The sun was out at the Niagara Café, as 32 junior and senior riders lined up for the last race of the season.
The 62k “out and back” handicap has always been known as a lumpy and challenging course – for both riders and handicapping logistics.
With only 1 A grade rider in attendance, the pressure was potentially on the strong field of B and C grade riders to hold it together and turn on a team performance.
24 minutes was the time gap between limit and Matt Zenovich who was riding off scratch by himself.
All the old heads will tell you, communication and riding together as a team is key in any handicap, but as fate would have it – the hilly nature of the course split all of the groups up on the first hill - leaving Zeno the opportunity to steadily pick off individuals and bunches of only 2 or 3 riders.
By the half way turn around Tony Ragget and Alan Milne were riding well together at a steady pace and had the front of the race.
Marty Lohery, Craig Sadlier and Pete McKenzie were also riding well only 3 minutes back and closing in fast on the front two.
Then it was Andrew Lienart, Grant Colbran and Simon Kennedy, a further 3 min back, riding very well together and looking like they were flying.
Zeno was next through, he had caught 75 percent of the field by this point and made up 16 mins of his 24 min handicap.
The 10 to 15 kph head wind home was starting to take its toll on the small bunches.
With 15km to go Zeno had caught the front of the race with Andrew, Grant and Simon in tow.
It was the last hill that dislodged Grant and Simon leaving Andrew Leinert the task of holding on to Zeno in the final stages.
As the crowd watched the two riders coming to the line is was obvious that Andrew had recovered well enough to dig deep for one last effort and timed his sprit perfectly to take a thrilling win over Zenovich.
Then it was Simon Kennedy rolling over for 3rd closely followed by Grant Colbran and Shane Pointin.
In the 38k juniors race Mitchel Fitzsimons took the win from Navarh Brotherson and Hunter Gough.
And in the 19k junior race it was Marshall Erwood taking the win from Reuben Heslip and Jack McLeod.
I hope everyone enjoys a well-earned break and we’ll reconvene early July for the start of the new and exciting 2107 Winter Race Programme. I’d like to thank everyone who helped out making it a very enjoyable day and Laura and the team at the Niagara Café for the fantastic hospitality and the awesome batch of home-made scones and muffins.
Report courtesy of race manager Brendan Akeroyd