18th February 2017
See Pictures here
With roadworks continuing just before Arthur’s Pass, a new race was launched in place of the Main Divide. Starting in Kirwee, The Porters Purgatory course offered up a bit for everyone; the sprinters were given 47.5 kms to try and nail the climbers, while the climbers would get their chance with a 300 m climb in the final 2.5 kms of the race.
Despite the light rain in Christchurch, we were assured by Derrick that the weather was good at Porters Pass, and it was great to see 65 riders come out to take part in the races.
We cannot run these events without Derrick, marshalls, follow cars, and guys helping behind the scenes so a huge thank you to everyone involved and in particular Sue and Derrick Nelson, Janeen Jones, Andrew Jones, Natalie Williams-Gillies, Craig Taylor, Ron Pithie, Robin Mills, Susan Butler Davies and Graham Batchelor. Chapeau!
A Grade: 1) Ian Talbot 2) Campbell Pithie 3) OIllie Jones
B Grade: 1) Abe O’Donnell 2) Sam Medlicott 3) Chris Andrews
C Grade: 1) Oliver Batchelor 2) Gary Ferguson 3) Benjamin Carrell
D Grade: 1) Sharon Prutton
E Grade: 1) Wendy Gallagher
Fastest Lady: Jeannie Blakemore (B-Grade)
By Mark Stringer
Being only a week from the first Elite Series race, it was great to see a number of different teams represented in the peloton and none with an unbalanced advantage. An early break with Max Beckert, Joe Hutchinson and later Bailey O’Donnell were allowed some freedom out front, with the chase from behind being largely uncoordinated and most riders content to sit and watch out for attack from the hitters. Rolling through Springfield, the attacks started coming and the gap out front started to tumble, with the breakaway riders being mopped up with about 10 kms to go.
Sam Horgan led the field up the climb with the pack splitting almost immediately and shortly after a select group with Sam Horgan, Ollie Jones, Campbell Pithie, Ian Talbot and Scott Thomas emerged as the contenders for line honours. In the final attacks, Ian (Joyride) managed to break free of Campbell (Moore Stephen Markhams), to take line honours, with Ollie (PKF) not far behind.
By Chris Andrews
Seldom do you get the chance in racing where things fall in line just how you planned it - but today felt like a great day for me - eventually picking up 3rd in b-grade on top of Porters Pass. With 6 Armitage Williams riders in the bunch prepping for next week’s Calder Stewart race, I had the advantage of being able to sit back and let the others spread the workload - and to be honest there were two super-stars of the 1st half of the race.
Darryl Queen burst out of Kirwee, pushing the bunch along all by himself at a cracking pace - eventually relinquishing the front of the pack around Darfield. From there Dave Lawson and a Mackley Protocol rider jumped off the front, and things settled down for the next 25 or so km. However Darryl kept things in check, sitting at the front of the bunch while Lawson built his lead. This break set things up for a bit of a team-orders finale, as Mackley riders Neil Sutherland and Blair Stuthridge had to be a couple of favourites to take out the race.
As we approached the final bend just prior to the base of Porters - Sutherland was the 1st to attack, sliding past Lawson to hit the front of the race. I grabbed his wheel, keeping an eye on the young duo of Sam Medlicott and Abe O'Donnell - who both seemed keen to set the pace up the hill.
Hitting the climb the 4 of us established a bit of a break pretty much immediately, the young lads went off the front once, only for Sutherland and myself to reign them back in in, however around half-way up the climb a 2nd attack stuck. Sutherland and I worked well setting a steady pace - it seemed like the young duo was within our reach, but I could hear Sutherland starting to suffer as the 2nd pinch around 800m from the summit neared. I decided the best course of action was just to keep plugging away, pulling past and away from Sutherland, Medlicott fell back from O'Donnell and as the summit got ever nearer I managed to pull closer and closer to that 2nd place. O'Donnell was over the top by himself, a well earned victory, but I just fell short of pulling back the young Medlicott - settling for 3rd, with Sutherland and then Stuthridge following.
Overall a fantastic race - a cool start in Kirwee, a cracking pace along the plains and into the hills where Porters made for an excellent finishing tussle - I'd love to see the Porters Pass Purgatory back again next season!