Various on course reporters have stepped up and submitted race reports and are showing there’s quite a bit of literary prowess in our club! Thank you for your submissions and thank you to all the volunteers for making this race happen; it was a glorious morning!
After a miserable Friday and Saturday, the only thing missing on the morning of the Mareeba Road Race was the sight of the hot air balloons typically seen on clear skies like that that greeted some 40 riders. It was a very crisp 10° – however by the time the riders made their way to the start, arm warmers and vests had been disrobed.
Even with a few notables missing – it was clear that training for the Tour of the Tropics was well underway, with some of the big guns coming out to play. Linc Carolyn bumped himself up to the top grade, Jamie Holman after a fantastic performance in the bike leg of the Ironman, Kieran Mouldy regularly seen stomping out the Ks across the Tableland and Luke Azzopardi showing he is finding form with a tremendous 6th place at Townsville’s Great Northern Tour and Bernard Cossar-Smith (the lone Astute team member) were all going to have their work cut out for them, with CP racing out in force. Simon Hubbard, Gary Haydon, Damien Ingram and – who would believe it – the return of Mark Bamford all making their way up the range to test their form.
Sue Helmke greeted all the riders before setting the A grade field off for 4 laps of the Mareeba course. With metronomic predictability, Ingram shot from the field to set the pace, initially with no response. The field watched him quickly establish a sizable gap, while rolling turns to see who would react first within the first 5 kms, Ingram had pinched more than 50 secs before young Luke Azzopardi embarked on trying to bridge across. Following closely to Azzopardi was the familiar gaze of Simon Hubbard, the two working well together to make up the margin.
Back in the field there was certainly a reaction, knowing that if this trio were to get away, it could be all over very early on. First went Kieran Mouldey, then Mark Bamford, followed closely by Bernard Cossar Smith and Gary Haydon. The fast accelerations over the early rolling hills quickly put pressure on Linc Carolan and Jamie Holman. Meanwhile Hubbard and Azzopardi were making ground on Ingram, however as the road ascended, Hubbard applied pressure and Azzopardi, having suffered trying to match Simon in the past elected to drift back to the field.
Ingram, seeing his ally distance Azzopardi, eased off a little to allow to his team mate to join forces as they entered the lap section of the course for the first time. Back in the pack, the pace proved a little hot for Holman and Carolan resigning to work together to complete the mission.
Hubbard and Ingram working well together were punching into a notable headwind at the back of the course yet were still slowly increasing their lead. Travelling conservatively to this point Kieran Mouldey and Mark Bamford then tried to make a dent on the two leaders with the gap appearing to stabilised at around a minute after completing the second lap. Interestingly Hubbard and Ingram appeared stronger into the wind, However the larger numbers of the chase pack carried greater speed on the downhills, therefore with the tailwind, the chase group were slowly dragging themselves onto the back of the resilient duo, with Bernard Cossar-Smith, Kieran Mouldy, Luke Azzopardi and Mark Bamford ready to strike toward the close of the 4th lap. The First counter attack came from the always aggressive Kieran Mouldy bringing seven riders all with a chance with 13 kilometres to go.
With them all together, it was back to a cat and mouse over the final lap with its rolling parkour’s and it was anyone’s race to win from here. First to go was Gary Haydon, followed by Mouldey, then Cossar-Smith then Ingram then Back together. Again it was Ingram followed this time by Azzopardi, Cossar-Smith and Hubbard, WHAT A RACE as they were marshalled on to the road back to Mareeba.
When quietly in the background, Mark Bamford, watching Wiley like a fox, launched over the group to be followed by Cossar Smith, Haydon and Mouldey. Azzopardi looked to be hoping that Hubbard and Ingram were going to drag him up, but there were other plans afoot. With a tailwind assisting in keeping the speed up, Bamford and Cossar- Smith looked to be stretching the elastic and this caused a break. It was now left to Mouldey and Azzopardi to work together if there was any hope of catching them, for it appeared that Haydon, Hubbard and Ingram were happy to leave the status quo with Mark and Bernard to battle the line honours.
And fight indeed they did. With one last climb left entering Mareeba up Chewko Road, Bamford, known for his climbing prowess, left Bernard scrambling and desperately hanging on to his wheel, while in the background, Luke and Kieran where working together with their sights set on third with Haydon, Hubbard and Ingram lapping up a little respite.
However it was THE COMEBACK KID – Mark Bamford managing to distance Bernard over the crest racing away to a fantastic victory. Second place going to Bernard Cossar- Smith in a terrific return to form. The Battle for third was still to unfold at 350m mark with Haydon, Hubbard, Azzopardi, Mouldey and Ingram all in the picture, then Ingram launched for the line from 5th wheel. Hubbard quickly finding his wheel with Azzopardi by his side, it was close however Simon Hubbard hung on for third in front of Ingram, Azzopardi and Haydon. A truly entertaining race with all participants, once again concurring what a terrific course the Mareeba race is.
Now onto race 2 of the trifecta over the hills of Millaa Millaa, although proving challenging Last year’s race was enjoyed by all riders and spectators alike. This race will be no exception and will see the return of Commissaire Bates and the Voice of Cycling. This will sure to be a litmus test of form for those competing in the Tour of the Tropics.
Jonesy (from afar)
1. M Bamford
2. B Cossar-Smith
3. S Hubbard
It was a quality field that lined up for the B grade race. Including many seasoned racers and at least one newbie (Steve Davies) in his first B grade hitout, hoping to be able to just hang on to such a prestigious field.
