A beautiful morning at Heffron Park for the final round of the Battle of the Bridge series for 2017. Heading into the round the leaderboard looked as follows:
Northern Sydney were well placed to retain the title they won last year. With only six points the difference, SUVelo was the only real threat to Northern Sydney’s chances. One of these clubs would be crowned champion and take home the illustrious Battle of the Bridge trophy:
Given the points gap to third, it would be extremely difficult for the other clubs to really have a shot at top spot. All their racing would be for pride.
The racing started with the Women’s and Men’s C grade races. SUVelo opened up their account with a 1-2 finish from Georgia Whitehouse and Lisa Antill. Randwick Botany’s Sue Henry rounded out the podium. With a big haul of points for SUVelo and NSCC denied any, a real fight for the title was guaranteed.
The sold out C grade race was hotly contested and unfortunately not without incident. A nasty tumble just before the end saw Randwick Botany rider Declan Jones injured. We wish Declan a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him racing as soon as possible.
In what would prove to be the recurring theme of the morning, SUVelo claimed first place thanks to a strong ride from Brendan Hancox. Easts finally secured a podium finish this series with Daniel Corbett in second. Minh Dinh took third to add just one point to NSCC’s tally.
SUVelo by now was the provisional leader in the series. But with the lead so small, meaningful results in either the A or B grade races could see the series win go either way.
The B grade race saw a series of attacks to tire out the bunch. For the most part though the bunch stayed together until the final lap. Mitch Dixon from Manly Warringah opened up the sprint early and looked like he had the result in hand. A late move by Andy Matthews though produced one of the closer finishes we’ve seen at Heffron in a while. Photos and video were reviewed by the commissaire and other interested parties, with Andy Matthews declared the winner. His bike throw was timed perfectly to inch out Mitch for first place. Jason Douglas from RBCC finished third.
A smaller than usual A grade (several regulars were at the NRS Tour of the Great South Coast) was blown apart very quickly, ultimately seeing the grade split across three or four bunches around the circuit. Tacks on the circuit just after the first bend unfortunately ended a couple of riders’ racing too early but otherwise it became clear that the lead group would produce the place getters. Importantly for the series win, three SUVelo riders but only one NSCC rider – Angus Calder – made the selection.
The lead group worked together well for the first half of the race to establish the gap. From here on though, SUVelo’s numerical advantage would be exploited to maximum effect. Moosh Brown did the hard yards and softened up the competition, pushing ahead of the group. Nathan Bonarius and Ben Wray wouldn’t chase him, forcing the others to keep bringing him back.
To finish Ben opened up a long sprint with Nate coming around his wheel to win by a clear margin. Ben finished second with Easts’ John Peppard close behind. Angus missed out on a podium finish, denying NSCC any points in the race.
Four grades. Four SUVelo firsts. With this dominant performance SUVelo proved itself worthy winners of the Battle of the Bridge series for 2017. Northern Sydney’s Archie Wilson presented the trophy to SUVelo Club Captain Stuart Hamilton and Alexis Kaless wrapped up the series.
Congratulations and thanks to all the riders of all clubs who participated in and supported the series. No racing happens magically, so hats off to the commissaires, marshalls and other volunteers who organised and managed the races. Thanks for a fun and exciting Battle of the Bridge for 2017. We look forward to defending the title next year.