The ACT road championships is a somewhat odd event on the annual racing calendar as the smaller number of entries in each category results in a mixing of categories on the start line of each race. As a results riders need to be very aware of which other riders are in their category so that they know exactly who they are racing. Of course just aiming to win the race is a guaranteed way of topping the podium and that's the approach that the Suzuki Trek riders took in the elite, U23, U19 and Masters 1/2 mens race today.
Last year the top riders smacked it hard on the first climb over Mt Tennant and this year the same was expected to occur, however many riders were able to breath a sigh of relief as there were only a couple of small accelerations on the first climb of the day. The main action occurred later in the lap with Brendan 'Trekkie' Johnson making a move mid way through the first lap, followed closely by his Suzuki Trek teammate Will Lind. The duo got straight to work creating a race winning gap and by the end of the first lap they had a comfortable 1 minute 40 second lead on the main pack.
Heading up the Mt Tennant climb at the start of the second lap was the signal for action from the main pack with Mitch Lovelock-Fay prominent on the front, setting a blistering pace that had riders scrambling for wheels as they struggled to maintain the frantic pace. As the end of the second lap approached the two leaders had opened up the gap by another minute, although Lovelock-Fay had managed to steal away from the pack and was closing in on the leading pair at only 33 seconds. Suzuki rider Mitch Flynn had the foresight to see the danger and he joined Lovelock-Fay. This pair made contact with the leading duo around the start of the third lap, resulting in Suzuki having three riders in the break and it was clear the winner would come from this group. The riders in the main pack rode through nearly 4 minutes down on the leaders and were resigned to racing for the minor placings.
The status quo was maintained for the remainder of the race with only a few moves being made from the pack to attempt to secure a final place on the podium. In the break, Will Lind tried his luck up the final climb but only managed a small gap before easing up into the headwind over the top of the climb. Coming into the finish it was the three Suzuki lads sitting in prime position and fittingly it was the days most aggressive pair, Brendan Johnson and Will Lind picking up the first two places in the sprint, ahead of Mitch Flynn and Lovelock-Fay. With the combined categories this meant that both of these riders picked up gold medals (U23 for Brendan and Elite mens for Will).
The elite women's race at the ACT champs is always a tricky race as it's combined with the men's masters 3/4, 5/6 and support race. This means that, generally, it's the rider who makes it over the first few climbs with the faster guys that will take the win. This year the race split up into a number of groups over the first lap with the lead two females ensconced in the second group on the road. From here these riders, Lisa Keeling (elite) and Alex Nichols (U19), had their respective races sewn up and it was just a matter of pride for the race victory at the end, with Keeling outsprinting Nichols in the kick to the line.
The full results of all races and categories should be published on the ACT Cycling and CCC website soon.
It was also very pleasing to see that Argonaut Cycle Coaching riders picked up a number of medals, not the least the Gold in both men's and women's elite categories. Congratulations to Will, Lisa and all other Argonaut riders on these great results.