From the start there was a very short lull before Gavin Butler, Thomas Rue and Alex Starmer started leading the pack with a strong pace.
The pack was tightly bunched together and working turns nicely at the front leading into the first loop. Then we turned into the strong headwind and things got tough. Matthius Wust shot to the front and started pushing hard up the hills and into the wind in an attempt to test everyone’s resilience. Everyone was strung out in a line ducking for cover as the wind was strong.
Steve tucked in behind the biggest man in the field, Alex, who must have been pushing some huge watts, as no matter who he drafted, his huge frame stuck out in the wind. Coming towards the end of the first loop Gavin and Thomas were smocking downhill and trying to get a break but as they came to the intersection a turning car spoiled their plans and brought them back to the field.
Second loop was another tough run and Matthius once again took the lead up the hills and drove the pace hard.
The pack was still all together into the 3rd loop when Matthius and Alex attacked again on the hills and got a small break on the field.
The pack worked well together to bring them back as they were working very hard to try and stay away as we headed for home.
The lead was constantly changing as we headed for home with no one wanting to stay in the front for long. The hardest attack came at the last hill coming home as Fred Boin who had been hiding nicely all race suddenly leapt to the front and rocketed up the hill with Graham Allen hot on his tail, tipping a few riders truly over the edge.
Into the final 500m the group fought it out tooth and nail. It could have been anyone’s race as everyone was out of the saddle and still seemed to have plenty more in the tank for the final sprint.
1. T Rue
2. A Starmer
3. G Allen
On a perfect winter’s morning 15 riders lined up to take on the undulating Chewko Rd circuit. A mixed bag of C grade regulars, those making a welcome return to racing, juniors and even a B grader or two not renowned for their climbing prowess rolled out under the orders of Commissaire Sue Helmke.
Across the start line and it was Paul “Mitch” Mitchell who lead the peleton at a steady pace up Chewko Rd towards Narcotic Rd for the first of 2 circuits. Prominent at the front were 9 time Peaks Challenge finisher Russell Eustace, Cairns Multisport team members John Thompson and Tate Jones and the ever attentive James Mort.
First time onto the circuit, and already some cracks had appeared with recent returnees from injury, Rob Pickford and Gaby Thomasz, feeling the pinch while the experienced Michael Mehonoshen watched the race unfold safely from the rear of the peloton. A couple of speculative attacks from Fabian Williams and Thompson were quickly covered as the race swept down through the causeway and onto the fast downwind sections leading to the completion of the first lap.
Helping keep the pace steady were junior member and Tablelands local Alisha Wells along with Townsville visitor Mandy Doolan and C Grade stalwarts Alan Clarke and Mark Procter.
Back on to the false flat section into a block headwind and it was time to take stock as the second lap commenced. Several conversations were seen to take place while alliances were formed and form assessed. Inevitably a strong attack by Thompson in the tricky section around the base of Mt Uncle could only be covered by Alisha Wells and the two established a small break over the remnants of the peloton. As the two leaders turned left onto the downhill section past Mt Aunt their lead was never more than 100 – 200 metres but they remained committed to the effort and worked together well. At this point the seasoned veteran Mehonoshen came to the front in an attempt to marshal the chase but despite contributions from Doolan, Procter, Eustace and Hutton the two leaders remained just out of reach. Their lead at one point came down to less than 50 metres but, rarely looking back to check their lead, they were able to extend it out as the race headed back down Chewko Rd towards Mareeba and the finish line.
50 metres from the line and Thompson put in a strong sprint to beat the rapidly improving Wells.
Leading in the remnants of the chase group was Hutton in 3rd followed by Doolan, Mehonoshen. Clarke, Procter and Jones.
1. J Thompson
2. A Wells
3. G Hutton
D GRADE and WOMEN
A pack of 5 women and 4 men in two minds whether to start the race or head back into Mareeba for coffee, lined up for two laps (40kms) of the Chewko/Narcotic Creek Road circuit. A challenging circuit with a couple of climbs that will either conquer or divide.
In the women’s grade, Michelle Traill tried her very first road race. Terri Sullivan planned early on to ride with Michelle to support her teammate (CNS Women’s Racing Team) while Kylie Anderson and Danielle Erskine (also team members) tried to hold on the bunch.
1km in saw Wells, Erskine, Etherington and Gleeson pull away from the pack and the field started to spread out behind. By the 2km mark, Wells pulled away with Green coming from nowhere to take up the chase. Melissa Green was a newcomer to road racing and a strong cyclist from the Tablelands who in a convincing show of strength surged ahead, ultimately taking first place.
Danielle was dropped at the 5km mark while Kylie held on for longer.
But by the time they got to the Narcotic road turn off, Wells and Green where nowhere to be seen with Etherington and Gleeson next in line left to do battle amongst themselves. As always, the wind hit and the speed dropped.
Green showed tremendous strength on these windy stretches of road, taking them on with Wells sitting on her wheel for most parts. On the downhill parts, Wells showed his speed, repaying the dues from the windy uphill stretches of road, setting a great pace for Green, whilst increasing their lead on the rest of D grade.
Wells and Green finished strong with Gleeson and Etherington crossing the line together some time after, followed by Anderson, who also finished well.
1. J Wells
2. T Gleeson
3. M Etherington
1. M Green
2. K Anderson
3. D Erskine