The Vets headed off to Harcourt today to tackle the 36 km Queen's Arms Hotel Handicap (fantastic sponsors!) around an always-up-or-down nine kilometre kermesse course.
Throw in a stiff breeze for good measure, and it turned out to be a tough day for everyone, including the handicapper who faced technology challenges as well. The nine minute group overtook the limit markers on the third lap and were joined soon after by the sevens, but their time at the front was short-lived when third scratch joined the party with still more than a lap to go. Scratch and second scratch were suffering from a lack of numbers after each bunch lost riders early , and when they came together with more than a lap to go, the gap to the front looked insurmountable, even with Jo Stolz, Leigh Norton, Cate Frazer and David Cripps giving their all. With three kilometres still to go, a couple of brave souls from the the leading bunch tried to get away on an uphill drag but they were hauled back in to set up a bunch sprint. In his usual inimitable fashion Shane Dellavedova tried a surprise attack, launching a few hundred metres out but the bunch was wise to his signature move and collared him just before the line. Ian Stringer (4 min) capped off a strong ride and welcome return to the winner's circle, beating home Robert Gartside (7 min) and a gallant Shane Dellavedova (4 min). They'd moved clear of Neil Andrews (4 min), Pam Robertson (7 min), Steve Auld (9 min), Greg Chapman (7 min), Gino Abbisogni (4 min) and Mick Lavery (4 min). Leigh Norton led the rest home about 30 seconds later to take tenth place and record fastest time.Presentations were held in the Goldfields Track Cafe whose support is appreciated.