2nd place Avanti Classic finisher Adrian Booth (above in green) has been kind enough to submit this race report:
A fantastic day greeted over 200 hundred riders from South East Queensland for the 2007 edition of the Avanti Classic. An 80km handicap held in and around Wivenhoe Dam, this event takes in some beautiful scenery and is fiercely contested by all who participate. Hosted by the Lifecycle club, Blair Stockwell has made this race an institution on the CQ racing calendar since Chris Locke won the inaugural event in 2002.
18 groups took to the start line, blessed by a beautiful South East Queensland day. A light breeze was blowing and questions were raised as to whether Tony Mann’s race record of 1:48:23 would be broken. A total of $4500 was in the prize pool with a $250 offer to the fastest rider. A further $100 bonus was on offer if this time was to eclipse the current record of Mann. The winner would pocket $1000.
The race was held over 2 laps of a 40km course with riders heading out in groups of 10-15 at intervals determined through a handicapping system. Starting just outside the Lowood town centre, riders headed along an undulating first 5km. High speed would then follow with a slight downhill toward the second turn that took riders to the Wivenhoe Dam wall. Approaching the Dam, a short climb disrupted the rhythm of the groups who were working hard to stay away from the scratch riders starting some 31 minutes in arrears. Over the Dam wall, which is slightly uphill, the groups then began a long slow drag up to the top of the catchments’ lines. This was quite difficult at speed and whilst it only starts at 3% it gradually makes its way to 8% by the top. From this point it was full gas down hill until the third turn which put riders back on the 7km to the finish line, a stretch made harder by some sharp rises and a dose of cross winds.
With the many volunteer motorcyclists and Chief Commissaire Greg Vincent, policing all the groups on the open course the racing was fantastic. After a lap the small starting bunches had come together with the formation of 3 main groups. 60 had settled in the front 2 groups but hot on their heals were the gun scratch riders who now had a pack of 10 working to catch the early starters.
Climbing over the Dam wall for the second time the scratch bunch caught the first group of 60 or so riders. Scratch riders at this point were Grant Irwin, Darcy Rosenlund, Chris Pryor, Jack Anderson, Stuart Cowin, Gilbert Gutowski, David Betts, Adrian Booth, Mark Ledgerwood and Steven George. The scratch bunch maintained its high rhythm with riders from the forward bunch joining in the pace line. The rises out of the dam did dispense of about 20 riders however the job at hand was to reel in the last group on the road who held 1:30 gap.
The last bunch was soon reeled in, and at 7km from the finish it was everyone together. Immediately Jack Anderson (Ord Minnett) launched an attack with Adrian Booth (Merida) on his wheel. Another rider bridged across and the trio maintained their lead for a couple of k’s. It was all or nothing now with riders looking for the $1000 cash prize for 1st place as well as the fastest time at an extra $250. Looking at the clock and with only 5km to go, the time read 1 hour: 38 minutes. The race record would surely be going today. The pace was kept high and the group was splintering with stronger cross winds and the $100 cash bonus for the record making it for riders to hnag on.
Ord Minnett did their best to launch riders as often as possible, with their team having 12 riders in the group, but it was Flight Centre, Merida and Velo who kept them honest and the bunch was together coming into the last 2km. The finish was a tricky affair with a slight down hill that had an off camber left hand jag 300m from the end. As expected, Ord Minnett lined up for the last kilometer with Darcy Rosenlund pulling 60km/h on the approach assisted by Gutowski- both of which were hoping to launch their sprinter in Grant Irwin. Behind them Adrian Booth (Merida), Steven George (Velo), Mark Ledgerwood (2XU) were all looking to steal the day and the money.
The finish was extremely hard fought with a group of about 50 coming into the final straight hungry for some money. Around the left hand jag and pointed straight at the finish line, Irwin, Booth and George all took off for the line. At 100m to go it was a dual between Booth (Merida) and Irwin (Ord Minnett) as George (Velo) had caught too much wind and faded slightly. The approach to the line was a close affair as Irwin, checking over his right shoulder failed to realize Booth on his left was fast coming at him. Only able to approach his front wheel, Booth’s hopes were dashed as Irwin switched the gas back on to take line honors in a closely fought affair. Steven George would fill 3rd position. The race record was smashed by over 3 minutes with a time of 1 Hour: 45 minutes.
A fantastic day was had by all and riders happily swapped stories of the day over a drink and post presentation. Special thanks to Blair Stockwell of Lifecycle, CQ commissaries and the volunteers of the SES, without them the race would never have come to be. Thanks also to all competitors for ensuring a great and safe cycle race.
By Adrian Booth
Avanti Classic 80km
1st Grant Irwin (Ord Minnett) 1:45
2nd Adrian Booth (Merida) s.t
3rd Steven George (Velo) s.t
4th Mark Ledgerwood (2XU) s.t