Riders push through tough conditions

Strong Northerly winds greeted the riders who signed on for the fourth race in the Mount Gambier Cycling Club’s Autumn/Winter series along Caves Road.

Many riders used this race as preparation for the upcoming 100 Mile Race this weekend and were intent on enjoying the race, no matter the weather.

With wind gusts reaching up to 50kmh during the race, it was a tale of two halves with the outward leg maintaining high speeds before tailing away for many on the return leg as they battled directly into the teeth of the strong wind.

The first rider away was Jason Buckland in his maiden attempt at the longer distances.

He was given an extremely generous handicap of 15 minutes before any of the other riders could leave, equating to a 7km head start, with almost 15km travelled before the final riders would begin their chase.

The second group to leave consisted of Mike Bakker, Don Sforcina and Elmer Buckland, with a further four-minute gap elapsing before another group containing Spek Peake, Harry Opperman, Patrick Langsmith and Dean Zeven were allowed to chase them down.

Craig Andrae and Gerard Coote were the next to leave, two minutes later, with a further wait of two minutes before Malcolm Tirabassi and Matthew Opperman started their chase.

Finally, three minutes later and 27 minutes after Jason had left the line Nicholas Kidman and Niel van Niekerk started to hunt down the riders ahead of them.

There were some hard luck stories among the riders today, with a flat tyre ending Andrae’s race 12km in and a dropped chain causing Sforcina to drop out of his group and race hard to try and catch back on.

Other groups also splintered in the high-speed ride to the turnaround marker.

After enjoying the tailwind down to the turnaround point, the headwind was particularly brutal, dropping speeds significantly for the return leg.

After being in front for almost 30km, Jason Buckland was passed by Dean Zeven, Harry Opperman, Langsmith and Elmer Buckland – who had managed to latch on to their group as they went past him.

Shortly afterwards, Kidman also caught the leading group, with Elmer Buckland and Harry Opperman looking to catch his draft.

By the finish line, Kidman had pulled clear of the other riders to finish first and fastest.

He was followed by Matthew Opperman just ahead of Harry Opperman, with Elmer Buckland finishing fourth in a sprint with Zeven.

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