November 19, 2017 – Championships Day, scratch racing – Weatherboard

EUREKA CYCLING
ROAD RACE

Championships

Ken Heres Bobcat & Backhoe Hire

19 November 2017

EVCC 2017 road race Championships - poster

Weatherboard circuit

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Race morning presented and riders travelled from near and far to contest the Eureka Cycling ROAD RACE Championships.
Glorious sunshine bathed Learmonth, yet a fierce north east breeze was present and the racers knew they were in for a hard day at the office, especially as the temperature was predicted to rise into the 20’s.

Much conjecture over who would race each division was had during the week…rumours had spread that certain riders would not be present…others issued challenges to their nemesis….alliances were formed…social media fuelled speculation and various scenarios were discussed.

At the sign in desk the numbers grew for the Championship race and the Division 2 race, yet entries were light for the Division 3 race.
The officials planned the day, the marshals collected their gear, the kitchen prepared the food, the riders warmed up…the stage was set…three championship races run concurrently…three stories to be told…

Division 3

Consisting of just three riders – John Faulkner, Graeme Parker and Rob Young – the Division 3 championship race was over 50 kilometres and the wind would have much to say about who would survive.

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A silent gentleman’s agreement was had and the trio set off to engage the circuit.  Work together, defeat the circuit, sprint for the prize, may the best man win.

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Faulkner lasted for 35 kilometres before the elastic broke, leaving just Parker and Young out on the road.  Swapping turns, yet being wary not to over exert, the cat and mouse began.
Whilst Faulkner pulled up at 40 km and put the cue in the rack – so to speak – Parker and Young started the mind games.  Parker surged down Weatherboard road towards the chicane and attempted to unsettle Young, yet the challenge was matched.

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A sprint would decide the medals and each was wary not to give anything away.

Through the final turn and just 1500 metres to decide the champion.  Onto the hill and they raced side by side, over the crest and Parker edged just a little ahead then unleashed his sprint.  A blink of an eye and the contest is over, Parker raced away to the win and Young crossed a few seconds later, gallant as ever.

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Result Division 3 Championship, 50 km:
1st – Graeme Parker
2nd – Robert Young

Division 2

The 60 kilometres race saw one of the larger fields ever assembled to contest for the Division 2 Championship medals.  A few riders were backing up after competing in the Misery 100 race staged by Ballarat Sebastopol CC on the previous day.  Others had set their sights on the event weeks before and planned meticulously for the event and yet others had emerged from the veritable cycling wilderness to compete or literally through their hand up to race in a higher grade…
At the start line thirteen amassed – Jim Burzacott, Terry Collie, James Gretton, Jason Hendry, Jeremy Humber, Jude Jonasson, James Knipe, Kevin Lee, Phil McLennan, Roger McMillan, Bob Morley, Brian Ure and Dan Whelan – then set off in search of victory.

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The wind decided much of the day’s play as riders jockeyed for wheels and hiding in the pack was a much desired tactic.  Early in the race the likes of Whelan, Humber, Knipe and Burzacott made much of the running.
Not many attacks would ensue, for the plan was to reduce the numbers by attrition.  Stay in the gutter and keep the pace strong…  McLennan was an early casualty and others were seen to yoyo off the back as the halfway mark approached.

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Rarely on the front at this early stage, yet always within striking distance were the experienced Collie, Morley and Gretton.  Others remained hidden, yet ready to chase as required.
The race wore on, yet the dozen remained intact and bar for sporadic quickenings through the chicane the race was nullified to the point that a sprint finish seemed inevitable.  McMillan had placed himself comfortably in the rear half of the field and noted how easy Ure was coping with the race.  This was a man to follow!

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The bell lap and by now the stronger riders were worried that to attack would leave them exposed to those whom had stayed relatively hidden throughout proceedings.

Ure casually rode off the front over Weatherboard and opened a small gap down towards the chicane.  Gretton (who is at one with gravity) followed and crossed the space to Ure who was now in full fledged attack mode.  They quickly opened the lead to over 200 metres.  Ure powered through the final turn with Gretton tucked in behind.  A quick glimpse over his shoulder gave him the confidence to launch early on the climb.  Be damned if there s a hill in the way!
The pack rounded the turn and riders jumped from wheel to wheel as they watched Ure and Gretton commence the climb – then in a moment Gretton has lost contact and Ure races away.  Could they close to Gretton?

Ure crested the Hendersons Road hill and has a clear margin.  The pack charge past Gretton on the climb and crest the hill.  Lungs and legs are bursting yet medals can be won and Ure is just ahead and racing to the line to claim victory.
McMillan has exploded out of the pack and races to second a few lengths ahead of Humber.  Morley appears to have fourth place sewn up until Collie ducks around and grabs it on the line.

