For the first time in 2019 the club returned to the Long Swamp course for 30km of handicap racing with two ascents of the fearsome Imbota climb in store. And in spite of the tough parcours, and a number of riders away competing in the Port to Port MTB race, we had a great turnout of 25 riders to take up the challenge.
First off the start ramp were Go riders Jacqui King & Peter Wilkinson taking new new rider Helen Kennedy under there wing – welcome Helen!
At 1.30 there was a motley trio of Nick Plummer, Chris Belson, and Haydon Freeman, who would need to stay together if they were to hold off the chasing whippets behind.
A strong 5min group of Nathan Paul, Mark Haydon, Dene Bourke, and a returning Phil Thomas were next off, closely followed a 6min trio of Andrew May, Richard Wilko, and Chris Stace. The back end of the race had a quintet of riders at 8mins, a Block trio of Kirky, Shaun Brennan & the Eagle at 10mins, with Scratch blasting away from the gun at 11:30.
The first half of the race saw the groups working well together, and at the 15km turn, Scratch had Block in their sights, who in turn were just making the catch on the 8min group while a minute up the road the 6min group had combined with remnants of the 5min group and were working well, while Keglegs, Nathan and Haydos pushed on a further minute ahead. But it was the 1.30 trio who had overhauled the GO riders and had hit the front, and with a healthy lead it was going to be a battle royale behind for the chasers to reel them in.
By the 3/4 turn the front positions were unchanged, but a 15 strong peleton of Scratch, Block and a number of riders from the groups ahead had formed. As they made the turn strong legs pushed ahead, and the race was blown wide open as they made the final ascent of Imbota. As the riders surged up Dump Hill to take the finish line, it was the 1.30 trio who emerged first, with Nick Plummer taking a deserved maiden win after working hard throughout the race…well done Nick. A sterling effort also saw Chris Belson take out 2nd place just behind Nick, while Haydos just held on for 3rd place from a fast finishing Nathan Paul who caught the handicapper’s eye and is definitely on track to regain his A grade status acquired at this years Autumn festival crit!
A barnstorming run for home saw the Scratch riders not far behind with Oliver Marshall leading them home to take out the fastest time of the day. Some terrific handicapping from Houlty saw all the riders rolling in not far behind, with ice-cold Billy Mara looking after the rear of the race before finishing with a flourish!
Thanks to Houlty for running the race, Col for manning the turn, and all riders for working well together and ensuring great days racing all round! Next week its time to dust off the aero-bars as we have our first TT of the season on Dangarsleigh!
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