Firstly, apologies for not getting this up earlier, but it was something about a 9 hour drive home that nipped it in the bud.
To the race, and it was cool and overcast for the start, with people tossing up what clothing to wear, before coming to the realisation that it was a race and a jersey/air tickets were on the line. With the gun firing at the crack of midday, the race was on, and Johnny C went straight to the front... The pace was ferocious for the first 6 or so, before the race plans started to fire up, and the early strategies started to play out. The pit arrangement wasn't the greatest in my opinion, and with 3 (all downhill) lanes to chose from, there was some tense moment as some riders shot through, some skidded wildly to a halt and left their bikes all over the track and the clever ones sailed straight through the supposedly 'slow' pit lane to get food and water every second lap. I say supposedly because it looked longer, the entry and exit looked more techical (through a gate) but in reality the time was negligible, and the advantage was enormous.
Fenner(specialized/total rush), Dan Mackay(onyabike?), Troy Bailey (BMC/KaosCustomBikes), Jason English (BMC/Gordon StCycles) and and Claxton (Giant) all circulated within a few minutes of each other, with JAson and John being standouts, lifting whenever anyone got too close yet still riding within themselves. Some racers continued to look after themselves through teh first 6 hours, whilst others found themselves punching outside their weight range and neglected things like eating and drinking, and put themselves in a large hole.
In the womens', Katerin V.D.Spiegel lapped in formidable pace, and just kept going. A slick pit operation was helpful, with not a second wasted to reach her goal. Alex tried her best but was just having a rubbish day to start out, thankfully starting to come good later in the race, but a cranky back was hindering her progress.
Come night time, John Claxton cracked the taps to see what would happen, and built up a lead. Looking frighteningly strong, he set about lapping the field as dark fell. Not one to panic, Jason merely bided his time, and watched proceedings unfold, whilst still lapping very quickly yet not smashing himself.
Lapping the field up to 3rd place was completed sometime during the middle of the night, and the counter attacks started. See sawing anywhere up to 8 minutes, Jason English (who battles for the title of gentleman racer with Andy Bell) tipped the balace back in his favour a few times, gaining the lead and then John would swing it back, all within a frame of around 15 minutes. This was straight up riding, not sitting in the pits either! Both boys were flying, with Dan playing quiet achiever and gettin 'er done back there in 3rd, whilst troy and Mark Fenner battled their early enthusiasm.
About 4am saw Troy having enough, the first 10 hours of racing 10/10ths on gu and not much else took its toll, and with blurry vision from dehydration and fatigue, he took his leave around dawn. Fenner sucked down a pizza a touch earlier, and managed to stave off the problems, and was able to keep it together to the finish line, but the race was at the front. Crashes, a see sawing lead, and the ability to lift by nearly 5 minutes to close, pass and extend a gap saw favour swing to Jason, and in the closing 4 or so hours, the fight slowly seemed to ebb from John.
Beaten by a stronger man, it was a entertaining, honest battle out there on course to see who could hold it together the longest and with about 450km on the clock, it was all over with English getting the jersey, and Johnny a valiant 2nd place from Dan.