State medals have been decided in 17 categories for the 2020 NSW Masters Road Race Championships in Singleton.
On a warm, sunny day, another enormous turnout of 255 riders took to the beautiful 30-kilometre circuit, starting and finishing at Glendon Hall.
With only a gentle breeze blowing, it was left to the parcours itself to shape the racing. The combination of flat country roads and short hills made for a well-balanced racing course, with the various categories ending in a mixture between bunch sprints and strong breakaways throughout the day.
With 39 starters contesting 120 kilometres (four laps), the combined MMAS1–2 had the largest field and the longest race. The action was on from the very beginning, with Chris Ball (Manly Warringah CC, Onyva Racing) attacking from the initial roll-out. The counter-attacks flew until a breakaway duo of Nathan Maybury (North Western Sydney CC) and Dwain Hesp (Randwick Botany CC) established a lead of two minutes on the third lap.
However, by the time the riders got the bell, the race had reshuffled and recompressed, and it was gruppo compacto again. With under half a lap left, Mathieu Bremaud (Randwick Botany CC) and Chris Miller (Sydney Uni Velo, Nero Continental) — both MMAS2 riders — dragged themselves away from the peloton. They held an advantage of 30 seconds all the way to the finish, where Miller surged away from Bremaud to take the win.
Behind, Mick Curran (Central Coast CC, Dhuez Racing) won the bunch sprint for third. Geoff Rickards was fourth in the sprint, which was good enough for the MMAS1 gold medal.
Ben Neppl (Hunter District CC) and Peter Wakefield (Penrith CC) started as favourites after making the podium at the Erik Mather Cup. So it would prove, with the pair escaping on lap one with Daniel McGuigan (Randwick Botany CC, Onyva Racing).
These three were clearly the strongest in the race, with the peloton unable to make in-roads into their gap. In the finale, McGuigan was dropped, leaving yesterday’s time trial champion Neppl to comfortably outsprint Wakefield for his third victory of the week.
The MMAS4 race was largely one of attrition rather than obvious aggression, with a consistent, hard pace dislodging riders over each successive hill. Of the 35 starters, nearly half would be dropped by the end, coming home in their ones and twos.
Jeremy Ryan (Bathurst CC, D2F Racing) and Bob Brace (Penrith CC) emerged with a two-man attack, holding on to contest the victory, where Ryan would win the sprint. 26 seconds later, Chris Ling (Dulwich Hill BC) won the bunch sprint for bronze.
The MMAS5 peloton was in a miserly mood, reeling in any potential escape as it emerged. A large bunch of 20 riders contested the eventual sprint, where Matthew Glanville (Randwick Botany CC) won ahead of Andrew Giovanetti (Hunter District CC) and Jon Leighton (Harlequin).
Likewise, the parcours could not separate the MMAS6 riders. Their race ended in a field sprint between 18 riders, where Nigel Perry (Hunter District CC) won by a clear length to his nearest rivals, Alistair Lane (Coffs Harbour CC) and Ian Bryant (Southern Cross CC). Channelling his inner Julian Alaphilippe (but twice the Frenchman's age), Perry sat up and shrugged his shoulders with 50 metres to go, as if to suggest the whole thing had been too easy.
Like the MMAS3 race, three riders emerged as the strongest of the MMAS7s: Ross Bowles (Harlequin), Mark Windsor (Bathurst CC) and Trevor Hyde (Sutherland CC), who broke away from the field and were never seen again.
Hyde was dropped before the sprint, where Bowles outkicked his Bathurst rival for a deserved gold. Gregory Barnes (Manly Warringah CC) clipped away for fourth, while Paul Bradley (Penrith CC) won the bunch sprint for fifth place.
Being a small field of just 11 riders, the MMAS8 race split up early, with a strong trio emerging by the middle of lap one. In the finale, Robert Hadley (Hunter District CC) was pushed to the line by Roger Cull (Sydney CC) but took the win comfortably in the end. Peter Ritchie (Manly Warringah CC) rounded out the podium.
A field sprint would decide this race, with two local riders in Rod Price and Kenneth Hatch (Hunter Valley Masters CC) taking first and third respectively. Defending MMAS9 champion Harry Rourke (Waratah Masters CC) finished as the meat in their sandwich for silver.
Of the MMAS10 riders, Richard Spinks (Northern Sydney CC) was 9th in the bunch sprint, earning him the gold medal. Kevin Donovan (Sutherland Shire CC) finished just behind for silver. After being dropped early, Hugh Gray (Central Coast CC) soldiered on by himself to finish 27 minutes down and take bronze as the very last rider to finish on the day.
After a change to the technical regulations, this year’s combined race saw the younger Masters women take on the longer distance of 90 kilometres, bringing it into line with the national championships. Fittingly, today's race was graced by the green-and-gold national champion's jersey on the shoulders of WMAS1 Australian champion Bree Playel (Manly Warringah CC).
With so many categories represented and such a relatively long day in the saddle, the riders appeared content to wait until the end to settle the score. No breakaway was established as the peloton steadily chipped away at the kilometres to go.
The pace increased in the final five kilometres as riders fought for position ahead of the final climb and the rush to the line.
In the sprint, a mixture of riders from different age categories came to the fore, led by Dayna Davidson (Southern Cross CC) who took a comfortable victory in the WMAS4 category.
Next across the line was Nicole Wilson (Sydney Uni Velo Club), who took out the WMAS1 title. She was followed closely by Renee Heinrich (Dulwich Hill BC) for the WMAS3 championship win.
Nicky Western (Cheeky CC) finished 12th to take the WMAS5 crown while Jennifer Short (Hunter District CC) claimed gold in WMAS2, finishing 15th in the race.
The smallest field of the day saw 8 riders take on the 60 kilometre challenge. Lynda Behan (Southern Cross CC) suffered an unfortunate puncture and was forced to withdraw halfway.
The group split naturally with Eleri Morgan-Thomas (Dulwich Hill BC) , Lois Cochrane (Penrith CC) and Jane Davies (Lidcombe Auburn CC) — the latter in her first road race — finding themselves trailing off the leaders to finish at their own pace.
New Cycling NSW board member Kate Olgers (Peloton Sports) had the strongest sprint at the finish, taking the WMAS6 title ahead of Karen Dutton (Southern Cross CC). Maria Nash (Waratah Masters) came third in the sprint but first in the WMAS7 category.
Anna Murray (Randwick Botany CC) had stayed with the three leaders before letting go just before the end, coming over the line 20 seconds behind to take bronze in the WMAS6 event.
The NSW Masters Road Championships in Singleton conclude tomorrow with the criteriums around Broke. For full results, visit the 2020 NSW Masters Road Championships results page.
Words and photo by Ryan Miu
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