JAY Austin and Richard Hobson came close to division two success in one of Australia’s toughest one-day cycling events at the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic.
Bathurst’s Austin and Hobson finished fifth and sixth respectively in the gruelling 228 kilometre event.
The pair were joined by fellow Bathurst Cycling Club members Ryan O’Donnell (19th) and Stephen Dunstall (37th) to claim the division two teams prize (as D2F Bathurst).
Bathurst’s Daniel Went finished 33rd in the division three race.
Austin and Hobson made a mid-race move to try and catch a breakaway group, but it was to no avail.
“When the flag went down five guys jumped away from us. No-one was interested in chasing them at that stage, but their lead blew out. There were some guys in there who had finished in the top 20 before but no-one anticipated them getting out to the lead they did,” Austin said.
“Once the field got to the bottom of the Gibraltar Range they already had seven and a half minutes on us. By the time we got to the top there was a select group of 19 in the chasing bunch. Richard and myself were lucky enough to be a part of that group.”
Two of the five-rider leading group dropped back to the peloton but Cameron Judson, Tim Hoy and Reuben Phillips continued to ask questions of the chasers.
Austin and Hobson attempted to answer them towards Glen Innes.
“I rolled off the front, but I wasn’t even trying to gap the guys. No-one followed me so Richard put the hammer down to come across. Then Dan Alcock, last year’s winner, came across to us,” Austin said.
“The three of us quickly gapped the other 16 guys who were originally in our chase group. In the space of five to 10km we had already put a minute and a half on them.
“I thought we pretty much rode a perfect race. All it came down to was that we probably needed an extra person in our chase group.”
Judson won the race in the time of six hours, 29 minutes and 51 seconds. Hoy (+0:31) and Phillips (+0:32) battled for second.
Alcock (+2:54) got away from Austin (+4:45) and Hobson (+5:42) but couldn’t catch the leading trio.
There was a sprint battle in the division one National Road Series event, taken out by Neil Van Der Ploeg (5:46:26). Mudgee’s Ayden Toovey was third behind Matthew Ross.