A glorious New England afternoon saw a fantastic turnout for the annual Dangarsleigh Bianche Gravel Race, with 34 riders and a motley assortment of bikes eager to take on the challenge. And what a challenge it was as a variety of punctures, mechanicals, and the punishing parcours saw the race blown apart…but more on that later!
It was great to welcome back the NEMTB crew to the road, and also a very welcome contingent from Inverell Cycling Club. With such a mixed group of riders and equipment, handicapping proved challenging, but eventually riders were corralled into their respective groups, and the race was on!
The Go riders were an all MTB affair, with the new rider Emma Meehan joined by Bella Hosking, Olive Tutt, Emily Wooster & Ziggy. Next off the line was a large group of grizzled Armidale roadies at 3mins who would have a solid chance if they could stick together and avoid any mechanicals (and stop doing wheelies Carl!). The back end of the race saw 3 strong groups one min apart at 5, 6, and 7 mins, with the Harris clan wisely kept apart as Mick brought up the rear in Scratch with Inverell’s Peter Horwood, Dave driving along Block with the G2I trio of Hammy, Houlty, and Jason Simmonds + Dan Wilks & Pat Ferris, and Holly keeping a group of boys in check just ahead.
The opening tarmac sector was largely uneventful, as the groups worked well and rolled turns, and those on big rubber had to fight hard to keep up with those on skinny tires. The GO group were setting a solid pace at the front, and as they turned at the monument and hit the first gravel sector the race was truly on. The brutal Foret D’Angersleigh sector was in particularly poor condition this year, and the brutal corrugations turned the advantage back towards the riders on knobbly tires. As riders sucked in the dust and battled up the first climb, the race was blown apart. David Cook from the 5min group was blazing a trail across the gravel and through the groups ahead, with Andy Robb and Holly desperately chasing, and the remnants of block and a scratch hot on his heels. But just as it was starting to look like a race winning move, the gravel claimed its first victim as the Cookie-monster punctured and was out of the race. This gravel sector in particular showed no mercy, with Houlty and Kirky also puncturing, and Mitchell Jones had only just tasted the gravel before a strategic roadside vomit was required.
First to emerge from the dust of Blacks Lane was Andy Robb, with Holly and Inverell’s Al Miller hot on his heels, and the lead riders from Block and Scratch closing in fast. The drag race continued through the 18km turn and the Blacks Lane/Elliots Road sector, leaving the decisive battle to take place on Knobs Hill as the front runners came together at the foot of the climb. First to launch up the fearsome gravel ascent was Missile Mick Harris, with Holly and Jason in hot pursuit, and Inverell’s Dustin Wilks chasing hard to close up the gap. As the riders emerged from Simmonds Rd back onto the tarmac for the final run home the lead trio had come together, with Dustin & Andy 30 seconds back, but without enough road to mount a serious chase to get back on it was down to the front 3 to contest the sprint. And in an epic effort, legs spinning like an whirling-dervish on his MTB gearing, it was Missile Mick who JUST edged out Jason for a well deserved win. Kudos also to 3rd placed Holly who showcased the latest MTB AXS tech to great effect to take out her best ever result in an ACC race…well done Holly!
Congratulations to all riders for a fantastic effort in one of our most challenging races; thanks to Mick Harris for the putting out the sign, and to Col for doing a great job running the race and the timings.
* Apologies to riders who don’t have times listed below – a GoPro malfunction meant we didn’t get everyones final time.
Next Sunday we have our premier road race of the season – the Invergowrie Road Race. If you haven’t already make sure you sign up ASAP on for what promises to be a great race!
|Rider||Place||Equipment||Handicap||18km Turn||17km 2nd leg||Finish Time||Adjusted||KM||Avg|
|Michael Harris||1||MTB||0:07:00||0:36:34||0:28:44||1:05:18||0:58:18 FT||35||36.02058319|