Michael Gardiner takes the spoils from Albany Cycle Club’s long-course championship race
The Albany Cycle Club held its annual long-course championship at the weekend, on Spencer Road in Narrikup.
It looks benign at car level, however, little of it is flat and once competitors have traversed it back and forth there is a solid accumulation of vertical metres.
This makes for a difficult bike ride and even more gruelling at race pace.
The A-grade contingent of five riders were the first to set out on the 72km course and Brent Schoof was instrumental in keeping the pace high.
As the race progressed, attrition set in with Mike Staude running short on watts after his explosive efforts in the last race.
The next to go was the early pace setter Schoof, who had the first of the two flats on the day.
The three remaining riders Beau LeFort, Ryan McLaren and Michael Gardiner were left to fight for the spoils.
The hills eventually took their toll on McLaren who was dropped in the last few kilometres leaving LeFort and Gardiner to contest the finish, where Gardiner prevailed by four seconds to claim maximum points in the tightly contested race.
The B-grade race developed into a very tactical affair between the three riders Paul Gibson, Jim Watmore and David Beckwith.
The trio started the race working effectively together on the first westward leg until gaps opened up on the climbs just before the turn.
Watmore used his superior climbing ability to accelerate away while Beckwith waited for Gibson.
Once those two were together they worked steadily to reduce Watmore’s advantage and not long after the turn on to the second lap, the group was back together again.
Beckwith stayed with Watmore’s attacks over the climbs, until losing contact at the turn.
Watmore built a gap when the road went up but Beckwith was steadily closing the gap when he punctured, allowing Watmore to win.
Gibson rolled past the roadside mechanics to finish second and Beckwith completed the course in third.
Five riders started the C-grade race and stayed together until the first crossing of the Hay River.
Lucy Wellstead lost contact on the climb.
After the turn, Paul Terry attacked, opening up a solid gap before the remaining riders, Jill Bascombe, Shirley Thurston and Liz Cooper clawed their way back on to his wheel.
Cooper rode hard on the next downhill to split the group once more.
Terry was the only rider to get back to her wheel but lost contact when the road tilted upwards but Cooper held on for a great victory.
Terry was second and Thurston completed the podium having dropped Bascombe on one of the climbs.
The next race is the Denmark Handicap on July 31 at 2pm, starting and finishing at Silverstream cellar door.
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