So close, yet so far..
13/08/2011 - Newham circuit - 2 laps* - 60 km
*TDR later informed the race was only two laps to aid SKCC riders to feature in the results
TDR made their way out to Newham on a cold, but still morning to partake in the SKCC Trophy Race. Hare 'n Hound "plan" in place, the lads were heartened (Duggan) and disheartened (D'Alfonso) to find the finish line moved down to the foot of the climb which typically sorted out the bunch with a hill-top finish. The revised slight-uphill sprint finish didn't change the plan for Duggan (aka "The Hare"), who was planning on attacking on the last corner with 750 m to go; but D'Alfonso was now more sacrificial lamb than "Hound", and would get no free ride to the base of the hill after feigning a chase allowing Duggan extra metres.
Steady pace early on with some half-baked attacks off the front to test the legs and resolve of the peloton. In typical C-grade fashion everyone was willing to chase pretty much everything down which made it difficult for any move to stay away. Once again Nick Smith, Michael Sparke and the TDR lads were among the protagonists, with some Richmond Cyclery riders also mixing it up.
With the first lap completed and primarily uneventful other than Duggan copping an earful about how "PRO" he was for throwing his empty bidon to Watson who was on marshaling duty, the peloton ascended the usual finishing climb for the second time. This time up, a Brunswick rider took charge of the pacing and put a bit of pressure on the peloton. The pace caught a few napping, and the Brunswick rider along with some comrades including D'Alfonso continued the pressure with no response from those who had been doing the bulk of the pace making. Duggan along with about four others who had been working on the front swapped momentary glances confirming they weren't willing to chase, and the five continued to set pace.
The five man break worked well together for some kilometres before others in the bunch sensed that the riders at the head of the peloton were riding tempo. A rally, primarily organised by Jeff Provan, and aided by a Sukie rider among others, started to work at the front and eventually reeled the group in.
With everything getting chased down, the smart among the peloton realised that preserving matches 15km from the final fling at the finish line was probably the best bet to keep SKCC riders off the podium. The even more intelligent realised that this was a perfect time to attack and stay away.
Chris Hellman, having already been off the front during the day, flew off the front with a comrade and settled in to a nice pace. The patrons of the peloton looked at each other and started indicating that the other should perhaps "pull a fucking turn". The inevitable results of such stand-offs are attacks from the wily. Responses to these attacks repeatedly surged the group toward Hellman who was on his own, still about 600 m off front after dropping his partner in crime. Rounding the penultimate corner and ascending the final rise before the uphill sprint finish, it became clear that unless an organised chase happened, Chris was going to get away for the win.
D'Alfonso moves to the front. Settles in. Smashes it out.
Great 2km chase from D'Alfonso results in the gap to Hellman coming down to about 250 m heading into the final corner. Duggan has 4th wheel behind Nick Smith and a RideWiser rider. Around the corner, D'Alfonso pulls to the left spent, the RideWiser rider runs very, very wide taking Smith with him, allowing Duggan to get up the inside and kick as hard as he can for as long as he can in 53-12. Duggan with Smith in tow on his wheel round up Hellman after 700 m of sprinting and about 20 m to go. Smith making light work of the heavier Duggan on the uphill finish coming around for the win. Hellman hangs on for third after a great ride, with a small gap to the chasing peloton.
1st Nick Smith (SUN)
2nd Duggan (BWK)
3rd Hellman (SKCC)