The racing season’s longer races kicked off on Sunday with the Peter Berg Memorial Trophy from Cloncurry. The race was a 60km one-way format with known handicaps. The small field of 9 meant there were some adjustments to handicaps on the day. The weather in Cloncurry made for a beautiful, but challenging cycle with warm sun and a light cross wind from the riders left side. Racers started from the turn off to Chinaman Creek Dam cycling back towards Mount Isa to the driver reviver in memory of local cyclist and triathlete Peter Berg who was killed while training on the Cloncurry road 8 years ago.
Lyn Roughan set off first, with Jason Ahearn, Kiri Bunker and Linda French next, with a 7 minute handicap. David Atkinson and first time CCCC rider Conor te Kloot left at 10 minutes, while Matthys Labuchagne joined the Bennett brothers, Leon and Mace with a 15 minute handicap. The field saw 4 Mount Isa riders including the only women up against 4 strong Cloncurry riders. However, the Bennetts and Atkinson would have been feeling every km, having completed the annual 107km cycle to McKinlay the day before.
Jason Ahearn was dropped early by the Bunker and French, who had caught up with Roughan by the 19km mark. Roughan hung on for 3km, but was soon dropped by the strong female duo. At the back of the pack the Bennetts and Labuchagne caught Atkinson and te Kloot, with te Kloot hanging on, but Atkinson dropped. With 20km to go the strong backmarkers caught Bunker and French, however the girls proved they've been putting in some training keeping up with the lead pack until the end of the race.
The final 6km put on some very rough road conditions for riders, just as the profile was ramping up. The last of the hills was too much for French who fell away from the pack. Then Labuchagne attempted a breakaway sprint, but misjudged the timing and fatigued early to be caught by the Bennett brothers.
It was a sprint finish to the end with Leon Bennett taking line honours with .02 seconds to spare. Whether the difference on the day was down to the number of beers consumed at the Walkabout Hotel on Saturday afternoon, we may never know.
The Copper City Cycling Club thanked volunteers including Sherrie Atkinson, who multi-tasked driving the lead vehicle and time keeping and John and Glenda Scarborough, who, after 25 years with the club are leaving Mount Isa for new horizons on the coast.
The Scarboroughs were recognised as life members of the club for their contribution as riders, and more recently dedicated supporters and volunteers. They will be sadly missed by the crew at Copper City Cycling Club and we wish them all the best on their new endeavours.