This year the Riverina town of Griffith was host to the Nationals and over 350 cyclists from all across Australia made the journey to Griffith. Unfortunately in the lead up to the event the area has had a lot of rain causing widespread flooding around a lot of the region. Things were looking ominous as for those of us driving from Sydney we encountered very heavy rain all the way to Griffith on Friday with water across the road in lots of places. However we all made it and went to bed Friday night praying the rain would stop for the road race the next morning. Alas the weather gods were looking after us and we awoke to a lovely, albeit fresh, morning. The wind was up a little but at least it wasn’t raining!!!
Dave Jackson was first cab off the rank at 8.00am in the MMAS6 division and all the contenders were there ready to do battle. Mark Windsor from Bathurst was in good form and constantly attacked the bunch during their four laps of the 17km course. On the second time up the hill a split had occurred and I was happy to see Dave in the lead group, however on the downhill/flat sections they didn’t work well enough together and by the next time up the hill they were all back together. It was looking like a bunch sprint when Mark Windsor again attacked and this time with the bunch all thinking they would get him back, he managed to stay away and solo up the hill for the win. This left the rest of the bunch sprinting for the remaining two medals. Dave was right in the mix but unfortunately just couldn’t quite get through for the bronze, finishing in 4th by a whisker.
Sue Henry featured in the next race being the WMAS3&4 combined. The women had to complete three laps of the course and after the first time up the hill Sue was right up with the lead group of six riders who then managed to establish a break over the rest of the field. The group worked well together, everyone doing their turns, building their lead. The Commissaire was giving them time checks and by the last lap the gap was up to over 4 minutes. There were some great riders in the group with the defending national champion, the bronze medallist from the Worlds in Perth and also the State Champion, Stacey Fish from Bathurst. Sue knew she had her work cut out for her in the uphill sprint to the finish line and unfortunately she just couldn’t quite hold on for 3rd and had to settle for 4th! It was a great women’s race though and excellent to see some strong attacking riding.
The MMAS4 were the next group to go and RBCC was represented by Daniel Hennessy. Again a break was formed consisting of about 8 riders who drove the pace and managed to stay away from the chasing group. Daniel had a great racing finishing in 21stposition 2:31 down on the winners.
Lastly it was Matt Taylor in the MMAS5 race and just to give you an idea of the calibre of this division, it was won by Liam Kelly of Eastern Suburbs CC!! It came down to a bunch sprint with 16 of the 28 finishers and Matt finished in a very credible 9th position – well done Matt!
The criterium was held on Sunday in the town centre on a 1km round street circuit. Dave Jackson was again first to race and was aggressive from early on, forming a three man break that stayed away for a few laps before being caught. They had definitely hurt the bunch making them chase so about half way through the race the same three again got away and this time stayed away for the remainder of the race. Dave was in good company with Mark Harris from Vikings CC in Canberra and Phil Kesby from Hamilton Wheelers in Qld. They worked together really well and even though the bunch tried desperately to get them back, it was not to be! Dave was just out sprinted by Mark Harris getting the silver medal in an outstanding race.
Sue Henry was next away in the women’s race and again the same girls who had been in form in the road race put the hammer down early causing some pain in the bunch! Sue rode really strongly, keeping a good position near the front of the bunch, ready to go when the attacks happened. Positioning well for the bunch sprint she took out the bronze medal in what might have been a photo finish as she had no idea how she went when she crossed the line it was that close!
Daniel Hennessy had a tough field in the MMAS4 crit and three riders got away and held a narrow 10 second lead at the finish. Daniel finished 25 seconds down in 19th place.
After more heavy rain on Sunday night, we awoke to a fine day but some howling winds! Not ideal for a time trial some may say and there was a lot of indecision around whether to ride a deep dish front wheel or not!! The course involved going down the same climb that the road race finished up and then along a flatish section before turning and coming back and finishing up the same hill! So it had a bit of everything including side winds, head winds and tail winds!!
Sue Henry was the first of the RBCC riders to depart at 9.34am and she completed the 18km course in 28:42. She commented at the end of the race that she felt quite good, but did that mean she had good legs or she didn’t go hard enough??!! After a long wait Sue was ecstatic to find out that she had won the silver medal!
The MMAS6 division had two RBCC riders in Kevin Charman and Dave Jackson. Both Kevin and Dave said after their race that they struggled to find their rhythm in the wind and in Dave’s case his legs just weren’t there after the previous two days racing. Kevin however finished a really credible 5th place in a time of 25:46 and Dave finished 8th in 26:33.
So that’s a wrap from the Nationals – it would be great to see more RBCC members take part next year, so start thinking about it and stay tuned to find out where they will be held!