Shirley Takes Out a Nail-Biter
Fyans Creek 46km Course
Sunday 15th April 2012
In a nail-biting finish, limit rider Shirley Hetherington just held off the chasing pack to take out the Grampians Vets 46 kilometre handicap, held last Sunday.
As the lone limit rider, Hetherington set off from the Fyans Creek Road start (near Halls Gap) with a 23 minute lead over scratch. Helped by the almost calm conditions, she made good time out to the mid race turn on the Sandbar Road. However, behind her the 16 minute riders Meg Parnaby and Peter Mayo had cut her lead from seven minutes to 3 minutes 10 seconds, and looked to be on schedule to catch her on the return journey.
Further back the six minute riders Daryl Elliott, Drew Heard, Laura White and John Hunt were also ahead of schedule at the turn, as were the two minute riders, Shaun Blackie, Crystal Wemyss, Rod Hetherington and Geoff Richards.
Scratch riders Peter Wemyss, Jason Shipcott and Sean Prins set off hard, and had made up 50 seconds on the two minute riders at the half way mark, but then failed to make up any more time on the return journey.
Led by an in-form Shaun Blackie, the two minute riders kept up a relentless pace and finally caught the six minute riders with seven kilometres to go. Another 3 kilometres up the road, they overtook the 16 minute riders Parnaby and Mayo, but Shirley Hetherington was still well up the road.
Making the most of a slight tail wind, and having seemed to find a second wind herself, Hetherington was putting up a valiant solo effort. With one kilometre to go, she still led by about 250 metres, but the pack was closing fast. With 300 metres to go, John Hunt flew off the front of the pack in a bid to bridge the gap, but Hetherington dug in and just hung on to win by a bike length from Hunt, with Geoff Richards third.
The scratch riders were about a minute behind, with Jason Shipcott charging to the line to take out fastest race time of one hour, ten minutes and 44 seconds, an average speed of 39kph.