What a great weekend of racing for Argonaut riders in Canberra this past weekend, with top results at Gunning and the Stromlo races club races.
Headlining the results was Roger Northcote with his stellar victory in B grade at Gunning. Not to be outdone Matt Linden and Lisa Keeling claimed victories and fastest times for the men’s and women’s grades respectively at the Stromlo ITT on Saturday. Brad Drew also claimed victory in the Men’s C category.
On Sunday Matt and Lisa backed up for the Stromlo-Condor handicap road race with Matt claiming third in the scratch bunch and Lisa taking out first female as well as the best placed rider from the small Men’s C/Women’s A bunch.
The Peter McLennan Memorial Gunning 2-day tour is one of the most popular races on the local calendar for Vets riders and with five riders toeing the start line there were high hopes for some good results.
Roger Northcote came close to claiming a top spot in last years tour but he was determined to do better this year. Some excellent planning and race tactics were the cornerstone of Roger’s racing this year as he claimed the overall victory in the B grade event. Roger’s training has been very specifically focussed for this event and the initial short prologue TT is perhaps his favourite event on the local calendar he can really get that big gear rolling down the hill. In the end there was only a 1 second time gap between Roger and the stage winner so things were going well to plan at this stage.
For stages 2 and 3 it was all about the time bonuses and making sure that he kept within contact with the main contenders. Wisely, Roger decided to skip most of the sprints and save his legs for the later stages of the races. In the end this made a big difference and Roger only lost a few seconds on stage two. Heading into Sunday and stage three was where all the action was going to be. The long stage with lots of sprint points on offer and Roger bravely stuck to his race plan, holding on to his secret weapon for the end. A few breaks got established but none were strong enough to stay away and coming towards the end the bunch had been whittled down to around 10 riders. Coming into the last km it was time to up it up and Roger jumped early, having faith in all the specific training and he was rewarded with the win and with enough of a time gap to claim a 12 second win on GC.
A huge congratulations to Roger on this outstanding performance.
A bit closer to town and the CCC and Vikings club put on a double header weekend of racing with the Stromlo-Mt MacDonald Time Trial on Saturday and the Stromlo-Condor Creek handicap race on Sunday.
The weather for both events was perfect and riders arrived at Stromlo on Saturday morning to be greeted with almost perfect conditions for a time trial. Around 40 riders lined up for the start with some of the most expensive looking time trial gear ready to be put to the test.
A few of the early starters looked to be going well but when Matt Linden flew past the 5km mark it was clear he was in for a cracker. In the end he posted the only sub 35 minute time for the day to win the A grade classification by 2 mins 11 seconds. Dave Gillies was returning from some time off the bike but along with Matt he showed that the AIS TT work he had been doing was starting to pay off and he posted the 4th fastest time in A grade.
The next Argonaut rider on the road was Brad Drew, who has improved a lot over the last 12 months and not the least in his time trialling. I could hear Brad’s disc wheel from a full half km away and he looked to be doing it easy as he passed the 5km mark. Brad went on to post the 5th fastest time of the day and win the C grade division by 2 min 5 seconds.
Starting not long after Brad was Lisa Keeling on the sweet looking Wilier Cento Crono. Lisa is relatively new to competitive racing but she has progressed in leaps and bounds, taking out all three stages of the women’s B grade Tour of Bright last year, including the time trial. Lisa is another participant in the current AIS TT study and again it looks to be paying off nicely as she clocked 38:31 to win the women’s A classification by 2 min 47 seconds.
Photo: Matt Linden on his way to winning the CCC Time Trial on Saturday. More photos are available at on Picasa.
Come Sunday and there were a few sore legs in the bunches for the handicap race, with most of the Argonaut riders backing up after yesterdays TT with a 60km motor pacing session. With all the racing on over the weekend the bunches were small and on the start line it looked like B grade might be tough to beat with some strong riders in the group. Not long after B grade had rolled away the scratch bunch toed the line and were off in pursuit. These guys are very experienced and they formed a nice smooth pace line early on, but a time check heading up out of Uriarra had them shaving only a few seconds off the B grade bunch so it looked like they had their work cut out for them.
Waiting on the climbing of the 3-sisters it was surprising to see a lone rider coming up the climb well clear of any chasing bunches and indeed it was a good 10 minutes before any significant chase bunch appeared. By this stage B grade had swallowed up the front bunches and scratch wasn’t far behind, in fact by the third sister the three leading scratch markers (Stu Shaw, Andrew Arundel and Matt Linden) had started passing some of the B graders who had been dropped on the climb. Heading up the final stretch of the climb Matt Linden just lost the wheel (perhaps a little tired after the preceding days TT and motor pacing) but it was enough for the others to establish a gap and they gradually ride clear of Matt, with Stu Shaw taking out the fastest time.
Lisa Keeling continued her good run of form claiming fastest female and also the first rider from here group to finish as she almost made it up the 3-sisters climb with the B graders.
All up a great weekend of racing and results for Argonaut riders and hopefully the run of good form continues in coming weeks are riders peak for their first target events at Bathurst and the Mersey Tour.