Saturday 29th July 2017.
The riders were greeted to a beautiful sunny and wind free afternoon to compete in the Macarthur leg of the interclub series. The race was conducted on a fast road circuit with some very gentle rises throughout the course.
The first grades away were C & D grade over a distance of 42 kms, 4 laps of an out and back course.
We had 2 ICC members in the C grade race, myself and David Deitz. David won fastest time at the Illawarra interclub race recently and a top 5 place, so I wanted to work for David to ensure he got the points for our club, and more importantly got the win.
The first 2 laps were very steady, with few attacks. I took a position up at the rear and watched as riders tried to get off the front only to be chased down by other clubs. Nowra had 9 riders and Goulburn and Southern highlands had over 15 riders. David and I were really isolated in the race, and had to keep tabs on other clubs trying to steal the win.
With the last lap approaching, 3 riders got away and had a good 200 metre lead on the pack. It was obvious the other clubs were not going to chase their rider down, which is to be expected in these types of races. David and I took to the front and started to push hard to reduce the gap. After about 3 kms we the race was back together.
At the final turnaround, the Nowra guys were moving to the front. I told David to follow my wheel, and took him to 5th wheel with about 500 metres to go. With riders starting their sprint on the uphill rise to the finish, I kept my position on the biggest and strongest guy in the pack. He hit the front far too early and I had the perfect sit with 200 to go. I moved across the road when David called me, and the rest is history, or more like VICTORY. David took a great win and I finished, well, somewhere down the middle of the pack.
D grade took off about a minute after C grade. We had 3 ladies competing for our club in this event, Kym Daly, Joanne Vanderstock & Jules Verheyen. All 3 ladies were in the thick of the action throughout the race. Pushing hard together and ensuring the break was kept at a reasonable distance. As the leaders got further up the road, the ladies never gave up, they were competing against men who had a wealth of road racing experience, and also a numerical disadvantage of other club members against them. Our ICC ladies did an excellent job, and worked together right to the end, gaining more points towards the best club in the interclub series.
The next grade to leave the starter were the B grade riders. In this race we had Jason Hogan, Merrick Law, Mark Morgan, Lou Palermo and Andrew Smith. B grade race was conducted over the same course as C & D but with 1 extra lap thrown in for good measure.
As the riders passed me on each lap, I could always see our riders on or near the front of the bunch doing their share of the work. When my race finished, B grade still had 1 lap to go. As the riders approached and got the bell for the final lap, Merrick was off the front of the bunch with a solid lead. It was reminiscent of the ride he had in Wagga criterium last month where he was off the front and took 2 sprints, and was only caught near the end of the race. Was Merrick was going to hold off the chasing bunch this time? As the bunch came past, all our riders were close to the front and doing nothing to hinder Merrick’s chances of winning. This is what team racing is all about, you don’t chase down your own club member in a race of this type. It would be 8 kms of racing before I would get to see the riders coming back up the rise and onto the finish. With the lead car appearing in the distance, the riders were close behind. I could see 1 rider with a 20 metre lead, could it be Merrick? As the riders spread all over the road, I could see the leader was from another club. I’m not sure of the name of the winner, but what is more important, was how our club members ended up. The pack was roaring down on the leader as he approached the finished line, with Jason next, followed by Andrew in 4th place. Merrick rolled across the line in the middle of the pack with his head on the handlebars. He wins the gutsy effort ride for the day. Mark finished beside Merrick which was a great result considering he’s sick for 3 weeks. Lou was working hard throughout the entire race, but had to ease off on the last lap due to cramping. A fantastic result for our B grade riders.
In A grade, we had Nick Burke, Rod Latham and Dave Raymond competing. This race was the same distance as B grade. Once again, I only got to see the last lap of the race. As the riders received the bell for the final lap, everyone was still together. This course was very difficult for any rider to escape from the pack, due to the high speeds and rolling hills throughout the course. With the riders heading to the final turnaround, I could see this was going to end in a bunch sprint. I knew both Nick and Rod had a great sprint and Dave is so strong, so anything could happen in this race. As the riders crested the hill with about 300 to go, 2 riders had a lead of 30 metres. One of these riders came from the NRS team of GPM and had just returned from a stint of racing overseas. Cameron Roberts of the Goulburn club powered to victory with Nick coming 5th and Rod right behind him. Dave finished well inside the top 10.
After packing up the bikes, it was time to head back to the mighty gong, but first a stop at the Picton hotel to talk about the race was in order. It’s always interesting to hear those farfetched stories of riders who had victory taken away from them in the last metre or so of the race. All in all, our ICC members did a great job in gaining more valuable points towards the best club in the interclub series.
We look forward to seeing our members competing in the Nowra leg of the interclub series next month.