Last Saturday saw the running of Bike Manawatu’s equivalent of Paris-Roubaix, the Essex Cup around the Pohangina Valley loop. The course goes straight up the Valley to Pohangina Village and out the other side on the unsealed Pohangina Valley West Rd. After turning right at Churchill Drive, the race then turns right onto Pohangian Valley East Rd and then back to Ashhurst.
A relatively small, but hardened group of riders turned up to taste some dirt and enjoy a dry and fairly windless race.
Two riders, Tamara Ross (Wanganui) and Thomas Stannard, started off ‘limit’ being given a 14 min start on the next bunch of three riders, Katherine Stannard, Toshi Yamauchi, and Michaela Walker (Wanganui). Another 12 minutes back was the largest bunch on ‘block’ containing Ross and Jordan Castle, Jake van Lienen, Cody Simpson, and Ross Rainham. Last to start, off ‘scratch’ were Paddy Daly and Steve Stannard, another two minutes back.
Some hard riding saw scratch catch most of the larger block and second bunches before Highland Home. However, Jordan and Jake worked hard to stay in front until halfway long the Valley East Rd. At that point, Thomas was still in front having ridden much of the course on his own after Tamara punctured, but was “gobbled up” just before the left hand turn near the bottom of Valley Rd. An attack by Jordan and Jake left Ross, Steve and Thomas back down the Rd and an U19 mens sprint for the Essex Cup victory seemed assured.
Nothing is ever certain in bike racing though… Jordan did win the sprint from Jake, but in crossing the white centre line in front of the finishing judges during their battle, both were disqualified. Meanwhile, Thomas Stannard attacked Steve and Ross near the finish line, and because the front two were disqualified, won the Essex Cup for 2013 !
Thanks to Glenys and the other helpers who made the race a worthwhile and enjoyable event.