There was some seriously rapid track work at the TEC on Saturday with graded interclub criterium racing.
Armidale’s Mick Harris won a challenging A grade race, Tamworth’s Luke O’Connor took out B grade and James Harris won the three-ricer C grade race.
The B grade race averaged almost 39kph and with an early attack that almost split the field. It was left to Chris Stace to drag the bunch back together and a brief spell of calm followed.
Jason Simmonds and Clint Bourke were clearly having fun and Rob Tindale also had a strong ride as he launched a big mid-race hit up the hill.
Ultimately the bulk of the bunch stayed together and it came down to a big sprint for the line which O’Connor won by 10 bike lengths despite Bourke being well placed on his wheel at the top of the straight.
Bourke grabbed second and Carl Hooton pulled off a stunning effort for third place having come from the back of the pack half a lap earlier.
The A grade race resembled 20 rounds with Anthony Mundine with hard attacks being made virtually every lap on the hill.
Mick Harris and Inverell’s Dan Wilks in particular were hitting off the front repeatedly. After 15 minutes of this, the cracks started to appear and riders were slowly shelled out the back.
Some managed to dig deep and claw their way back into contention, such as Angus Apps who had a terrific ride.
Brent Rees and Zak Sunderland made sure the trip from Inverell wasn’t a wasted effort with some great hard riding.
Mick Hoult and Pete Harris put in strong rides as ever and Holly Harris demonstrated incredible form and determination to hang with the pack all the way to the end despite picking some suspect wheels to follow at times.
Ultimately, it came down to a sprint and Mick Harris hit the gas at the perfect moment to pull away from Rees to take the win by a couple of bike lengths.
The tussle for third was very close and Sunderland was awarded the petrol money by the race officials – a worthy outcome after some solid racing from the Inverell rider.
However, on closer inspection, it looks like Armidale’s David Cook’s Sangan-esque throw has just edged out Zak so kudos might just go to the young MTB rider who rode a fantastic race.