TDR lads headed out to Balliang to compete in the Brunswick Cycling Club's John Sewell memorial handicap. 77 km of undulating open terrain. One short steep climb. Brutal cross-winds. 3 laps and 3 kms of gravel each lap adding to the difficulty.
D'Alfonso and Duggan were off 9 minutes, chasing limit off 28 minutes. A scratch group depleted of a number of heavy hitters who were away for Scotty's Race at Shepparton meant that there was a good chance that one of the other groups might stay away and pinch the win.
The 9 minute group worked well together for the first two laps and chased down a number of groups in front. Swallowed up and thrown in the gutter by the 6 minute group at the start of the third lap, D'Alfonso and Duggan ate their bars and held on. The now large group swallowed up all but two riders who were still off the front at the lead of the race with half a lap to go.
The last ascent of the hill sorted out the stronger riders from those just hanging on, and the next 10 km of crosswinds cemented the split. Duggan had managed to make the split and helped throw in some big turns to chase the final two. The leading riders were rounded up on the gravel section after staying away for the majority of the race, and then cat and mouse antics began. Lots of chat. Lots of agro. Riders run off the road. Action aplenty.
Duggan had stayed out of trouble and made his way to fifth wheel as they went through the final corner. A SKCC rider kicked early riding strongly away from the other lead riders. Duggan seized the opportunity and kicked past the other two 6 minute riders to take second, ruing not going earlier for the opportunity for the win. D'Alfonso finished strongly outside the top 10.
A good day out and happy to get a Brunswick rider on the podium, splitting the SKCC riders.
(Photos courtesy of B. Mangano)