A LARGE turnout of 21 riders greeted the starter for a 20km handicap race along Caves Road as part of the Mount Gambier Cycling Club’s summer series.
First to leave were Jami Buckley – fresh from his victory in the junior race – Louise Abraham and Jason Buckland.
They were given a generous seven minute gap to the next group and set about working together to try and make the most of their advantage.
The second group to leave consisted of Jen Buckland, Spek Peake and Michael Dethmore, with the larger groups still to come.
After 11 minutes had passed, Mike Bakker, Dave Delaland, Riley Hill and Harry Opperman were given the task of chasing down the earlier riders and a further minute later Bruce MacLaughlin, Naomi Feder, Paul Brooker, Phil Stasiw and John Cranwell set off in pursuit.
With 13 minutes already on the clock, Niel van Niekirk and Malcolm Tirabassi were allowed to begin the chase and after waiting 15 minutes from the start of the race, the scratch riders of Matthew Opperman, Rob Mann, Dave Bryant and Nick Kidman began their pursuit.
At the turnaround mark, Abraham, Buckley and Jason Buckland were still making use of their advantage, working well together to maintain healthy gaps to the chasing groups.
Peake, Jen Buckland and Dethmore were next to turn, still with about four minutes to make up to catch the leaders.
A large group was chasing behind, made up of the two main middle groups, still about 3km behind the leaders.
Approximately 500m further back the final two groups had joined and were methodically working to decrease the advantage further.
A slight tailwind after the turnaround saw some of the groups pile on the pace and some riders were not able to hold on.
Buckley and Abraham stuck to their task and were able to hold off the chasing packs until the finish line, with the former taking out his second win for the morning in a time of 41:55, while Buckley held on for second (43:16).
The scratch riders had caught and passed all others, passing Jason Buckland before the top of the final rise.
As they passed the crest, the sprint for the final spot on the podium began in earnest. Matthew Opperman held off the rest of the riders to claim fastest time honours (28:49) and third position for the race, closely followed once again by Bryant, with van Niekirk, Kidman, Mann and Tirabassi arriving close behind.
The next group to finish in a sprint was Hill, followed by Harry Opperman and Stasiw.
Jason Buckland finished close behind in 13th place, then MacLaughlin, Brooker, Peake, Cranwell, Bakker, Feder, Dethmore, Jen Buckland and Delaland.
Prior to the seniors, a junior race was held, with six young riders ranging in age from nine up to 13 greeting the starter for their 10km handicap race.
Kira Harpham, Emma van Niekirk and Eddie Buckland were first to leave, followed by Molly Opperman after a three minute gap.
Opperman had been penalised a minute after her race win the previous week and had only two minutes between her, Jami Buckley and Elmer Buckland chasing from the rear.
At the turnaround mark, Eddie Buckland was out in front, with Opperman catching Harpham.
Buckley and Elmer Buckland were still chasing close behind.
Van Niekirk had turned earlier, still building her confidence in racing and as the riders crested the final hill, Eddie Buckland was still in front, but the instructions to charge could be heard in the background.
With less than 300m to the finish, Eddie Buckland was swamped by Buckley, who went on to win and take fastest time (24:02 elapsed – 19:02 ride time).
Elmer Buckland sat up a little, as if considering letting his little brother finish in front of him but his competitive instincts got the better of him and he flashed across the line to finish second, relegating Eddie to third place.
Opperman finished in fourth place, followed by Harpham, who had made a welcome return to racing.
This week’s race will have some different views as it will be held over a 25km distance along Attamurra/Mingbool Roads, beginning at 9:30am