Howson the new King of Norton Summit!
11:29.42! That time is the new record that crowned Damien Howson (Lightsview) as the new King of Norton Summit after today's penultimate Round of the 2011/2012 Rendition Homes Cycling Series. For five years the record has stood at 11:50.0 by cycling superstar Jack Bobridge, but Howson brought his A-game with him today and now has the bragging rights.
Hundreds of people lined the route up the summit to watch the race, including local residents in deck chairs beneath the big gum trees on their properties and most notably, a huge turn out of Adelaide 'weekend warrior' cyclists. Under clear skies and bright sunshine, competitors had perfect racing conditions.
With a couple of late withdrawals due to illness, 61 of Adelaide's elite level competitors from 11 teams departed the start at 1-minute intervals from 10:16am sharp. Racing in almost reverse order of the current general classification rankings in the series, the yellow jersey leader of Brett Aitken (JT Cycles) had the honour of being last man away. In front of Aitken at 1-minute gaps were his challengers for the yellow jersey, with the notable exception of Russell Gill (Scouts SA-Super Elliott's) who was interstate today and could not race.
Howson was our tip to win in our preview of the race, but the rumour-mill had suggested earlier in the week that Tristan Jones (Scouts SA-Super Elliott's) had come within a handful of seconds of Bobridge's record time on a training run up the Summit. We decided to put our spies at key points along the route to get some time comparisons of Howson versus Jones, but this threw up some other names of riders who were serious threats for the win.
Ben Hogarth (Giant Cycling World Adelaide) didn't know it at the time but he was the race leader with a 12:27.4 when Howson departed the start gate at 11:08am. With our eyes on Howson he very quickly got into a rhythm and rarely changed gears unless he was hitting the steep pitches of the climb. Howson was in control of himself and his bike and looked fast. Our spy at the half-way mark noticed another rider's time that jumped out at him. Karl Evans (Bicycle Express-Dual Recruitment) had gone through the half-way mark 4 seconds faster than Howson. Game on. When Jones came through the check-point he was 30 seconds in arrears of Evans.
Howson was brilliant on the upper slopes of Norton Summit and with 1500m to go he upped the pace. With 1000m to go Howson had moved well in front of Evans and Hogarth. With 500m to go a combination of a trusty calculator and speed/distance/time science was telling us that Jack's record is about to be blown away and we were tipping an 11:35 to 11:40 if he could maintain his pace. Howson went faster and the Commissaires checked him in at 11:29.42 Howson knew he had done something special and thought he was around 11:30.0 (good guess Damo!). Hail the King of Norton Summit.
1 Howson 11:29.42
2 Evans 12:03.43
3 Hogarth 12:27.40
4 Tansley 12:30.92
5 Bayly 12:37.93
Full results to follow.
Our thanks to Wayne Fazzalari and Rendition Homes for their sponsorship of this great series and our partner sponsors Santos, Boral, Exact Mining Services, Champion System and SIS.
Cycling SA also thanks Chief Commissaire Mike Harnett and his team; volunteers from local clubs who helped as corner or traffic marshals; Viv and Steve and their medical team; Kevin from Chameleon Photography; Marie Hedley and Kylie Angsuthasawit and the huge crowd of local Adelaide cyclists who rode the Summit this morning and then stuck around to watch the race.
Special thanks to South Australia Police and the two very friendly officers who drove up and down the Summit looking after motorists and cyclists alike.