Local cycling this week was the Ganter Constructions Handicap on Middle Arm Road. A big field of 26 rides signed on for the challenging course made more difficult with a strong cross wind.
Starting at the cemetery on the outskirts of town riders headed out on the 20km out and back course which took riders up the steady climb to the turnaround just passed Denneys Lane.
New riders Alison Stewart and Martin Stewart along with veteran Chris Bushell set off on limit with Fiona Berry, Ted Goad and Ton Wade next to leave on 2 minutes 30 seconds with Bluey Emmerton and Peter Jackson off 3 minutes.
Needing to make up 6 minutes and 30 seconds on the limit riders was the big C Grade group of Wayne Bensley, Nadine Moroney, Michael Hall, Alex Parlett, Chris Berry and David Carmichael. In pre-race discussions the group opted for their Windellama plan again with each rider pulling long turns into the cross wind at the front to allow maximum recovery time for those following. If a catch was made then most of the bunch with the fresher legs could jump on the faster group and hopefully be there at the finish.
Two minutes further back were the B Grade riders of Gavin Moroney, Josh Daniel, Angus Taylor and Mark Stutchbury. They would need to work hard to hold off the form riders of Glen Apps, Michael Beard and Andrew Stewart only a minute further back.
On 10 minutes 30 seconds Andy Cartwright made a welcome return to racing with Callum and Jacob Emmerton and visiting Englishman, George Smith while out on scratch was Riley Fleming with the almost impossible task of needing to make up a massive 11 minutes on his own.
The early groups made good progress to the turnaround but it was new rider, Alison Stewart who broke away to open up a handy lead.
Michael Beard, Glen Apps and Andrew Stewart had combined with Gavin Moroney and Josh Daniel to haul in the C Grade riders shortly after they had passed through the turn. Nadine Moroney, Michael Hall, Wayne Bensley and Chris Berry managed to hold on with the faster riders but as the pace increased on the run back to Norwood Road the peloton became stretched out in single file and the weaker riders progressively dropped off.
Andy Cartwight, George Smith and the Emmerton brothers were making excellent progress in catching the front runners and by Campbells Lane, with only the final two rolling hills to go, had the leaders in sight.
Michael Beard and Andrew Stewart had made the catch of all the front runners and opened up a small break on the chasers. They both attacked the final two climbs to maintain their advantage over the fast finishing George Smith, Andy Cartwright and Glen Apps. The downhill run to the finish line at the cemetery became a drag race between the two leaders with Andrew Stewart taking line honours by the narrowest of margins over Michael Beard. In a tight race of the final podium spot international visitor, George Smith finished third with Andy Cartwright fourth.
Handicapper Glen Apps did an outstanding job with half the field finishing within one minute of each other and all riders completing the course within 3 minutes of the winner.
Big thank you to the volunteers from the ever reliable timekeeper Mrs Bush, Chief Commissaire Phil Bush, traffic controllers Steve Sly and Steve Watts, Andrew Oberg and Jeremy Gilchrist in the lead/follow cars.
Next Wednesday racing is on Windellama Road for the TTH Industries Individual Time Trial. Sign on by 6pm in Brisbane Grove Road and racing starts at 6.30pm. New riders welcome.
Ganter Constructions Handicap, Middle Arm Road 20kms
- 1st Andrew Stewart (off 9:30) 39:05 40.5km/hr
- 2nd Michael Beard (off 9:30) 39:06 40.5km/hr
- 3rd George Smith (off 10:30) 39:11 41.8km/hr
- Fastest Time: George Smith 28:41 41.8km/hr