On a dank, grim morning with most of us tucked up in warm cosy beds, last Sunday saw 23 fearless individuals, practised, ready and committed to take to the back roads of Hanwood to compete for one of GCCs most coveted trophies - the Hanwood Cup.
Donned in just the necessary slivers of colourful Lycra, riders met with GCCs race Commissaire and former top champ Rob Minato at the start line.
The riders were split into four handicap groups with six Limit riders, Brendon Sinclair, Moreno Chiappin, Brendan Jones, Michael (Winny) Wynne, Mia Stockwell and Jenny Massey, getting a slim 10-minute start - this group were going to need to pump it hard to maintain their advantage.
The 6.30-minute markers of Peter (Stocky) Stockwell, Brad Hart, Kingsley Massey and club stalwart Dick Hore needed to decide their game plan - chase the Limit riders or hold back, latch onto Chopping Block and go for broke.
Chopping Block riders Allan Jones, Chris Fuchs, Shaun (Floody) Flood, Matt Smith, Bryce O'Garey and Mitch Harrison had 3 minutes off and were keen to leave behind high-octane Scratch riders Mal Blake, Craig (Tilly) Tilston, Ed Langdon, Jason Minato, Nigel Dunstone, Angus Harris and Aidan Hill.
Into the race, Chopping Block was rolling it well with Matt Smith and Chris Fuchs showing strong form. Group three lost Kingsley Massey due to a mechanical. Towards the end of the 3rd lap, the front three groups had formed a powerful 40-50km/h peloton demonstrating proficient riding skills round perilously wet corners. Going into the final lap, Scratch was about a minute behind, with Ed Langdon, Nige Dunstone and Mal Blake pushing hard.
Turning into the home straight with an unsympathetic westerly, spokes were a blur as the peloton steamed towards the line. This was anyone's race, but in the last few metres, Matt Smith showed fine fettle giving it everything he had to power ahead and claim victory in a sprint finish over Allan Jones in close 2nd. Chris Fuchs shot over the line to gain 3rd place with Mitch Harrison in 4th, Stocky 5th, Brad Hart 6th and Floody 7th.
Limit's Jenny Massey (looking like she'd been out for a leisurely stroll) finished well. Moreno Chiappin wasn't on top form, and we later heard Tilly managed to find his way home in the dark.
The fastest time at 59 minutes 20 seconds went to stranger Ed Langdon from Leeton - the new kid in town who nearly stole the Hanwood Cup, congratulations and welcome to GCC racing Ed! Once again, Mia Stockwell proved her worth against a male-dominated field, taking 8th place. Mia recently picked up 1st female rider and 1st KOM at the Tour de Riverina, Butch Menz Memorial race in Wagga.
Congratulations to winner Matt Smith and very well done to all the day's riders for keeping upright in the slippery conditions. Many thanks to the volunteers for making the race safe for cyclists and motorists.
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