Just when birthday boy Andrew Harper looked set for his Maiden top grade victory a brilliant tactical ride from the man they call the CREATURE, Damien Ingram burst into clear air and spoilt the party for Andrew who put up a mighty performance to narrowly go down with Mackay’s Hamish Wright capping of a fabulous week end in third spot.
Masters 1,2 & 3 group were the first to leave the starting line to complete 10 laps of the Gordonvale Circuit. The neutral section of the race was enjoyed by all with jovial banter heard along the way. However, as soon at the commissaire’s flag dropped, the pace had immediate effect. Quickly being distanced was Adam Ewart. Not wanting to see him dropped so early, Ingram was seen to roll back to provide support in an attempt to drag him back up but the pace proved to high and he was left to roll around solo for the duration of the event.
Wiley as a fox, Al Hodge new better than to let gaps appear and managed to position himself safely in the pack as the group rounded the turn in to Russell Road. At the beginning, Russell road proved to be a little bit of respite to what was a gently influencing head wind elsewhere around the course.
Regularly seen at the front were Hubbard, Carolan, Holman, Kipper and Harper and not to be seen shirking responsibility at the front, was Josh Rayner, punching way above his weight in this quality field. This combination meant that despite the windy conditions, the first 4 laps averaged 40km/h and this began to take its toll. Sensing the pressure, Ingram set off up Russell road attempting to antagonize the bunch further and quickly the field were stretched, dislodging Hodge and had Hamish Wright, Rayner and Larcombe working overtime to stay in the hunt.
Then numerous advances were made by Tobia and Jamie over laps 5 and 6 but when met by Linc, Simon or Damien, were immediately shut down. Lap 7 had Carolan lead the group through the bottom corner with a clean exit, and in the blink of an eye he had 15 lengths, managing to gap everyone. With the wind at his tail, he was soon stretching his advantage. Caught off guard, Ingram was at the back of the field but this provided an opportunity to jump the group and set off in pursuit of Linc. One not to miss out, Hubbard was also quick to react and was hot on his heels. What looked menacing, was once again bought back by some terrific riding by Jamie Holman but that was all she wrote for Rayner and Larcombe, who showed great resilience to advance as they did.
Unaware of some confusion ensuing at the finish line, to ensure the lap board was shown to the correct bunch, the ‘3’ to go board was presented and the tactics commenced once more. Numbers were being read and podium positions were being considered at which time the group met with their miseries, with the pace being set, Hubbard rolled off the front looking trying to break the will of the field before Linc once again strolled to the lead. This time the group was content to leave him there, with the understanding he wouldn’t be able to solo to the finish with 15km still to travel or could he… Seemingly, Linc’s sentiments were the same, as soon after he resigned to being swallowed back into the field.
Rounding the corner to cross the finish line for the penultimate time, Jamie suffered a most unfortunate puncture. Showing great skill, he managed to keep it upright and avoided both cyclists and traffic alike as he careened across the verge, leaving him considering what might have been after a valiant effort all morning. His departure ensured that all remaining Masters 1 in the group were assured a podium place with only the order to be decided
All condolences aside and heading into the final lap, Hubbard looked to break of the front not once, not twice but three times. All amounted nothing more than a little bit more lactic acid in the legs of all, and with 1500m to go, Ingram found himself stuck on the front, a position that proved unfavourable last week with Hubbard taking advantage of the lead out. A feigned attack with 1km to go had him displaced, as heads began to turn to see who was going to make the first move.
As the pace increased, Tobia Kipper launched at 200 to go but with the finishing straight now into a block head wind, it was always going to be a tough affair. Managing to quickly get 4 lengths, Simon road up on his wheel followed by Ingram, Carolan, Harper, Wright and Cosser-Smith but with 75 m to the finish, Ingram and Harper came out of the slip stream neck and neck, with Ingram finding another gear in the closing meter and taking the win comfortably from Harper then Hamish Wright third over the line in another weekend thriller