Wind adds to challenge at Tarpeena

TOUGH TASK: The group of Jen Buckland, Harry Opperman, Elmer Buckland, Damian Buckley and Jason Buckland work hard together to combat the strong wind.

WITH the weather forecast to be cold and wet with a strong wind blowing, the decision was made early to allow the Mount Gambier Cycling Club junior racers a weekend off from competition.

However, 15 hardy racers made the trek out to McEnroe Roa at Tarpeena for the 20km handicap race.

A strong westerly breeze would allow for a tailwind at the start, but without any corners to break up the wind, it was going to be a hard slog back towards the finish line.

Despite early hail just before the race, the weather cleared up in time for Elmer Buckland and Jason Buckland to begin their race, followed two minutes later by Damian Buckley, Jen Buckland and Harry Opperman.

The early runners were given a larger gap over the chasing groups, with a further six minutes on the clock before Dean Zeven, Spek Peake and Patrick Langsmith began their chase.

They were followed two minutes later by Niel van Niekirk, Jami Buckley, Matt Fiegert and Bruce McLaughlin, with Matthew Opperman and Ash Herrewyn taking up the chase a further two minutes back.

The final racer to leave, 30 seconds later, was Nick Kidman, giving the front markers over 12 minute’s head start.

Enjoying the tailwind for the first part of the race, speeds were high as each group set about the task of chasing down the groups ahead.

They worked well together until the turnaround point, when the change in wind direction put some riders well into the hurt box.

The first two groups came together with about nine kilometres to to race and Elmer Buckland managed to hold on to the faster wheels as they came by.

The bunches further back were still working hard together to peg back the margin, but the riders at the front were too strong.

In the final kilometers Harry Opperman and Elmer Buckland were able to push ahead of Jen Buckland and Damian Buckley.

Elmer Buckland claimed his maiden senior victory ahead of Harry Opperman, in a time of 43:23.

They were followed 20 seconds later by Jen Buckland and Damian Buckley, then Spek Peake and Dean Zeven a further 1:20 behind.

Matthew Opperman claimed fastest time.