Appleton realises potential

By Dan Richards


Duncan Appleton clocked up his best win as a senior rider when he won the time-honoured Sharrock Family Cup on Saturday.

Run over the traditional 80km course from Wanganui to Waverley with return, the handicapped race is one of the more prestigious and toughest events staged by Wanganui Cycling Club.

Appleton's win was all the more meritorious considering he started off the scratch mark and needed to ride through the field to claim the silverware.

In other results, Boaz Darby had a comfortable win for the Paddy O'Brien Memorial Cup the 36km race to Maxwell and return.

Darby had struck form immediately after stepping up to the B grade ranks for the first time on Saturday, following some good results in the C grade.

Meanwhile, C grade newcomer Sarah Lovelock-Newland did well to take out the 21km event.

In fine but very windy conditions, a field of 25 faced the starter at St Oswald's church for the Sharrock Cup main event.

Shaun Hogan and Curtis Weir were first away and the powerful pair worked well together into the strong headwind.

On the outward leg, they still had a 10-minute lead by the Waverley turnaround.

Chasing them was a seven rider bunch after a group of four led by Kerry Bennett and Garry Winchcombe picked up Laurika Hazlehurst, Dave Collins and Brian Scott several kilometres short of Waverley township.

Appleton was further back with his two co-markers on scratch, Brendon Sharratt and Matt Goode, having ridden the hills strongly to link up with the other two groups ahead of them.

This bigger new group formed prior to the turn the strength of the chasing riders helping them handle the headwind more effectively than those ahead.

Now with a tailwind and plenty of firepower, what had become the main peloton ramped up the pace as they headed back towards Wanganui.

In particular, Pat Johnstone took the speed up to 60km/h for several kilometres setting a pace which saw a number of the big bunch blown out.

Up front, Weir had slipped away from Hogan and still led the race until he was caught at the 60km mark by Clint Black, who had scooted clear off Bennett's group earlier on.

Black took over and led through Kai Iwi, but the hills were taking their toll.

Up the Goat Valley climb with about 7km to travel, Appleton appeared, accompanied by Sharratt, Johnstone, Goode, Phil Groves and Adrian Petit.

The lightly built Appleton chose his moment to attack, with Sharratt and Groves going with him, creating what turned out to be the winning gap by the top of the hill.

Sensing victory, the new front trio put the hammer down as they headed down State Highway 3 to the turn on to Blueskin Rd.

In the finishing straight on Western Line, the younger Appleton sprinted for a 1sec win over Groves, with Sharratt a further 4sec back.

There was a short gap back to the gallant Johnstone home in fourth spot, with Goode fifth and the ever-consistent Petit sixth.

Black was the best of the rest with a handy seventh placing.

Appleton's win saw him take time honours for the day as well.

The Bike-Shed sponsored rider has always shown talent and has steadily strengthened over the years.

Now out of junior ranks, he is poised to realise his potential particularly in hill-based races.

A small field of eight B-graders raced 36km to Maxwell and return to contest the Paddy O'Brien Memorial.

Darby made good use of his handicap to race clear of his opposition for a convincing 2min 26sec victory. It was a good effort from Darby, who handled the step up in distance and the rise in class with ease.

Literally locked together on the line, Simon Dempsey and Euan Irving took an equal share of second placing when the judges were unable to separate them at the finish.

Rob Manson, from further back in the handicap, was fourth with his effort earning him time honours for the day (1.08.04) by over 30sec from the race winner. Wayne McGrail came home in fifth and club president Stu Bruce rounded out the top six.

In the 21km C-grade race over three laps of the Western LineWestern Station Rd circuit, Lovelock-Newland slipped away from her opposition for an impressive 1min 21sec win over Paul Darby.

Dennis Squire did well to claim third, showing consistent form in this grade after a long break from the sport.

Barry Francis put in a good effort on race debut to nail down fourth.

Craig Bright was fifth and clocked the day's quickest time (31.41) while Jane Winchcombe and Kathleen Murphy shared sixth.

Results:

A grade, Sharrock Family Cup, Group Handicap: D Appleton (fastest time) 1, P Groves 2, B Sharratt 3.

B grade, Paddy O'Brien Memorial Cup, Group Handicap: B Darby 1, S Dempsey 2=, E Irving. Fastest time: R Manson, 1.12.26.

C grade Group Handicap: S Lovelock-Newland 1, P Darby 2, D Squire 3. Fastest time: C Bright, 31.41.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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