the two would have shared the spoils in the end had it not been for a last-gasp effort from Captain Creagan on the line to snatch second in the final dash and demote Lachie to second overall. Well done Paul Williams and congratulations to all riders and especially to Col for running a great race format which surely we will repeat later in the season.