The Coombesberg - Thursday 19 November.

Thursday 19 November saw the Mansfield Mt Buller Cycling Club host one of its longest races of the season so far – the 29km Coombesberg Handicap. Starting at the Botanic Park, 15 riders headed out along the Whitfield Road to turnaround at Sawpit Gully Road, then turn left onto the Barwite Road, then finally turning right onto Old Tolmie Road and finishing on top of Coombes Hill – or the Coombesberg as the MMBCC have dubbed it.
Tony Morris started alone as the Limit group; 12 minutes ahead of the Scratch group. Two minutes later he was followed by Di Condie and Louise Hopwood; then came Belinda Cipa, Rod Manning and Craig Wilson off 8 minutes; John Eisner, Steve Flew, Allan Gerrans and David Bock started together off 6 minutes; at 2.45 was Dave Moore, Will MacDonald and Rob Skinner; and last to leave were Mauro Brega and Darren Bakker off Scratch.
With a strangely warm south-westerly blowing, the outward leg didn’t see any significant changes in ‘running’ order (apart from Skinner and Moore dropping MacDonald) until after Bridge Creek. But the climb up to Sawpit Gully Road saw groups two and three come together and form an impressive unit.
Group four finally started making some ground on the lead group on the way back towards Mansfield. In fact, by the Barwite Road intersection, only Cipa, Hopwood and Manning were still on the front ahead of Eisner, Bock, Gerrans and Flew.
Eisner and Gerrans started to struggle near the Old Tolmie Road intersection, so Bock and Flew went on ahead to catch the frontrunners. But the three leaders were cagey enough to ‘jump-on’ when the two faster riders came by, leaving five to fight out the final kilometre up the Coombesberg.
Cipa proved too strong, taking the sprint ahead of Hopwood with Manning running out of legs and finishing third (which might have been due to riding up Old Tolmie Road in the morning… what a way to warm up for a bike race!)
Next came Flew, Bock, Skinner, Gerrans, Eisner, Wilson and Bakker rounded out the top ten and claimed fastest time. Full results here.
Many thanks to our volunteer officials for the evening: Leonie, Jenni, Deb, Dave and Matt. Next week’s race is a Handicap on Howes Creek Road, starting at Lords Ground at 6pm. Entries via SMS to 0428 503 437 by 8pm Wednesday.