ONCE AGAIN THE ORGANISERS CONJURE UP ANOTHER MAGNIFICENT CYCLING COURSE. THIS TIME THROUGH THE ROLLING HILLS OF MILLAA MILLAA. HOWEVER THE TESTING 16 KLMs PER CIRCUIT had a strong percentage of riders in all grades succumbing to the testing terrain, and just to finish was itself an achievement. The A Grade Field of nine headed out on to the Palmerston Highway on their five lap journey led by Mark Hogan with all riders’ content to ride together for the short trip to Theresa Creek Road when instantly they were confronted by the first of the demanding hills.
Simon Hubbard was the first over the initial rise and again topped the second in the lead and had nicked a couple of seconds until gathered in by Tobia Kipper. Simons teammates Damien Ingram, Gary Haydon and Mark Hogan were looking a formidable bunch well into lap one, however they knew well who was smack on their wheels, for as well as the inform Kipper the race included u/17 state road champ Luke Azzorpardi, the well credentialed Bernard Cossar – Smith, noted Climber Kieran Mouldey and having only his third ride with the club 21 year old South Australian Thomas Beddome plus tough journeyman Peter Bridgewater. Mid way through the first lap Luke Azzopardi having just last week successfully claim the Gold Coast under /17 Darren Smith Classic suddenly wobbled to a stop having blown a left hand crank bolt and it was RACE OVER for the rising star.
Sensing an issue behind him Ingram went with Hubbard and pinched a break, with Mouldey out after them and as they completed their first lap Hubbard and Ingram had gone through in an amazing 28 min and 11seconds and had a slight margin over Mouldey with Cossar – Smith and Peter Bridgewater looking for support to close the gap. However by Ellinjaa Falls on lap two it was group compacto. Through the hills well into the second lap Hubbard, Ingram and Mouldey had now being joined by Thomas Beddome and the foursome applied pressure and slipped away, this left Kipper stuck in no man’s land being followed by Bridgewater, Cossar-Smith, Hogan and Haydon and cracks were starting to appear due to a brutal tempo covering 32 klms of relentless hill climbing Tobia Kipper and Gary Haydon were gently slipping off the back and the first major surprise was the retirement of Bernard Cossar –Smith as the remainder headed out on their third lap. The second lap only slightly slower than the first. This race was fast and furious.
This lap saw the demise of both Kipper and Bridgewater leaving only Mark Hogan now 52 seconds behind the tearaway foursome of Hubbard, Ingram Beddome and Mouldey with Mark now the only one left capable of possibly re-joining the leaders. Lap three certainly had its moments with Simon Hubbard fiercely ripping off his helmet to remove an errant BEE and a large Friesian Cow standing right in the middle of the road watching calmly as the four leaders cleverly rode by. The order at the start of the final lap was Beddome leading Hubbard, Ingram and Mouldey with Hogan having two teammates up the road calling it a day at the end of the four laps. The four left had run the rest of the field ragged and with 16 klms to go all had solid claims for victory in particular Simon Hubbard who continually pressed forward when the opportunity presented itself. Hubbard along with Ingram and Mouldey weren’t going to die wondering often disrupting the field through the early stages. However the diminutive form of Tom Beddome had cruised into major contention appearing to actually enjoying the testing course and on this final lap he and Hubbard really applied the pressure and when they topped Woolley’s hill the duo rolled out to a twenty second lead, and try as they might Ingram and Mouldey couldn’t go with Beddome or Hubbard as the lead ever so slowly edged out to around 30 seconds. Whilst Hubbard continued with rolling turns it was clear that Beddome sporting the colours of TEAM NAVY had a slight edge on Hubbard in the hills and with an uphill run to the line, it appeared to those following, that the edge to Simon’s usual strong finishing burst may be diminished slightly. However a sprint never eventuated as with a couple of hills left over the final kilometre, Thomas Beddome in only his third ride for the club started to forge clear of Simon Hubbard and in a magnificent performance went on to defeat Simon by 39 seconds with Damien Ingram who had been clearly passed by Mouldey about 6 klms out, rallying in the later stages to comfortably take third place a couple of minutes behind Simon with Kieran Mouldey fourth. Nine started four finished with all four putting up a fantastic spectacle over a very picturesque, but very tough course.
