Cycling club hosts mini tour event

Cyclists from Copper City Cycling Club had a busy weekend of racing, competing in the club’s championship mini tour in Mount Isa over the weekend.

Events kicked off on Saturday afternoon at the Buchanan Park car park with some heart starters in the form of a pursuit-style time trial and criterium.

For the time trial, cyclists were paired up with another rider of corresponding ability and started on opposite sides of the Buchanan park track. A-graders rode eight laps, B-graders rode six laps and the juniors rode four laps. Riders were well-matched with most managing to avoid being caught by their opponent. Five A-grade riders and 11 B-grade riders signed up to race with a good mix of ages and genders and locals and out --of-towners. A slipped chain put Reece Cooper out of contention, allowing reigning Great Western Games champion Matt Norman to take out fastest A-grade time with a convincing 16 second lead on second place. It was a different story in B-grade with the top three times all within a second. New rider Neil Harvey came out on top, with Clayton Green and Andrew Maclean rounding out the podium spots. 

The junior’s race was a Bennett and Green family affair over three age-groups. All the juniors put in a big effort to smash out four laps and all finished with a smile. Credit to Holly Green for dropping brother Darcy in the final lap of a well-matched battle to take out the fastest time over all.

Next in store for those who had any puff left was the criterium. This event involves a mass start on the track, with riders racing for a set time; 20 minutes for A-grade and 15 minutes for B-grade plus two laps to finish. Ten B-grade riders started the race, with a lead peloton emerging early on when Neil Harvey went out hard on the first few laps. A change in leaders took the pace down, but it was not enough to close the gap between the lead and follow packs. In the final minutes of racing a strong lead group of Andrew Maclean, Jason Ahearn, Clayton Green, Neil Harvey, Bonnie Collins and Cory Shelley were hot on one another’s rear wheels. The final turn around was too much for Bonnie, who dropped off before the final sprint finish. Neil Harvey took line honours, only a blink ahead of Jason Ahearn, who wasn’t going to race up until about 3pm that afternoon and Cory Shelley, using some power in the final metres surged home for third place. 

In the A-grade race, all five riders stepped up to the mark with Matt Norman a clear favourite to win based on earlier results. However the Bennett’s had other plans, using strategy and team work to pull Matt back and give Mace a significant lead on the pack. The race continued like this for majority of the 20 minutes, before Matthys Labuschagne dropped off the back of the pack towards the end. On the bell for the final two laps Reece Cooper made a break to put himself in a convincing position for second place, behind Mace. Matt and Leon battled it out in the final 20 metres with Matt managing to get an edge to take away extra points for third place.

Riders were back at the start line bright and early on Sunday for the second day of racing, this time involving a longer road race. The course was a 25km out and back loop from George Fisher Mine along the Barkly Highway. A-graders raced 75km with two intermediate sprints during the race for bonus points, while B-graders raced 50km with one intermediate sprint. Cyclists were eased into the race with a favourable winds and clear skies; however the return leg proved a battle with a ferocious headwind keeping the peloton honest. A technical glitch meant final times weren’t captured, but that didn’t stop some fierce competition and strategy.

The B-grade bunch managed to stick together for the first half of the race, before the first challenge, with a surge up the hills from Spring Creek. All cyclists hung on, but there were cracks showing in the endurance of some riders and soon enough Clare Lehmann dropped off the back leaving seven riders to battle out the second lap. Kiri Bunker, fresh off a honeymoon training camp in the French Alps managed to out-sprint the men to take out fastest in the intermediate sprint and secure herself a bonus three points for the tour. With 3km to go Jason Ahearn lost momentum to fall behind the peloton and a sprint finish saw Andrew Maclean cross the finish line first, followed closely by Charlie Bennett and Clayton Green.

In the A-grade event, just three riders started, with the Bennett brothers and Matt Norman backing up from a big Saturday afternoon. In a rare show of camaraderie on the race track, brothers Leon and Mace worked together to wear out the ever-strong Matt half way into the race. Results in the intermediate sprints were a nod to a recent dedication to training from the Bennett boys with Mace and Leon each taking away three points each for fastest times. The Bennett’s stuck together until the finish line where Leon took line honours ahead of Mace, with Matt crossing a short time later.

An intricate points system was tallied by the experts once the final rider had crossed the finish line. A recent body transformation by President Mace Bennett paid dividends, with the only spare tyre to speak of tucked away in his saddle bag and the only extra weight the hefty load of prizes taken away from a successful weekend of racing. Other special mentions go to Andrew Maclean who is always a contender in the B-grade and managed to take out equal first with Clayton Green, whose recent hiatus from training following the Cairns half ironman provided fresh legs, rather than poor form. Kiri Bunker also topped off a great year of training and racing by taking out the women’s club champion.

Results:

A-GRADE:

1.       Matt Norman 7,57.15

2.       Mace Bennett 8,13.29

3.       Leon Bennett 8,19.99

4.       Matthys Labuschagne 8,30.9

5.       Reece Cooper 8,34.6

B-GRADE:                   

1.       Neil Harvey  6,40.3                   

2.       Clayton Green  6,41.5

3.       Andrew Maclean  6,41.6

4.       Charlie Bennett  6,48.95

5.       Jason Ahearn  6,58.44

6.       Cory Shelley 7,03.57

7.       Rich Norris  7,06.4

8.       Bonnie Collins 7,09.9

9.       Linda French  7,14.42

10.   Kiri Bunker 7,19.3

11.   Lyn Roughan  7,19.49