With the aim to create a more level playing field, an extra grade was slotted into the program for the new Addington Heights circuit. Along with the fair north wind on the circuit, the grading ensured that the race would be a tactical affair rather than a benefit fund for stronger riders.
The 12 riders had predominantly raced against each other in B Grade throughout the season, so the grading meant little as most of them were familiar with the ability of each other...
With a stiff breeze at their backs, the first few kilometres was always going to be a fast affair, albeit no one was under pressure.
Turning west at the pig farm the bunch was soon put into the gutter by Lindsay Burgoyne and Shannon Meadows as they left just enough space for those willing to work.
The pace went out of the race as the bunch turned out of Hendersons Rd and started the long drag towards Weatherboard. Only a few riders spent significant time on the front into the headwind - Meadows, Matthew Sheehan and Ben Fahy doing the bulk of the work.
Up the rise and Dean Wells rode off the front by himself, no one else wanting to go out and play, or commit so early in the race. Wells’ lead extended out to a couple of hundred metres down the Avenue, but he sat up and the bunch had regrouped as they turned out of Hendersons Rd into the headwind again.
The next lap was almost a carbon copy of the first with Meadows, Sheehan and Fahy braving the headwind and Wells again riding off the front at the top of Weatherboard.
Once again the bunch regrouped at the turn out of Hendersons Rd. Meadows, Sheehan and Fahy once again assuming responsibility into the headwind, then through the chicane Tony Mirabella helped increase the pace on the Weatherboard climb.
This lap the bunch turned left onto Edmonston Rd and continued a long gradual climb into the headwind.
Fahy increased the pace on the downhill section to Harrisons Rd as riders started to jockey for position. The race had finally begun...
The fast turn into Harrisons Rd, combined with the crosswind soon stretched the group as they started the climb. Tim Paton and Peter Canny struggled at the back as Fahy led the fast charge up the hill with Mirabella. A group formed at the front as other nimble riders rode past those that were struggling with the pace of the ascent. Meadows, Josh Cannon, Simon Ellis and Shane Hayes all joined the front group which was now six riders strong - they had a fifty metre advantage over the highpoint of the race.
A chase group consisting of Burgoyne, Sheehan, Wells and David Hearne formed behind as they crested the climb, but by now the leaders had a one hundred metre gap and they were pressing the advantage.
Onto Langi Kal Kal Rd and the chase bunch started to gain on the leaders, but their relentless chase had dropped Hearne. The lead group had also lost a rider, with Meadows unable to cope with the surging after his earlier efforts into the wind.
The gap was less than fifty metres again when under the urging of Ellis the leaders started working as a more cohesive unit. With the finish line still some 15 kilometres away, now was not the time to play games with each other!
Meadows joined the chase group before Addington but the leaders had commenced track turns up the Edmonston Rd climb and again pulled away from the chasers.
Onto the Avenue again and it was full gas by all parties (check out Strava for the efforts on this segment…). The lead gradually grew out to a few hundred metres as the race turned back onto Hendersons Rd and headed towards the home turn at the pig farm.
The chase bunch realised their efforts were for nought and eased off, content to ride in together.
Tactics came to the fore as the leaders swept into the stiff headwind on the three kilometre long run to the finish line.
With 700 metres to go, Fahy attacked down the final decline towards the dry bed of Lake Learmonth. Hayes pulled himself inside out to chase Fahy down. Eventually he closed the gap but he had also taken Mirabella and Cannon with him.
These two sprinted for the victory with old hand Mirabella prevailing over young buck Cannon.
Fahy hung on for third from Hayes with Ellis in behind. In the end the leaders were over a minute clear on the chase bunch.
It should be noted that Simon Ellis didn’t leave everything out on the road. Recovering from a virus, Simon had enough left in the tank to engage in a minute long bout of post race vomiting. That’s either guts to be out racing…or nuts!
1st - Tony Mirabella
2nd - Josh Cannon
3rd - Ben Fahy
4th - Shane Hayes
5th - Simon Ellis