The 2014 Hector Fletcher Road Races and the John Lockwood Handicap were held on 22 November at Mt Pleasant. It seems to be a tradition that this race be conducted in poor weather, and this year was no exception, despite being scheduled for spring-going-on-summer!
The day kicked off with Junior A, B and C-grade starting from staggered start locations across the circuit. Unfortunately, shortly after the race began, thunderstorms began to roll in. The storms were highly localised: Junior A and B grade had to be cancelled due to the danger of lightning strikes, however Junior C grade were ahead of the storms and were able to complete their race. Junior C grade was won by Elliott Walker (South Coast CC) in a tight sprint finish over Braydon Jones (Central Districts CC), with Thomas Higginbottom (Kilkenny CC) rounding off the podium.
The John Lockwood Handicap kicked off shortly after the juniors and some of the riders also found themselves in trouble with the storms, with riders reporting some very close lightning strikes and electrical arcing between fence wires. Again, the storms were high localised, with other groups at the same time riding under sunny skies. Unfortunately there were some difficulties in communications (radios don't work too well under these conditions) and a few of the bunches in the handicap were told the race had been cancelled, while others continued on uninterrupted.
Ultimately, the winner of the handicap came from a strong ride from David Tichy (Kilkenny CC) who had ridden off in the 14 minute bunch and managed to finish alone at the head of the race. In second place was visiting international rider Naima Dierson, followed closely by Andrew Miller (Norwood CC). The fastest time came down to a sprint between the two scratch riders, with Mathew Franks (Port Adelaide CC) taking the fastest time in a tight finish with Christopher Green (Norwood CC).
The afternoon open scratch races started in slightly nicer weather, although the riders were treated to a monsoonal downpour shortly after beginning, and a distant lightning show. The first rider in each grade to go over Warren Hill was awarded a prize for King of the Mountain (sponsored by Biomechanics Cycles and Repairs). The KOMs were taken out by Douglas Beddome (A-grade), David Cullen (B-grade, Norwood CC), Wenqi Zhang (C-grade, Port Adelaide CC) and Ben Dickson (D-grade, Norwood CC). Similarly, there was a prime sprint at the end of the first lap for each the grades doing two laps, sponsored by Corsa Cycle Centre. The primes were taken by Karl Evans (A-grade, Norwood CC), David Cullen (B-grade, Norwood CC) and Brendan Cleary (C-grade, Carnegie-Caulfield CC).
D-grade finished at the end of their first lap with a three-up sprint. Darren Webb (Port Adelaide CC) got the win by a metre or two, followed closely by Ben Dickson (Norwood CC) in second and Craig Beddome (Kilkenny CC) in third.
C-grade came down to two riders who had gotten clear of the bunch, with Brendan Cleary (Carnegie Caulfield CC) winning by a few bike lengths over TT-specialist Darren Searle (Port Adelaide CC). Nicholas Welch (Port Adelaide CC) rounded off the podium in third.
The finish for B-grade came down to a bunch sprint, with David Cullen (Norwood CC) taking the win (and the hat-trick of the KOM, prime and overall victory) closely over Tom DeGaris (Norwood CC) in second and Ian Maxwell (Port Adelaide CC) in third.
In A-grade, a two-man breakaway of Karl Evans (Norwood CC) and Ben Cheney (Port Adelaide CC) got away on the first lap and managed to stay away for the remainder of the race, with Evans getting clear in the final kilometres for the win, Cheney finishing in second, and Lucien Keene (Norwood CC) coming in by himself for third place.
Thank you to all of the volunteers and commissaires who assisted with the race - we could not do this without you. Also thanks to Gawler-Barossa ACRM for their expert traffic control, Denis and Graham from Sports Trainer Services and the Barossa council. (Of special note is commissaire Mark Ferguson who managed to pick up a frightened runaway dog in the midst of the lightning storm and return it to its owners in between the two races!)
Check out the fantastic photo albums below:
Tina Jones Photography (214 photos, including podium shots): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.380481315445374.1073741948.172409746252533&type=3
Full results can be downloaded here.