The final race of the Mt Gambier Cycling Club’s Summer Series was held in overcast skies with a strong WSW breeze, meaning the final 4km were tough for all riders on Sunday. The race was set down as a 40km shotgun start, where everyone would start at the same time, but from different starting positions.
Right out the front, Damian Buckley and Jen Buckland were given a mark of 12km, but found they had only ridden 10.5km by the time the start was given, so they could turn 750m before the official turnaround.
The second limit group of Jamison Buckley, Harry Opperman and John De Pree found their marker at 7km, meaning a race of 33km was in store for them, while Phil Stasiw and Dean Zeven were prowling just 500m behind.
Bruce MacLaughlin and Rob Mann started 500m further back for a 34km race, while the second scratch group consisting of Matthew Opperman, Dave Bryant and Niel van Niekirk had a 2kphead start on the lone scratch rider, Nick Kidman, who would be riding the full 40km.
At 9.45am each group duly began their race and Buckland and Damian Buckley worked together out in front, as behind them some riders found the going tough. A large group formed for the chase out of the middle groups, with Stasiw and Zeven teamed up with Harry Opperman and De Pree to catch the lead pair, Jami Buckley and McLaughlin managed the tiredness in their legs.
Kidman worked away at the back of the pack, but as a lone rider, was not able to make inroads. With 4km to go the riders turned back into a strong headwind for the final push. Buckland had managed to distance herself from Damian Buckley and remained in front to ride strongly to victory.
She finished about 500m ahead of the chasing pack with Harry Opperman edging out Stasiw to complete the podium. Zeven finished just outside the top three, followed by Damian Buckley, De Pree, Matthew Opperman, Mann and Bryant. Matthew Opperman was declared the winner of the MGCC Summer Series, just ahead on aggregate of Harry Opperman and Kidman.
On Saturday, Molly Opperman and Freya Miller rode in Hamilton as part of the South West Series Hamilton – Port Fairy race and finished first and fourth respectively over the 8km course. Molly Opperman arrived at the club race on Sunday morning a little tired but ready to ride again.
She took on Elmer and Eddie Buckland in a 10km ride, with the riders to work together for about 8km then a short race at the end. Unfortunately, Elmer and Molly found the lack of pace not to their liking and rode away from Eddie.
In the sprint to the line, Elmer Buckland took home the honours and was able to ride past Molly, with Eddie arriving later. Four riders from the Mt Gambier Cycling Club took part in the Hamilton to Port Fairy Race as part of the South West Cycling Series.
Bryant finished in the top 10, an excellent return to racing following the crash last month. Mann, Matthew Opperman and Spek Peake also finished the tough ride in difficult weather.
Junior riders, Harry Opperman and Jamison Buckley also competed in the Under 15-17 race held over 20km, finishing fifth and eighth respectively. The cycling club will now turn its attention to the upcoming Soldiers’ Memorial Race held on Anzac Day and the 100 mile Classic weekend to be held on May 15th & 16th, with an Autumn/Winter Series to follow.