Black Barn Turns on Sun for Cyclocross Finale
It was a typical winters fine frosty morning today in the Hawkes Bay, rays of sunshine piercing clear skies, and lighting up rows of dormant vineyards, framed by snow capped mountains. Such was the backdrop for competitors as they descended on the Black Barn vineyards for the 4th and final race in the Cyclocross Hawkes Bay Black Barn Series 2017.
A bigger than usual turnout made for some highly competitive racing, and first to hit the course were the Arataki 7 and under future stars. Charlotte Mclaren led Eki de Jager after the first of 3 laps, but as she faded Domonic Arhur and Lance Hunt were able to push through to contest a close finish. In the end It was Arthur, from Hunt and De Jager in the boys race, with Mclaren, from Isabelle Thomson and Lara Nicoll in the girls.
The Freeman Decorating 10 and under race took of with a rush, and It was another Mclaren, this time big sister Anna that was able to get a great start and hold off Amy York and Amy Nicole, who had a great tussle for 2nd and 3rd. In the boys race, it was another competitive outing, Ben Gray and Elliot Blakely went head to head, while Lachie Leitch finished in 3rd place. There were however plenty of happy faces with the Whittakers chocolate bars awarded at the finish an ample reward. Rea Dunlop was so enamoured with it, that having finished the 7 and under race, he went on and knocked out 4 more laps in the 10 and under race as well for another piece. It is for chocolate lovers after all.
The winter sun had warmed up the temperature a bit by mid morning, and the racing was set to raise it a few degrees more with the start of the CX45 and CX30 races. Having dominate the series so far all eyes were on Gary Hall, but up from Palmerston North was Sam Gardner and he was prepared for a real battle this week. Hall fell behind early, but when after 4 laps he hit the front and tried to press on, it looked like the writing was on the wall for Gardner. He held on though, and one lap later when it came his turn to apply the blowtorch, Hall melted and Gardner was able to grow his lead with every subsequent lap.
The womens CX30 saw an early tussle with Rachael Nicholls and Laura Bickers, before Nicholls used some excellent running skills to pull away and was well clear by the finish. Delwyn Goldsborough hung on for 3rd.
The mens race was wide open with the series having been dominated by an absent Brendon Pheasant so far. Youngster Jono Williams took off like a scalded cat from the start-line and the hounds never saw him again. It was Williams in the end from Kevin Harvey who just edged Ben Goldsborough in a sprint for second and third.
Post race competitors and spectators alike enjoyed traditional Belgian Cyclocross fare, Frites and locally batch brewed Roosters beer. This was the last race in the series this year, but the event will be back for more in 2018.