Race Report - Hawthorn CC Trophy Race - Gisborne South
Briskly cold and windy conditions met Watson and Duggan as they arrived at the Gisborne South course for the Hawthorn CC Trophy race. Having yet to race here this road season, the lads were regaled with all kinds of fanciful talk about the relentlessness of the major climb lap after lap, and the danger of the cross-winds when the race really fires up. Who would have thought the majority of this banter factual...
The plan? Hang on for as long as possible and be involved in the race. We just wanted to go home after riding hard, getting a solid workout.
Roll out. Neutral until ascent of the climb and the start-finish line. 8 more laps and ascents of the hill after completing an 8 km loop to go!
Straight away the pressure was on. Several Hawthorn CC (HCC) riders had made an appearance in C-grade today that hadn't been seen all season. A bit on banter in the pack revealed that this was their first race of the season, although their massive thighs and calves indicated the contrary. Two of them went off the front immediately and Duggan jumped across, hoping to get clear with these big diesels.
Eventually reeled in, Duggan settled in to continue the pressure and high-pace, possibly to the detriment of Watson who had a mechanical on the first lap! An unfortunate slip of the brake cable meant a pad was in constant contact with the rim. A quick stop to rectify the problem meant he was off the back and unfortunately unable to rejoin. A 60 km individual time-trial ensued, ensuring he stayed in front of the D-grade bunch.
With about 4 laps to go, and some seriously slow pace up the major climb, Michael Holder (MUCyc) and two HCC counterparts jumped off the front of the pack managing to gap the field. While the response was very unorganised from the peloton, it was immediate. A number of riders including Michael Sparke (BWK), Col Bell (Sunbury) and Duggan were contributing to a sporadic chase eventually reeling in the escapees.
Whilst the pace was on, three riders went down in an incident at the back of the pack. The high pace and cross-tailwinds probably contributing. Our understanding is both injured riders taken to hospital have been released and despite losing a lot of skin, are ok. We, along with the rest of the peloton, wish them a speedy recovery!
During the chase, one of the HCC riders had jumped off the front of the breakaway, overtaken the B-grade bunch ahead, and continued to ride solo ahead of the peloton. With some confusion ensuing after the catch of the remainder of the breakaway and with Duggan setting the pace on the penultimate ascent of the major climb, Sparke took his chances and attacked.
Duggan sat up whilst the peloton decided who was going to lead the chase as both Sparke and Duggan had been driving the front of the bunch for a significant part of the race. Eventually the same Sunbury riders took charge, setting a good tempo and slowly but surely reeling in Sparke.
At the base of the final ascent, Duggan was again on the front, riding tempo in an attempt to both slow the peloton giving Sparke a chance to stay away, whilst also delaying the surge up the hill as long as possible. When it finally came led by Holder, Duggan had no legs after contributing to so much chasing. The few remaining with good legs followed Holder up the hill to the line. Holder rounding out another good ride, catching Sparke before the line to take second. Sparke a great ride for third.
The HCC rider smashing it solo off the front for 4 laps ahead of the B-grade bunch took the win and scored himself an entry into the "Sandbagger of the Year" award which TDR will be proudly presenting at the conclusion of the season. Submit your nominations now! The HCC rider is a clear favourite ahead of Sean O'Callaghan in this years Three Day Tour, who is shortening after some big bets from smart money on the weekend.