Adelaide University Cycling Club’s Mens Category 2 team set off for the ‘hell of the north’ with a KOM Coffee in hand. The first mechanical occurred before the team had even arrived at Wallaroo when Thomas Wilson left teammate Henry Sanders’ new quick link behind in Adelaide. Luckily, former AUCC rider, Lachlan McRae, saved the day and a crisis was averted.
The race kicked off with a welcome tail wind and a good pace out to the first U-turn, before Mischa Batelaan became the first casualty with a pinch flat on an unwelcome pothole. The pace dialed up immediately after the U-turn, splintering the bunch on the way back to the Spencer Highway. The team, now down to six riders, carried on in the bunch and refueled prior to the first gravel section.
The gravel arrived along with another surge and a minefield of bidons. Hands were rising left, right and center within the bunch before Angus Dickson became the third AUCC rider falling from the bunch with a mechanical. The team carried on before Thomas decided to have a lie down on the gravel with less than 50 m to go before the bitumen returned.
Back on the black top, the team powered on in the bunch onward to the second gravel section. No sooner had the gravel arrived, the team had their fifth casualty with Patrick Shanahan suffering a pinch flat. Left in the bunch remained Henry, Jacob Minor and Lachlan Ryan.
The last section of bitumen arrived with no rider up the road; the finish would be a bunch sprint. The bunch moved on with haste in the final kilometer before Henry Sanders threw down his sprint to secure a podium finish. All AUCC team members crossed the line with jubilant smiles (notably that of Lachlan Ryan’s), thankful for having completed the ‘hell of the north’. However, the biggest smile came during the presentations when it became apparent that the team had secured the leader’s jersey, with Henry leading the Cat 2 GC.
The team set off for Moonta the next morning for what everyone know would be crit with a lot of heat (for what turned out to be both metaphorically and physically). The pace was on from the start, with the team of five riders digging in to hold the early surges. The speed had only just begun to simmer before the first sprint lap was called, dialing the heat straight back up. Patrick was quick to respond, surging forward to secure additional points in the sprint classification.
The notorious spoon drain created a technical circuit, with tired legs from the endless gravel potholes of yesterday’s race, cringing with every encounter. This proved too much for several riders in the bunch, including both Peter Branson and Thomas Wilson, despite Thomas being significantly lighter after leaving skin out north of Wallaroo.
The remaining three riders continued, with both Patrick and Mischa having snaps off the front. Henry remained in a comfortable position before being swamped in the closing laps of the race, while Patrick secured GC points for the round finishing 6th in the bunch. Unfortunately, the day wasn’t to be had with leaders slipping away in what is turning out to be a hotly contested competition.
The weekend’s racing was enjoyed by all, with many laughs and good times had. All eyes are now firmly focused on the upcoming race at The Bend, with the leaders jersey within grasp.