For the first time in MWCC history, the sold out sign went up for one of their races, with riders still queueing to try and get a start in the popular road race of Akuna West Head.
When the course moved down to the start line at Akuna Bay Marina, there were some concerns that the course had been made too hard – the usual moaning from riders as they read from their book of excuses. The numbers dropped off for a little bit and then they stabilized at a fairly steady number for the last couple of months and then boom! Riders from all over Sydney descended on Akuna Bay with this fantastic seasonal weather to challenge themselves on a course that has been compared to the Amstel Gold Course.
The A grade numbers were more than 3-4 times their normal size and it seemed if you weren’t in Perth at the Tour De Perth you were signing your name on at the start line. SUVelo and the Albion Cycles NRS development team, made the trip over for the first time and it resulted in a huge field which as a result set an absolute blistering speed across the course, leaving the field already exploding before the turn off to West Head.
The large turn out was assisted by this being Round 3 of the Sydney Women’s Race Series and the success of this series was reflected in a total of 34 riders taking the start line across women’s a & b grade. The riders enjoyed the benefit of female only grades and for many it was their first road race. It was also the first round that didn’t require an ambulance and that is also one of the benefits of this course, with no crashes recorded in any grades and our perfect safety record remaining in tact.
When riders arrived and saw the queues at sign in, some may have thought they we were also selling tickets to a One Direction concert, such was the pandemonium. By the time we had to put the ‘House Full’ sign up, we still had a queue extending out the car park, we had reached our National Parks approval limit for the first time ever, we had run out of numbers and not surprisingly we had once again run out of pins.People starting auctioning off their race entry to the highest bidder.
Only a few years back we would have been happy to have a turn out of 40 riders across all of the grades, so it was great to have a number of those past Presidents and Secretaries at the race, so that they could see the fruits of their labour and enjoy the spoils with the boom in cycling.
A grade rolled out and it was clear that this was going to be sizzling race with a number of riders and teams using this as their final preparation for Blayney to Bathurst next weekend. Riders were already being put under pressure on the opening climb with the bunch splitting before the turn into West Head. This was not going to be a race for the faint hearted or those who were going to be caught out on positioning.
With so many teams and clubs represented, we had riders from the Central Coast Flying Carrots, Penrith CC, Lidcombe, SUVelo, East Sydney, Randwick, Northern Suburbs, Manly and plenty of others there were plenty of riders willing to sit on the front and set a torrid pace and also to bring back any escapees.
In the end it came down to a bunch sprint and Alex Gardner of MWCC used his local knowledge to take out the sprint ahead of Simon Coughlan and Adam Socha of NSCC.
The B Grade Prestige was another star studded field of Masters racing legends and once again it was MWCC Michael Bolt taking out the sprint in front of Masters Legend Rolang Lang in a close sprint. Roland had rolled Bolt in the second last week of the Eastern Suburbs Summer Series, so Lightning was happy to get one back on his adversary. It was also great to have Roland mixing it up on course. Third place was Tim Frankcombe representing the Defence Forces. Bolt and Lang will be checking their gardens for land mines before next months race.
B Hubbard was not setting such a blistering speed because they ended up getting caught by C Prestige. the usual etiquette is that the grade that is caught, sits up and lets the other grade pass. Riders have to put their ego in check and realise that they are being passed by a faster group – if you had been going faster you wouldn’t have been caught – so accept the harsh reality that a group starting a few minutes behind you has caught you – neutralise and let them get a gap before proceeding with your race. However due to the boom in cycling, a lot of riders are still learning the etiquette of racing and riding – just look at some of the riders around you if you commute to work.
In the end Gary Wilson of NSCC took the win ahead of Peter Robertson and a happy vegan Robbie Scheiner of MWCC.
C Prestige rode strongly and i think a number of riders had a strong work out when the groups got mixed up and a few legs got ripped off as a result. Chris Taylor of MWCC got the win, Ben Craig got second and Steven Mushlin rounded out the podium. With these riders showing they had B Grade form.
C Hubbard is still a strong field of riders and it reflects the standard of all the grades when riders who would race in higher grades across Sydney, struggle in the rolling parcours of the West Head course. In the end it was Ed Shilland of MWCC who took the win against Paul Evangilides of the Waratahs and third place went to Darren Moore, who really wanted first place and so didn’t hang around for the podium.
The D Grade field wasn’t a super large field due to the race selling out prior to a number of these riders getting a chance to sign on. However Kenn Hedges took advantage of this and took the win ahead of Roy Ditsmarch both from MWCC. Laura Jones, probably should have started in the Womens B grade, but chose the D Grade start with her minder. Due to her tenacity on the course, she was awarded third place in the race.
A separate race report will go up for the womens races.
1. Alex Gardner MWCC
2. Simon Coughlan
3. Adam Socha
A Grade Womens
1. Cat Haines MWCC
2. Amber Jenkins SUVelo
3. Lynne Clarke MWCC
1. Michael Bolt
2. Roland Lang
3. Tim Frankcombe
B Grade Womens
1. Martinette Van Vuuren
2. Monique Steger
3. Veronica Fardell
1. Gary Wilson
3. Robbie Scheiner
1. Chris Taylor
2. Ben Craig
3. Steven Mushlin
1. Ed Shilland
2. Paul Evangilides
3. Darren Moore
1. Kenn Hedges
2. Roy Ditsmarch
3. Laura Jones
We hope that not too many riders didn’t miss out on their race, we will see what we can do about our approval numbers and we will also have more numbers, a bigger sign in desk and more pins next month. Might also make race entry $50, just so a can feel like James Packer when I open my wallet after I count the cash at the race…
Finally thanks to Brad Ward, Antoni Mikac, Evan Snow and Trevor Smith – these guys gave up their morning to get their early, set up, then stand around at turn arounds while you raced, before packing up after everyone had left. Hope to see as big a turn out next month May – put in your diary, it is going to be BIG!