TEAM Baiocchi JT Fossey Cycling’s Ray Griffin almost won his first NSW State Open Division 2 road race in 34 years on the weekend.
Griffin was beaten by a bike length in the 99km Kurrajong Classic in the foothills of the Blue Mountains on Sunday.
In a move which was launched at the 55km mark, chasing with two other riders, Griffin made his away across to a three-man breakaway which was about 45 seconds in front of the peleton.
“Initially, a Canberra rider rolled off the front and he got out to about a minute at one point,” Griffin said.
“Then a rider from Manly and one from Lidcombe went out after him.
“I went after them with another Sydney rider but he didn’t have the legs to stay with me in the chase and then two guys got across to me from the peleton and we pushed on toward the front.”
With 33km to go, Griffin’s trio was 20secs off the leading trio of riders from Canberra, Melbourne and Lidcombe with the peleton around 45secs in arrears.
Griffin’s group managed to cut the deficit to the leading three on a high-speed descent on the Putty Road.
“It was pretty much all or nothing – we had to gain ground on them on the descent because a 2km climb followed the descent and this was to be the third time over it,” he said.
“We caught the front of the race just after the descent as the climb started.”
One of the six leaders lost contact on the climb and the breakaway was down to five with around 30 riders left in the peleton. Over the climb and less than 30km to go and the leading five settled into extending their lead over the peleton.
The remainder of the course was rolling small hills punctuated with short sharp pinches.
“Once we grouped at the front, as a breakaway, we worked extremely well,” Griffin said.
“There were no passengers – we all shared the work which was a nice change to what sometimes happens in a race.”
The five remained intact until the approach to the finish when, just after the 500m to go sign, Manly’s Richard Borkmann led out the sprint with Griffin tucked in behind.
“Richard went early and I was in the perfect position on his wheel – I thought I had good enough legs to get past him over that sprint distance but I just wasn’t strong enough to get around him.”
Borkmann won from Griffin with Edward Parker (Lidcombe) third in a time of 2hrs 33mins 12secs. They finished more than two and half minutes ahead of the peleton.
Team Baiocchi JT Fossey’s other rider, Darren Traill, lost contact with the peleton at the halfway mark while teammate Mick Sherwood raced in the NSW State Under 23 Championship 165 km race on the same course.
Sherwood was held up assisting several riders who fell in front of him at half distance and wasn’t able to regain the peleton.
He is also continuing his recovery from lost racing and training due to a broken elbow incurred in the Tour of Tahiti in July, with the Newcastle-based Paradice National Road Series team.
Team Baiocchi Griffin JT Fossey now begins its final preparations for the NSW and Australian Masters Road Cycling Championships to be held in Griffith and Ballarat from the end of September.