He didn’t know it when he crossed the line, but Jarrod Williams (Illawarra CC) claimed victory for the host club in today’s 63rd Ken Dinnerville Memorial Handicap.
The 19-year-old from the Avantias Pro Racing NRS team won a mass sprint at the end of the 90 kilometre race, surging clear of a group of 47 riders that fanned across the width of Cullerin Road, outside Gunning.
Zachary Marshall (St George CC, St George Continental), himself an Illawarra resident, and under-19 Devraj Grewal (Marconi CC, Team Rauland), rounded out the podium across the line.
On a grey morning in Gunning, just over 200 riders contested the first senior state open in New South Wales since March. While the rain thankfully stayed away, the stiff westerly was an important factor on a course that is shadowed by wind turbines along most of its length. That wind, combined with the rolling terrain, caught out more than a few riders early on.
Indeed, by the first of four turnarounds on the out-and-back course, each of the 10 starting groups was trailed by a steady trickle of unenviable riders losing contact. The eventual toll of over 60 DNFs was testament to the tough conditions.
Williams had begun the race in Chopping Block (the second-to-last to start), and his group reached the front of the race in the final 11 kilometres, although he didn’t know it at the time.
“It was a hard start; everyone was eager to get going. We dropped quite a few guys in the first lap. It was a bit surgey, which hurt the legs a bit,” said Williams. “When we made the catch, I wasn’t sure we were at the front of the race. I thought there might still be riders up ahead.”
While there weren’t any left by that point, a dogged trio from Limit had done their utmost to force those behind to earn their win. That trio consisted of host club president Terry Wall, together with the runner up’s father Mick Marshall (Illawarra CC) and Southern Cross CC’s Malcolm Pettett.
The three grimly hung on until just after the fourth and final turnaround. Turning back into the headwind, however, quickly spelled doom for this small band of survivors against the sharks hunting behind.
In the sprint, Zac Marshall was always going to be fancied–especially after having a slightly easier ride by starting in Group 3 – and he was the one others were marking.
“I knew Zac Marshall has a decent sprint on him, so I tried to get onto his wheel,” said Williams. “I got boxed in a bit, but basically I just let rip and hoped for the best.”
After giving a 39-minute handicap to Limit, Scratch missed out on the catch by just 55 seconds, with Ayden Toovey (Mudgee CC, Team Bridgelane) sprinting to the fastest time of 2 hours 8 minutes ahead of Ben Harvey (St George CC, St George Continental) and Jay Vine (Canberra CC, Nero Continental).
After being seeded as the strongest of the women’s starters, Gina Ricardo (Sydney Uni Velo, Sydney Uni-Staminade) was indeed the fastest woman ahead of clubmate and teammate Georgia Miansarow and Bre Vine (Canberra CC). All three finished in the lead bunch.
For Williams, being an Illawarra rider meant his win took on extra importance. The Ken Dinnerville was first run by the club in 1957 to commemorate a young rider who lost his life in a training accident.
“It’s one that all club members want to do well in. It’s the 63rd edition, so obviously there’s a lot of history,” said Williams.
“To have my name on the plate is pretty special.”
Terence Wall (Illawarra CC)
Full results: https://my.raceresult.com/156573
Words and photo by Ryan Miu