SATURDAY MORNIGS ABC’S CYCLING SEGMENT SUGGESTED THAT Paul Mashford and Bart Duraj would PLAY AN BIG PART in the opening road race of the summer, also adding that Damien Ingram due to a recent holiday to Japan may be underdone, he didn’t take his bike. Well the commentator mentioned the trifecta, however in a frenetic drive to the finish with egg all over Jonesy’s face it was Ingram who just outgunned Bart Duraj with Paul Mashford an excellent ride back in third spot.
Paul Mashford led out from the neutral area beginning at the Gordonvale Town centre out to the intersection of Crossland Rd and Highleigh Rd, Paul offering some healthy tips to those who may not have ridden this course before including surprisingly, The King of the ROAD Bart Duraj.
Lap one and as soon as they turned, it was race on as Gary Haydon increased the pace with Brandon Hutton and Matt Driver right on his wheel immediately aware of intentions.
Numerous micro attacks as they rounded the Russell road hairpin with trepidation (tracks likely to be damp in the first lap) with a fresh Ingram on the front testing the field but at this point all twelve of this elite field content to see out the first lap without incident.
Lap 2 Gary Haydon again assumed control this time with Brandon Hutton, Bart Duraj, and Kieran Mouldey right on Haydon’s hammer. This being the season’s first road race, with no one really sure of each other’s form, had a lot of the field watching each other closely. Soon after, it was the father and son combo of Michael and Cody Haseldine who took control along with Tyson Sundman showing willingness to be part of the work load!
With the back straight developing a head wind the pressure was again supplied by Ingram, this time a little more attention as the pace picked up rounding into Crossland Road heading toward the officials tent. With a solid crowd gathering it was obvious they were being treated to another classic A grade road race.
As the field swung into Highleigh Rd to commence Lap 3, Matt Driver pinched a small break from the group, gaining a few bike lengths, before a solid attack by Ingram quickly developed into 8 secs then 10. Half way up Russell Road, the inform Duraj attempts to bridge, quickly splintering the group as they try to latch on, emerging out after Duraj was Mashford and the duo ride up to Ingram forming what looks to be, the first true break of the morning. The trio were together as they rounded into Crossland before Duraj and Ingram again slipped away from Mashford with a slight break. It was during this lap that Brandon Hutton had an untimely puncture, and with the pace so high this saw a premature end to Brandon’s race.
Working well into Highleigh Road, Ingram and Duraj began to extend their lead before Mashford again took it upon him self to bridge across. Ingram and Duraj were working fluidly, taking turns while Paul recuperated after his effort, however this trio were now mounting up a decisive break as the gap grew.
Back in the group, the others looked at each other to see who was going to lift the pace before it was unmanageable.
Matt Driver and Kieran Mouldey were regularly seen at the front lifting the pace, with the likes of Gary Hayden and Bren Skerke comfortable in the fact they both had team mates up the road.
With 3 laps to go and Bart was pulling huge turns to consolidate the break, which proved a little difficult for Mashford this early in the season, yet he managed to keep contact in the break with the gap continuing to grow.
Cohesion in the chase group was beginning to fall apart, once again the pace seemed to be set by Driver, Mouldey and Michael Haseldine before settling as the other riders rolled through.
Into Lap 6 and the incessant pace set by Duraj was appearing to take its toll on both Mashford and Ingram as they were taking shorter turns and wheels were being dropped. However the result of the race was beginning to take shape, this would be the trifecta as the break appeared to be unreachable. Besides a mechanical, the podium positions were sewn up but anything can happen with still 8kms to run.
Sweeping past the judge a lap out with the bell ringing in their ears, a new vigour could be seen, as the trio knew it was their race to lose. Into Highleigh the line was Duraj, Ingram and Mashford. A steady tempo still being tapped out to Russell Road, before the first of many attacks from Duraj, scrambling onto his wheel, first Ingram and then Mashford. Surely something had to give when Duraj again ups the ante with Ingram back on his wheel. If the pace had remained then Paul Mashford may have been in strife, however it settled and Paul was still in business. What a race!
Resigning to a probable sprint finish, the wily Duraj positioned himself last wheel with Ingram setting the pace as they swung into Crossland road for the last time. With 500 to go Mashford went to the front to leave everything on the road, for the battle to the line to be fought out by Duraj and Ingram.
300 and it was still Mashford, Ingram and ever attentive Bart looking perfectly poised. 200 to go and a super brave Mashford, rolls off left leaving Ingram to sprint for his life in an attempt to fend of Duraj, however Bart had other ideas and jumped at the same time to Ingram’s right gaining 2 lengths but may have gone a touch early as Damien manages to slide onto his wheel. 50 to go and they are neck and neck but in the closing metres Ingram managed to pass Bart on the inside for the first win of the road series. All who were witness to this fabulous contest are aware of the stellar season that awaits us!
Keiran Mouldey deservedly taking the best of the rest from Michael Haseldine , Gary Haydon and Matt Driver.
Speaking after the race Damien acknowledged that Bart was clearly the stronger of the day. ‘At numerous times Bart had us on the ropes. I thought he was going to ride us off his wheel in the last 2kms – I felt a little like Simon Gerrans in the Milan San Remo 2012.’Of course we all remember that.
WITH Binnoculars fading the results of the other grades are just that, results.
B grade saw the impeccable form of youngster Luke Azzopardi continue, streeting his rivals with an outstanding ride and one may agree that at the end of the summer series the young Gordonvale rider could well be matching motors with our very best. Second place went to Cairns newcomer Thomas Beddome just moved up from South Australia with Jamie Holman, a nice return to the circuit, in third place.
C grade was taken out by Greg Reynolds backing up his good form from the recent Woree crit. He defeated Josh Raynor and Chris Chastre and a first class effort from young Klare Marcic in finishing fourth. By the way Josh, the author is gunning for you after your very funny quip on face book regarding the possible age of the same.
The D grade race to another newcomer to our road racing in Brady Mc Intyre defeating the inform Idan Pierci and Andrew Pinchen third over the line.
Yours with very strong binoculars early in the race JONESY