SUPER CONSISTANT SIMON HUBBARD WITHSTANDS SERIOUS BREAKAWAY TACTICS THROUGH OUT THE 69.5 KILOMETRE JOURNEY to win an entertaining A grade resumption of the Green Hill Kermesse on Sunday. Through the first lap Mark Hogan led the field up the 70 metre hill to pass the judges box on the first occasion in front of James Bartlett, Bruno Barbarisi, Simon Hubbard and Shane Gelling with the rest close in attendance. As the field descended towards Gray Road, Andrew Harper, Kieran Mouldey and Simon Hubbard pinched a small break with the following seven riders not appearing concerned at that point, they were content with rolling turns to keep them in view.
However over the next 20 odd kilometres the trio working well together still had a decent break, fluctuating being 25 to thirty seconds. The worrying point for the chase group was Simon Hubbard in superb form this season may be hard to run down, as long as Harper and Mouldey working strongly with Hubbard could stay with him.
However on the fourth lap the leader’s margin was down to fourteen seconds as Mark Hogan assisted by strong work from Gary Haydon, James Bartlett, Jamie Holman, Duncan Murray and Bruno Barbarisi swept up and shot to the front. Now it was Mark Hogan setting up a solid lead which blossomed out to a healthy 24 seconds. Hogan riding strongly topped the hill sweeping past the B Grade where their sign three to go was clearly visible. Mark still with strength in the legs unfortunately thought the sign was for him and clearly felt he had an undeniable chance of pinching the win. However over the hilltop 7.5 Klms later there was the sign three left. You could feel the air being sucked from his lungs as Hogan realized his mistake, and so it was the field compacto as they slid down the hill toward Gray Road.
With Hogan back in the bunch and heading toward the Yarrabah road Gary Haydon, Simon Hubbard, Duncan Murray and after looking in serious trouble Shane Gelling had travelled to the front, all ten riders still show. The bell lap 7.5 to go the unflappable Gary Haydon had four seconds on Kieran Mouldey riding one heck of a race and he in order was followed over the hill by Murray, Gelling, Hubbard, Harper, Bartlett, Barbarisi with Hogan and Holman well within range sitting on the back.
Now it was James Bartlett who whipped around the field heading toward the tricky corner into Gray Road and immediately set up a break of around six seconds from Mouldey and Murray seen peeping over the shoulder seeking support, which arrived in the form of Hogan not done with yet and Jamie Holman. However Bartlett was riding strongly leading all the way to the Yarrabah Road turn. Just when Australia’s worst tipster announced they won’t catch James now, the familiar colours of Simon Hubbard was seen emerging from the pack out after the tearaway Bartlett.
Hubbard wrested the lead from Bartlett with the Warrnambool Warrior Duncan Murray hot in pursuit followed by Gary Haydon and Andrew Harper. With only the last hill to conquer Hubbard was ever so slowly edging away from Murray and Haydon and topping the final rise Simon had an eight second margin as he crossed the line in front of Gary Haydon who had taken second place from Duncan Murray and Andrew Harper fourth with Bruno Barbarisi improving with every ride close up in fifth spot. It was a race full of interest and full credit to Simon who now heads to the Great Northern tour with a huge contingent of Cairns riders hoping to share the spoils in one of the Norths GREAT races.
It was plain from the outset that the wily veteran Grahame Allen was going to make sure the speed would be genuine from the outset, although having a quiet first lap Allen took control thereafter being the bench mark for the rest of the field of twelve. Early on Comeback rider Andrei Tonelli, Jason Berry-Porter, Nick Loukas rolled along in the front until Allen joined in and upped the anti. Pace strong Nathan Bursztynowicz recovering from a bout of flu was prominent with the unlucky Gavin Butler in a good spot until a puncher put him an awkward spot and Luke Azzarpardi after competing in the GREAT PYRAMID RACE THE DAY BEFOREs seemingly enjoying the Allen challenge. Almost together the field climbed the hill for the third time with relative newcomer to road racing Alex Starmer joining Allen on top of the rise with Tonelli, Berry-Porter and Tom Cook on their wheels. At this point the hot pace had found Michael Virgona badly in need of the hit out calling it a day and Classy sprinter David Hutton not enjoying the lumpy course too much dropping out of contention.