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Result Division 2 Championship, 60 km:
1st – Brian Ure
2nd – Roger McMillan
3rd – Jeremy Humber
4th – Terry Collie
5th – Bob Morley

Championship Race

The feature event of the day was the Championship Race to decide whom would be crowned 2017 Club Champion and earn the right to wear the blue dossard emblazoned with the white phoenix during season 2018.
Sixteen of Eureka’s fastest riders signed on to ride in one of the largest fields yet assembled for the Championship race, almost half of them had ridden the Misery 100 the day before…would that be a factor?

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A veritable who’s who of Eureka riders mounted for the fray – defending champion Greg Ley, Matt Ayres, Jason Birch, Matt Bowman, Bob Braszell, Stuart Brien, Rick Calvert, Peter Canny, Tim Canny, Peter Gunston, Craig Lee, Paul Pickersgill, Tony MIrabella, Rob Phillips, Brendan Schiemer and Richard Taylor – listened to the race referee’s instructions then set out in pursuit of glory…

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The early laps were fast and Braszell and Phillips soon found themselves a tad off the pace.  Pickersgill, Calvert, Peter Canny and Gunston were also stretched and soon enough the field had been reduced to ten.  The dropped riders fought on in their ones and twos…sometimes closing the gap to the riders ahead, then watching the gap drift further apart and never rejoining.

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The race for the ten remaining riders wore on.  No major attacks, yet plenty of pace and stretching of the elastic bands.  Seemingly from nowhere Tim Canny made an attack heading up Avenue Road with just under 30 kilometres remaining.  Timed to perfection – at the top of a rise and just as the road turns due north – Canny’s effort utilised the marginal cross headwind to maximise his effort and open a space.
The others looked left and right with no-one willing to commit to lead the chase.

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Out of the Avenue and Canny had not increased his margin, yet the bunch were not working to chase him down.  No one wanted to over exert with so far left to race.  Canny meanwhile was watching his watts as he crested Weatherboard.  He needed to conserve his effort with the tail wind without conceding too much ground.  Through the chicane and his lead is around 400 metres.  Birch leads the chase and with dare has shaved a few lengths off the gap as the bunch fly through.  He looks over his shoulder and realises he is in no mans land, the bunch has sat up…is the chase over already?
With barely a hint of organisation the “chase” bunch has been reduced to nine individuals intending to just survive.

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Over the Hendersons Road climb and they pass through the finish line with two laps remaining.  Canny is already heading up the Avenue, though with some teamwork they could possibly bring him back.
Survival trumps teamwork…they head up the Avenue and watch the distant Canny blend into the sea of greenery.

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Canny is racing away to possibly his first win in the Club Championship.  He watches the power meter and he remembers to drink.  The gap has been made, now to press the issue!  The bunch is no longer chasing.  They have consigned themselves to racing for the minor placings and a race within the race has developed.
One by one, individuals surge or make a short attack, all with the aim of wearing opponents down and it works as Bowman finds himself off the back.  Brien uses his skills to open a gap through the chicane.  The bunch respond and bring him back by the climb in Hendersons Road.  They crest the rise, receive the bell lap and have just ten kilometres to stake a claim on a medal.

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Mirabella is quite active over the next five kilometres – surging, easing, then surging again.  He has riders on their absolute limits, but they keep clawing back.

Ahead and Canny is time trialling his way to yet another famous victory.  The slightest of hiccups as he receives a red flag for a vehicle at the base of weatherboard – then away he goes again.  His gap is measurable in minutes…

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Canny sweeps through the final bend when the bunch sweep through the chicane.  He takes the final ascent with ease and cruises to the finish where he is greeted by much applause – all hail the new Club Champion.

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The bunch take the final turn.  No-one wants to play their cards too early.  The sprinters are happy to be towed up the hill, but the slow twitch riders need to stretch it out into a grind.
Ley goes first early on the hill.  Lee is on his wheel in a flash and Birch is next.  Mirabella draws alongside Birch as they all overtake Ley.
Over the hill and Lee kicks, Birch can’t respond immediately but they have gapped everyone else.  Lee holds his gap to the line and claims second ahead of Birch.  Ayres rallies late to come through in fourth with Brien close behind in fifth.

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Championship race results, 70 km:
1st – Tim Canny
2nd – Craig Lee
3rd – Jason Birch
4th – Matt Ayres
5th – Stuart Brien

Thank you to all who made the day a success – referees, marshals, kitchen, spectators and of course the riders.

Photos L-R:

Tim Canny unpinning the Phoenix dossard from Greg Ley’s (Club Champion 2016) jersey.
Greg and Tim hamming up the handover of the dossard.
The Champions – Brian Ure (Division 2), Tim Canny (Club Champion), Graeme Parker (Division 3)

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