Storms, fallen trees and washed out roads earlier in the week were not enough to deter a roll up of 13 riders for the Albany Cycling Club Championship Short Course racing on 26 June. The Championship series heated up across all grades with the competition taking on laps of the 9.2km Elleker circuit.
As it turned out, C grade delivered the highest quality racing. With, at the start of the day, Paul Terry and Elizabeth Cooper locked on equal championship points, it was always going to be a tightly contested race.
Five riders took on three laps of the course, ramping their speed up from 31kph on the first lap, to 32kph on the second and a sizzling 33kph on the decisive last lap. The group stuck together for two laps before Paul Terry lifted the pace, Elizabeth Cooper and Julie Passmore going with him, while 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 Paul Terry surging to get into the tight final bend in first wheel, from where he launched his sprint. Elizabeth Cooper could not match the final effort, leaving Julie Passmore to start to surge past Paul in the final few metres, but the line came a fraction too soon. Paul Terry holding on by less than a wheel length and securing a valuable 10 point lead over Elizabeth Cooper in the race for the C grade championship.
B grade attracted just three riders, who treated it as a slick team time trial. Jim Watmore, Jeff Barnes and Colin Ashton-Graham working hard turns for three of their four lap race and averaging an impressive 35kph 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 just seen in C grade. But everything changed when Ashton-Graham launched an attack 2km out from the finish line. Barnes tried to respond, but the stiff headwind left him exposed and Jim Watmore powered across the 50 metre gap to be on Colin’s wheel rounding the final bend. In the final kick for the line, Jim’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.
A grade saw guest rider Beau LeFort and Albany Cycling Club’s East Coast based Craig Wiggins line up alongside other ACC Championship contenders, Brett Dal Pozzo, Michael Gardiner and Mike Staude. All the A grade action happened on the start line, with Mike Staude breaking his chain dropping massive watt bombs in the starting surge, and LeFort and Wiggins breaking away from the local championship contenders. LeFort posted the fastest time for the five laps (46km) at an impressive 41kph, with Wiggins coming in at 40kph 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. Michael Gardiner taking the points for second on the day and Dal Pozzo accumulating enough points to draw closer to the absent Riley Heslop for the coveted title of A grade champion.
Albany Cycling Club shifts to a social ride on the Munda Biddi trail on 4th July, returning for the Championship deciding Long Course race on the gruelling Spencer Road hills on 17 July; fittingly on the eve of the Tour de France finale into Paris.