This fiercely competitive grade was reduced to only six riders when Peter Bridgewater was elevated into the A’s. Maybe the toughness of the race had filtered through, therefore scaring they that might be wary of the 1206 metres of climbing over their 4 lap course. However when you note the calibre of the 6 starters this may also have been a contributing factor in the smaller than usual field size. So away they went with Scott Beaven having a stellar season rolling out with Greg Reynolds who has taken all before him in recent Track and Criterium racing, plus adding to the strength of the race were Tom Cook, Grahame Allen and Gavin Butler all three being hardened regulars capable of podium finishes no matter what the terrain and having his first ride with the club mountain biker Vince Marcel.
It didn’t take long for the action to begin with Tom Cook swinging off the Palmerston into Theresa Creek Rd surging to the top and establishing an early break of around 100 mters. However over the first rise and on the descent Greg Reynolds having a real problem with his seat was an instant casualty so now there were five. Cook was reeled in by Beaven and they had a break over the Woolley’s Road hill from Vince Marcel, Grahame Allen and Gavin Butler with Gavin trying to find his rhythm due the monitoring of his heart rate. The Order passing through the first lap was Beaven leading Cook, a few seconds in advance of Marcel and a similar distance back to Butler now seemingly back to his normal pedalling. However at this point Grahame Allen though still very much in touch appeared to just fall a little of the back a very unusual place for Grahame to be.
On this lap the race was looming as a battle of three as Cook, Beavon and Marcel had broken away from Allen and Butler. This was the way through the next 32 kilometres although at one stage Gav Butler made a determined effort to catch the leading trio, only this was thwarted when they spotted Gav’s attempt and upped the ante. The order at the Bell 16 klms out had Marcel, Beaven and Cook now leading Butler by a couple of minutes and a similar distance to Allen.
The three riders headed for the hills with nothing between and it was only toward the very end that Tom Cook was starting to give away a few yards to Beaven and Marcel, and as they swung up the final rise to the finish, it was a battle Royale between the super consistent Scott Beaven and the new kid on the block Mountain Biker Andre Marcel. As they hit the line Andre packed too many guns for Scott to win narrowly with Tommy Cook only a few seconds astern. Fourth in Gavin Butler and Grahame Allen. You only had to look at Scotty Beaven’s face to see how tough this race was as HE and all that finished left nothing on the course.
The Biggest field of the day had ten starters face their three lap test including Nigel Hales and Steven Davies elevated up a class when the D Grade race was cancelled. Race away and this grade always competitive had no surprise when Russell Eustace Mr Aggressive took early control and he had for company during the first hectic lap Mark Procter, Jason Whiteside, Michael Slattery, Andrew Mills and Frederick Boin. However most of the field intact as they completed the first lap, the order being Mark Procter leading Andrew Mills, Russell Eustace with Fred Boin, Jason Whiteside, Mike Slattery and Steven Davies having a terrific first lap considering the rise in Grade all mentioned in close attendance.
However as the Official vehicle following A Grade went passed we noticed Sprint Queen Gaby Thomasz sitting on the grass taking selfies. Having been placed in her passed five races, this hilly course was enough for the smiling sprinter to admit, this was not going to be her day, and Gaby was out.
Through the second lap to the bell Eustace continually made breaks in the hills, only always reeled in by Whiteside, Mills, Procter or Mills and riding comfortably in the group the French Flash Frederick Boin however all in with real hopes of winning. At the bell Fred Boin led but only seconds in advance of Mills, Whiteside, Procter and Eustace. At this point drifting out of contention were Davies, Slattery, Mitchell and Hales, all though still ploughing through the hills bravely riding on. The lead group on the final lap were all putting in superb performances and it wasn’t until a couple of Klms out that BOIN waved c’est la vie and quickly put twenty seconds on the chase group and from then on try as they might Procter, Eustace, Mills and Whiteside couldn’t peg back Boin who went on to take the win from Eustace by 30 seconds third in was Procter and Mark was followed home by Mills and Whiteside then Slattery.
IT WAS A BRILLIANT DAY and to all that competed you raced on a sensational course. All our volunteers were fantastic as was the tea house coffee. Until we climb the mountain again.