Albany Cycle Club hosts Syd Harper Handicap as final race in road season
The Syd Harper Handicap was the final race held in the Albany Cycle Club’s road season last month.
A relatively short distance at 35km, it attracted a solid field of riders on August 28.
As has been typical of recent club events, the weather threatened malevolence but other than the gentle headwind on the return leg, it turned out near ideal.
Unfortunately the puncture curse continued, claiming one rider in the later stages of the race.
Stephanie Bennett and Lucy Wellstead were the go group and established a solid pace on the way to the turn at Frenchman Bay.
Last race winner Shirley Thurston and Jill Bascombe were next off at 12 minutes, hurrying off to close down the front runners.
Likewise, the large 18-minute bunch of Marius Coetzer, Paul Gibson, Matt Bascombe, Ben Murphy, Brendon Mencshelyi and Jimmy Watmore.
Mike Staude and Ryan McLaren were given the green light at 20 minutes and set off with the aid of a reasonable tailwind.
The last two groups on the road featured a selection of the strongest, fastest riders over the season and at 23 and 28 minutes respectively, they had plenty of work to do to catch the front of the race.
After the fast descent into Frenchman Bay, riders then had to negotiate the long climb back out and this is where the damage was done by those with good climbing legs.
Bennett had accumulated a handy lead at this stage but that was being eaten into rapidly by Watmore, and those who were chasing him.
Ominously, chopping block, Michael Gardiner and Brent Schoof were looming, as were the three scratch riders not far back.
Off the top of the climb Staude and McLaren had collected most riders.
But what had been a faint rumble in the distance now became a full throated roar as the scratch group of Brett Dal Pozzo, Craig Wiggins and Beau LeFort came thundering through.
Riders scrambled to latch on with varying degrees of success but the big three were left to fight out the win.
Wiggins unleashed his sprint to claim a well-deserved win. LeFort was second and Dal Pozzo third.
Most of the remaining riders followed them in in very short order, a tribute to the excellent handicapping from Colin Ashton-Graham.
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