Lap four had Allen and Starmer doing a lot of the bullocking work although Berry-Porter, Azzarpardi and Nick Loukas where all being touted as possible winners. Tom Cook was the next victim of the hot speed dropping out of the race. Speaking to Tom after the race he said “there was no way I was expecting this pace today.” The fifth lap and Jason Berry-Porter had Nick Loukas for company past the judge’s area narrowly in front of Allen, Tonelli, Starmer and Azzarpardi. To the Bell seven and a half Kilometres out and only seven riders left with any chance of success as Grahame Allen once again led out from Jason Berry-Porter, Luke Azzarpardi, Nick Loukas and Alex Starmer and close on their wheels were Gavin Butler and Andrei Tonelli.
On the final lap Allen, Loukas, Starmer, Azzarpardi were the ones to beat with Berry-Porter a faint hope after doing a power of work to this point with Butler next however there were gaps appearing. With not much known of the capabilities of Alex Starmer even though Alex had put up a solid showing in a recent event, Grahame Allen was to most the likely winner until the former Northern Pride 140 gamer showed just what an athlete he is by matching it with the experienced Allen, and swinging toward the final climb the powerful Starmer defying the fact that all climbers should be of diminutive stature started edging away from Allen and Loukas to record a stunning victory from the aggressive Grahame Allen and Nick Loukas a very strong third in advance of Luke Azzarpardi fourth. They were chased home in intervals by Gav Butler, Jason Berry-Porter and Andrei Tonelli. However all honours to Starmer who handled the pace set by Allen, Loukas and Berry-Porter, by doing more than his share, a deserved winner.
Competing over 6 laps of the course only four competitors lined up including James Mort back from a short layoff Paul Mitchell, Adam Ewart and Scott Carson. Altogether through the first lap, however soon after Scott Carson SPLIT THE FOURSOME UP and pinched 11 seconds on Mitchell over the hill for the second lap, a further 10 back to Ewart and 17 back to Mort. Paul Mitchell working hard joined Carson at the top and through the next two laps had set up a race in two, as Ewart and Mort were now more than a minute behind. Not sure what happened to Adam Ewart think a punture put paid to his chances as they took the bell with Paul Mitchell still smack on Scott Carson’s wheel,and way off but still riding the affable James Mort.
Over the concluding stages Scott Carson proved too strong and edged away to win the race from Paul by around 14 seconds. Spectators then moved to the top of the hill to see the man in RED JAMES Mort turn off the Yarrabah road heading for the final climb to sew up the minor podium spot.
There is never a dull moment when in this case the warriors four Michael Etherington, Jeff Hartley, Andrew Mills and Tony Nastasi do battle on any track anywhere, and this race over the five laps was to be no exception. First lap and the usual lets ride together boys was straight out the window with Mills sneaking a 9 sec break on Nastasi and Etherington and a further 7 sec to Doc ( Hartley ) who must have been wondering what the heck is going on. However all four gathered and were back together in their normal fashion although Hartley had pinched a break mid race it wasn’t until the bell lap when the fun began. Doc Hartley had pinched a 6 sec break over the hill and was increasing that down toward Gray Road. Tony Nastisi and Michael Etherington were watching as DOC was swallowed up by the fast moving B GRADE. Tony Nastisi picks up the story. “I was watching Doc sitting on the back of B grade thinking the old fox is going to draft, then SHOCK HORROR THE SEVENTY THREE YEAR OLD MAN IN PINK took off and rounded the entire B grade field to head them off, with some riders from that grade nearly falling off the bikes as the Doc went passed. That didn’t last long as the stronger grade responded leaving Doc well up the road in front of Michael, Andrew and I with just the final hill to climb.”
The effort told as Hartley reached the start of the climb the former track champ was done, when first Tony Nastasi, Andrew Mills and Michael Etherington pushed on passed Doc and raced to the crest Tony Nastasi went on to defeat Mills and Etherinton and 15 sec back to the man who made the race thriller Doc Hartley fourth.
We might have been down on numbers but not short of action through all grades. A big thanks to all volunteers great work.
Foot note – NEVER RIDE TO DINNER ON YOUR ROAD BIKE IN THONGS not only could you miss dinner but you could be a late scratching for you’re A GRADE RACE SHOULD YOU FALL OFF.
Yours in Cycling JONESY.