Sens Jewellers sponsored today's race at Harcourt and it was great to see Noel on the course to cheer on the field and make the after-race presentations.
The notoriously difficult 52 km loop was changed to an out-and back 50 km course to avoid the temporary traffic lights on North Harcourt Road. Any thoughts that it would be an easier day were shattered when the riders found out that the turnaround point was a kilometer past the three-tier hill, which meant heading back up the climb from a standing start. The handicapper opted for small bunches, good for cohesion, not so good for the amount of work each rider had to do. Lone limit rider Steven Brightput in a huge effort to reach the half-way mark well clear of the 13s and 17s who had joined up fairly quickly. All the other bunches were apart at the turn, but second scratch had third by the top of the three-tier hill and they picked up the 10s before Elphinstone. Steve held out gallantly until the 40 km mark when he was overtaken by a big bunch. Scratch made the catch on the crest of a hill with only four km to go, but their timing was out and most of the bunch were able to get on for the run in to the finish. Cheryle Barker was cruising and looked the goods until Andrew Bos nipped off the front in the last kilometer, causing a rapid acceleration which broke up the field. Peter Ladd was next away, only to be mown down by the fast-finishing Jo Stolz (scr.) who sprinted up the middle of the road to win and record fastest time, in front of Dave Hogan (4 min) and Stuart Laing (4 min) who both rode out of their skins. The rest were led in by Murray Rankin (7 min), Tony Byrne (4 min) who had done a power of work out on the course, Peter Ladd (10 min), Cheryle Barker (13 min), Andy Bos (scr.) and Steve Auld (15 min). A lot of people commented on how good the course was, so it might become a permanent fixture.