After 8kms Newell punctured and rolled to the front of the bunch... none of us were sure if there was a follow car with wheels, or if he had stuck a wheel in the lead car? A little bit of confusion in the bunch so we all sat up and rolled easy for a km or so. Before we had decided it was 'race on' again one rider was up the road solo, another was chasing, and Ward comes rolling through screaming something about this being a bike race. Fair enough, I guess it was race on again. Newell wasn't seen for the rest of the day, so it was race over for him. Into the strong head wind nobody wanted to pull turns on the front. I've spent too many recent races in the wind near the front because of the low numbers in A grade, so I was doing as little work as possible. Its also easier to get away with this when there are more people in the bunch. :)
Don Rd, the final 3-4kms of the circuit, was as we expected. A cross wind, up hill, and we were all in the gutter. Lap two was much of the same, Steffers took off solo for good length of it but was caught before the return trip into the wind. A few attacks that were closed down quick smart. Onto lap 3 and the bunch was still mostly intact. The head wind home made any solo or small breaks almost impossible to stay away. I attacked the bunch at the base of the Rochford climb. At about 1km in length, it was long enough to break the legs of a few riders. At the top we had eight riders left. Mueller, Sutherland, Bertovic, Hanley, Quinn, Steffers, me, and an someone I didn't know (but he was looking serious with his wireless SRM) :) We all pulled good turns into the wind back to Don Rd where it was 'race time' to the line.
3kms from the finish, Sutherland attacks up Don Rd and Bertovic follows. I let them go and wait for someone else to work. It didn't happen, and here is why. Steffers was in the hurt box already and up the back, the wireless SRM guy wasn't near the front. Mueller rides for the same 'team' as Sutherland. Hanley and Quinn ride for the same club (and team?) as Bertovic, so they weren't chasing. I also ride for the same club as Bertovic, but that didn't mean I was going to soft pedal. This left me a little stranded... By the time I worked out what was going on, it was too late to get across to the two riders up the road, it would be a race for 3rd between Hanley, Quinn, Mueller, Wireless SRM dude, and me. SRM dude attacked and I closed it down. Mueller was on my wheel as I hit the front, I swung an arm at him, and I got "I've got a team mate up the road, I can't pull a turn". Great. Into the gutter for you then. And thats where he stuck for the final 3kms, on my wheel, "unable" to pull a turn because his team mate was up the road. Quinn threw in an attack and I closed that, my pilot fish still on my wheel. 300m to go and I jumped off Quinn to the line. 3rd would have been nice. Mueller who had a nice sit rolls me easily for 3rd and I come in 4th. Arh well... that's racing. I should have dug deeper and jumped across to the two leaders as they took off. I guess my race went to plan, so I was happy with that. It was my attack at Rochford that did the most damage to the group, so getting 4th after burning matches doing that isn't bad. I somehow missed out on the wine, flowers, and photo opportunity for being the "first masters rider" as it was awarded to the "first M2+ masters" rider...
1. Jake Sutherland
2. David Bertovic
3. Gary Mueller
4. Shane Miller
5. Harry Hanley