The Tour is in full swing and with the first real test on Saturday night, a few riders took the opportunity to hit the snooze button when it came time to race their own mountain stage.

The new start location at D’Albora Marina at Akuna Bay, meant toilets, coffee, plenty of parking and a nice wide open space for sign on and some wise souls were on their wind trainers warming up. The start saw riders go straight up the eastern side of Akuna Bay with a nice 4km opening climb, the gradient would probably sit around 3 and a bit % overall at a guestimate, but i am sure that a number of riders would now have a new Strava best time for that climb. Most grades seem to take the climb fairly cautiously and i think only a few riders got spat out the back in the various grades.

Special thanks to our marshalls, who not only turned up on time, but did a stellar job manning their spots. Brad Ward our Commissaire and Tick Tock Shackleton had everything set up and running smoothly by the time i arrived and with the addition of VP Tamara, it meant that i actually got to have a race and had more than a few minutes notice to take the start line. Thanks to their efforts, it all ran relatively smoothly. We even got to enjoy some pastries that were provided by the D’Albora Marina Café down at the start line.

While no club championship points were on offer in this round for MWCC riders, a number of contenders showed up and flexed their muscles and i think we will see a number of them return to the podium next round. It is always good to have our regulars from the other clubs turning up such as Darren Byers leading the RBCC crew. Here is a wrap up of the days racing which should be read with your best Paul and Phil accents.

It was a select group in A Grade, Cervelo Masters probably took one or two and others feared the might of Caleb Jones who was returning to club racing after numerous jaunts overseas racing – the fear was that he may be dancing on the pedals up the climb. While it was an elite group of riders it wasn’t the GPM Wilson boys or Plan B of Dan Bonello who would be taking the cookies, rather it was the quads of Tom Patton otherwise known as the God of Thunder from NSCC who would be the strongest on the day.

There was some panic in the bunch when Dan Bonello and Andy Crawley got themselves in the days early break and there appeared to be some shadow boxing with the rest of the peloton, however the breakaway was not going to make it, although they got desperately close, with the strength of the riders on the front meaning that by my calculation they could reduce the deficit from the breakaway by approximately 1 minute per 10 kilometres. Caleb Jones took second in the sprint and while his mind was saying bridge to engine room – more power, there wasn’t any and as a result he wasn’t able to get the victory from Tom Patton who had done his job. Ian Gardiner of ESCC rounded out the podium, not sure of their time but Ian Gardiner averaged 330 watts apparently for the ride of his life as he had to dig very deep.

1. Tom Patton
2. Caleb Jones
3. Ian Gardiner

B Grade was a fairly solid sized field and most riders appeared to be riding at a similar level and so over all the nasty climbs everyone pretty much stuck together and there were going to be no major time gaps. Steffan North put down the hammer early in the race but this was shut down by some attentive riding, Billy Sykes tried a few surges to stretch the elastic but nothing was sticking today. On the second lap it was really hotting up with Ed Gralton often tapping out the rhythm at the front of the race, a few attacks by the RBCC riders really put the cat amongst the pigeons however this failed to blow the group to smithereens. At the final turnaround at the Berg, the bunch was still completely in tact and it was now an angry peloton and at this stage you could have put the names in a hat to pick out a winner as they were really turning the screws.

Sykes struck out first knowing that he could hold it for the distance and he was turning the pedals in anger, but today a number of riders had been very attentive of his moves and everyone wanted his wheel. It came down to a bunch kick in the final 100 metres Sykes faded for third as boom-boom and out went the lights, Gabriel Denoury charged into second with a fast finish as he ripped the legs off the remaining sprinters however it wasn’t enough to stop Steffan North from picking up his maiden win as he out sprinted all of them to finish half a bike length in front on the line. I was happy with my ride as I played the role of ticket collector and while no points were on offer today, i have decided to award myself a further 10 points anyway.

1. Steffan North
2. Gabriel Denoury
3. Billy Sykes

C Grade

The biggest grade of all, so the question of if the course was too tough for the lower grades was answered with the turn out for C Grade. The grade was split according to sign on and we had probably the biggest mix of clubs within this grade, with nearly all clubs across Sydney represented. In the first C Group, Greg Reynolds showed that he is still the Boss in C Grade and he truly was the Fox in the Henhouse and he showed this by once again being the first across the line as he stole the day. I must admit that seeing Greg take victory, it really reminded me of a young Eddy Merckx. Danny Moore was second and Steve Newman of NSCC rounded out the podium.

In the second C Grade race, we had the other riders of form from within MWCC, JJ Hazelton didn’t let me down when i said that he will be a rider to watch in the final two round of Club Champs as he crossed swords with another regular on the podium Jonathan KFC Herb and to ensure it was a MWCC podium – Chris Taylor swept in for third and hats off to him for his effort. Next month when all of these heads of state come to the front in the same race – i hope they have mercy on the other riders.

1. Greg Reynolds
2. Danny Moore
3. Steve Newman

1. JJ Hazelton
2. Jonathan Herb
3. Chris Taylor

D Grade
The grade which was probably going to suffer the most as a result of the addition of Alp D’Akuna was D Grade, but that didn’t stop a strong turn out particularly from our MWCC club mates. These were the riders that had to stare at the pastries the longest at the start line. While a few riders red lined up the climb and found themselves in a spot of bother, it appeared from all reports that most riders who did dislodge early were able to close it down somewhere out on course although there definitely was one or two riders who would have been the Lanterne Rouge.

A small group of 6 did escape which contained most of the pre-race favourites. Pre race favourite Ed Shilland suffered a mechanical out at the wall and that ended his dream of a being a three peat on the podium because the team car did take some time to come out and collect him. Once he was dislodged a group of 5 continued to push the pace with the engine room being lead by Craig Bryant and Mitch Dixon and the escapees were taking incredible risks to stay away. However, Craig wearing his mask of pain got pumped out the back on the first pass over the berg as he was suffering like he has never suffered before and then, another new rider rather than turn at the turn around point decided to keep going down McCarrs Creek to throw in an extra climb and also throw away any chance of victory.

Martin Richards briefly dreamed of victory with every turn of the pedals but he was only able to manage third after he found difficulty towards the top of the final berg, he looked into his suitcase of courage but he found it was empty. Alistair Thomson must think that this cycling game, is pretty good – racing on a day licence he was introduced into the cycling cult with a second place but he was put into a spot of bother by the unbelievable exploits of the unstoppable Mitch Dixon and he collected the golden fleece in D Grade.

1. Mitch Dixon
2. Alistair Thomson
3. Martin Richards

Once again a solid morning of racing on a testing course. Hope to see you all again in August – 12 August. Again we will be starting at the D’Albora Marina at Akuna Bay, the club also has the cyclocross series running at Terrey Hills with the next race on the 28 July. Looking further into the Calendar – 26 August will be the Akuna Bay Hill Climb – everyone welcome.

Thanks must also go to the D’Albora Cafe at Akuna Bay, who provided the pastries and the bike racks at the race this morning. The cafe is open on the weekends and during the week and it is worth stopping in for a coffee mid ride at the cafe. The cafe is welcoming to cyclists and has the bike racks set up so that there is somewhere to park your bike while you enjoy a coffee overlooking the bay.

Ride Safe,

Club Secretary