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By Peter Winton, Mildura-Coomealla Cycling Club
Twelve riders from the Mildura-Coomealla club ventured across the border on Saturday, to compete in the 28th running of the Tour of the Riverland, a 90km handicap road race conducted by the Norwood Cycling Club. A consolation handicap on the Sunday of 37kms as well as A and B grade criteriums also are features of the richest cycling event in South Australia.
In all 157 riders took to the roads around Berri, Loxton and Renmark.
With a generous handicap of 26 minutes (limit) Arthur Anderson, Peter Winton and Robert Knudsen had enviable opportunity to have a serious crack at the prizemoney on offer. Anderson, in usual style, was reluctant to hold back at any stage and in fact the limit mark is more a hindrance than a benefit to him with most other riders not up to his capacity to work hard.
Knudsen took a chance at an early KOM and sprint but was unsuccessful both times. Meanwhile the sharp climb up Bookpurnong Hill had extracted Harry Robbins from his place in the 2nd limit bunch along with David Priest. With the likes of Peter Mills setting the pace in this group it was more akin to "chopping block" pace at a club event however, the wily Kevin Gregory, at 59 years of age, was able to maintain his rhythm and keep in the chase pack.
Meanwhile Michael Shipsides, Jack Lokan and Barry Pollock were in serious chase mode but not without a chance providing their respective bunches could combine. Rob McNally and Adam Wightwick had hard roads to hoe back in the 9 minute bunch, but when youÕre in A grade you get A grade handicaps!
Peter Winton was first to claim an intermediate prize being a sprint on the return leg from Loxton. Peter Mills also was first over the line at every KOM on offer. With the limit bunch being rounded up by the Mills group a whisker short of the Paringa bridge the stage was being set. A hillclimb and sprint in front of the Paringa Hotel was text book stuff for Mills yet again. However, a marshalling faux pas saw more than 20 riders make a wrong turn. Reports had it that back markers travelled 2 kms extra in the fiasco.
Mildura riders were well in mix and after the climb back up Culperam hill with 8kms to go, Mills, Anderson, Lokan and Gregory with Knudsen perfecting the "sitting-on" role all had a chance of "bringing home the bacon".
In the end Kevin Gregory (4th) showed the better judgement of the Mildura contingent over Knudsen (5th) and the relentless Mills (9th).
On the Sunday, Knudsen was sent out off limit at 10 minutes with Anderson, Robbins and Winton enjoying an 8 minute mark. The listed 15 rider bunch at 6m:30s containing Lokan and Pollock was carpeted at the start with only 5 fronting. This left the front 2 groups virtually alone to thrash out the race. Shipsides back at 4 minutes and McNally off scratch had to be content with riding for fastest times.
Winton took advantage of an Anderson surge at approx the 1 km mark and dashed away (he doesnÕt know why!). His move failed to drag any riders with him and he was caught by the peleton with 100 metres to go. Knudsen, in cotton wool all race again, suddenly found himself in contention and held onto a 5th placing with Robbins streaking through the pack, after riding well in the 2nd limit bunch , for a 9th spot and grab at the money. Rob McNally picked up the 2nd fastest time after being pipped by Riverland sprint specialist John Danvers. The Lokan and Pollock bunch only falling short by one minute. Norwood riders took the major places with the winner being Ryan Pannowich.
This week sees the club conduct a 50km graded scratch starting from (outside) the Werrimull Hotel at 1:30pm sharp.
Tour of the Riverland 1 Trevor Skinner 2 Peter Rowe 3 Richard Markowski 4 Kevin Gregory 5 Robert Knudsen
Australian results from the past week