First held in 1962, the Keyser Cup is one of a series of iconic races on the current Albany Cycle Club’s calendar. While the course has varied over the years, the handicap race has maintained its traditional kermesse style; that is, a lap race around an extended circuit. The current course starts at the top of Serpentine Road, following a loop around Hanrahan Road, Carlisle Street, Parade Street and back onto Serpentine. Like its Belgian namesake, the climbs are not especially long, but the repeated hard efforts tend to turn the legs to a blancmange like consistency.
The first rider off was Paul Terry who rode a great race holding off the chasing groups until the fifth of six laps. Next off, the eight-minute group of six riders was probably capable of holding off the remaining groups, but all appeared to be auditioning for the role of Brutus and the lack of cooperation within the group conspired against them. The work shirking shenanigans started on the first lap and continued throughout the race. There were a number of half-hearted attempts by riders to get off the front and break the group up, but they were all brought back, and the tactical high jinks kicked off all over again.
In stark contrast, the twelve-minute bunch were focussed on catching the eight-minute bunch and worked cooperatively throughout the race. When riders struggled on climbs the group eased the pace to ensure they stayed together. Newcomer Ryan McLaren expressed a particular distaste for the 10% pitches of Parade Street, but he’s new to Albany and the fondness will grow. On the fourth ascent of Carlisle they caught Matt Bascombe who had earlier felt the chilled steel of the knife in the back of the ribs from the eight-minute group. Not long after this, the group splintered when Brett Dal Pozzo came charging by with only Colin Ashton-Graham and Michael Gardiner able to follow his wheel. Brent Schoof, who had spent much of the day on his own after being dropped out of the scratch group, joined up with those who were unable to stay in contact and they worked together until the finish.
Dal Pozzo, off scratch, steadily worked his way around the course, catching first the twelve-minute group before connecting with the eight-minute group at the start of the sixth and final lap. Three riders, Jeff Barnes, Paul Gibson and David Beckwith managed to hold his wheel until the final ascent of Carlisle Street where his power proved too much and he rode away to cross the line in the fastest time of the day. Unfortunately, at this point of the race, newcomer Ben Murphy picked up a flat, a pity as he had ridden strongly all day and missed the opportunity to contest the finale. The remaining members of the eight-minute group then did enough work together over the last couple of rises to hold off the fast-finishing survivors of the twelve-minute group before David Beckwith, who had defied gravity to haul himself over the Carlisle and Parade climbs six times, was able to out sprint the remnants of his group for second across the line.
Unfortunately post-race due to disqualification for racing line infringement, the cup was awarded to the second across the line, David Beckwith.
Thanks to all the marshalls and timekeepers who volunteered on the day. Your time spent standing on corners is appreciated by all the riders.
The next race is a graded championship race at Elleker on Saturday, June 26th at 2 pm.