Terrific finish in C-grade race steals the show at Albany Cycling Club Championship Short Course racing
Storms, fallen trees and washed-out roads earlier in the week were not enough to discourage 13 riders from turning up for the Albany Cycling Club Championship Short Course racing last Saturday.
The championship series heated up across all grades, taking on laps of the 9.2km Elleker circuit.
As it turned out, C-grade delivered the highest-quality racing.
At the start of the day, Paul Terry and Elizabeth Cooper were locked on equal championship points, meaning it was always going to be a tightly contested race.
Five riders took on three laps of the course, ramping their speed up from 31km/h on the first lap, to 32km/h on the second and a sizzling 33km/h on the decisive last lap.
The group stuck together for two laps before Terry lifted the pace while Cooper and Julie Passmore went with him.
Lucy Wellstead and Stephanie Bennett lost a few metres into the headwind on the final third of the last lap.
A tactical battle ensued between the three leaders, with Terry surging to get into the tight final bend in first wheel, from where he launched his sprint.
Cooper could not match the final effort, leaving Passmore to battle Terry in the final few metres, but the line came a fraction too soon.
Terry held on by less than a wheel length and secured a valuable 10-point lead over Cooper in the race for the C-grade championship.
The B-grade race attracted just three riders, who treated it as a slick team time trial.
Jim Watmore, Jeff Barnes and Colin Ashton-Graham all worked hard through turns for three of their four laps, averaging an impressive 35km/h in windy conditions.
The pace eased just slightly with 5km of the 37km race to go, and it looked like a tactical battle to replicate the last corner sprint in C-grade.
But everything changed when Ashton-Graham launched an attack 2km out from the finish line.
Barnes tried to respond, but the headwind left him exposed and Watmore closed the 50m gap to be on Ashton-Graham’s wheel at the final bend.
In the final kick for the line, Watmore’s efforts to close the gap took the edge off his famous sprint and Ashton-Graham prevailed to draw level on championship points with the absent David Beckwith from Denmark.
The A-grade race attracted guest rider Beau LeFort and Albany Cycling Club’s east coast-based Craig Wiggins alongside other ACC Championship contenders Brett Dal Pozzo, Michael Gardiner and Mike Staude.
All the A-grade action happened on the start line, with Staude breaking his chain in the starting surge as LeFort and Wiggins broke away from the local championship contenders.
LeFort posted the fastest time for the five laps across 46km at an impressive 41km/h, with Wiggins coming in at 40km/h to claim championship points on his visit home.
All eyes turned to the local championship battle, which saw co-operation worthy of the pro-peloton.
Gardiner walked away with the points for second on the day and Dal Pozzo accumulated enough points to draw closer to the absent Riley Heslop for the coveted A-grade championship.
ACC shifts to a social ride on the Munda Biddi trail on Sunday, returning for the championship-deciding Long Course race on the gruelling Spencer Road hills on July 17, the eve of the Tour de France finale into Paris.
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