HE'S crashed on dirt roads, he's punctured on dirt roads but Craig Hutton is also a rider who knows how to win on dirt roads.
On Saturday Hutton further confirmed his status as the most successful rider in the 11-year history of the Bathurst Cycling Club's Hurt on the Dirt race as he took the honours for the fourth time.
He held off Simon Hickey in a close finish, showing his bike handling skills on the tricky Guestingthorpe Loop part of the 52 kilometre race.
"It took me by surprise that I'd won it that many times," Hutton said.
"It's something different and something you don't really get in other places around Australia. It really puts that connection back into Europe and with Mark [Renshaw] winning the race this is named after - the Tro Bro Leon - it's great to have that connection back to him.
"In terms of club racing this is one of the most prestigious ones and it is one that I like to do well in. I've had a lot of bad luck over the years with punctures and crashes because of the difficulties that the dirt does throw up, it's a different style of race.
"But for me, coming from my mountain bike background and racing over in Europe on bad roads, it's something I really like to get stuck into."
Getting stuck in is something Hutton has done plenty of times in the Hurt on the Dirt, having previously won the A grade event in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Though there were loose stones, washouts and corrugations on Saturday, Hutton relished the challenge.
"A lot of people were a bit worried how the road fared after the rain and there was a few washouts, but I think that just adds to the beauty of the race really. It changed the whole way you could attack the different sectors, you had to really think about your wheel placement and lines on the road, you couldn't just go flat out on it," he said.
"It wasn't too bad, there were a few areas that you had to bunny-hop over, but the guys that do have a bit more bike handling skills really thrived across all four grades."
This it was young talent Cadel Lovett who was the early aggressor as he attacked on the first climb and Hickey followed. Hutton knew he had to react.
"I saw the gap start to open so I managed to ride across to them on the hill and stick together for a couple of laps. We noticed the other guys couldn't keep up, couldn't come back, so we kept attacking the dirt sectors with a bit of a push and tried to weaken everyone's legs," he said.
"It came down to just Simon and myself on the last lap, it came down to the sprint and was down to the wire and I was able to get it."
Nick Barrett joined that pair on the podium with Mark Windsor and Lovett rounding out the top five ahead of Jack Cannon and Stuart Renshaw.
In B grade the honours went to Steve Bennett ahead of Ray Thorn and David Reece, while Blue Mountains rider Phillip Stapleton took C grade win and shared the podium with Damien Bennett and Rod Esdaile.
The D grade victory belonged to Kevin Bell, with Lachlan Crump and David Hyland rounding out the top three.
Charlotte Lovett was the fastest female.
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