Unrelenting ride in Coota

ONE has plenty of experience on the haycarters circuit while the other is set to take on his maiden event tomorrow.

So when Craig Healey asks the likes of Orange Cycle Club veteran Mason Manwaring just what to expect when they line-up for the 2013 Cootamundra Haycarters Handicap, Manwaring doesn’t pull any punches.

“It’s not just the speed,” Manwaring starts, with tomorrow’s race a 70 kilometre handicap.

“You’re in bunches of 20 to 30 riders, all on their rivet trying to get into a good position to win, particularly in the last 10 kilometres. It’s a full on, slightly down hill sprint finish.

“It’s whoever can last the longest at the end.

“It’s hell for leather. It’s fast.”

As Manwaring puts it, the race is fast and unrelenting.

Riders will average close to 50 kilometres per hour over the duration of the handicap, starting in Coota before flying out on the Muttama, Gundagai, Old Gundagai, Jugiong and Cullinga roads then heading back into Cootamundra for the sprint finish.

Now one of the biggest handicap races for its distance staged in NSW, the Cootamundra Haycarters event has attracted a massive field this year with 289 starters.

“For me its a learning curve,” Healey said.

“I’ve been told from the start it’s on and they spit them out the back pretty quick.

“You’re lungs are pumping from the start.”

Manwaring and Healey are just two of 10 OCC cyclists making the trip for the weekend’s haycarters handicap.

Mick Troy (bunch one), Charlie Gascoyne (bunch four), Andrew Foxall (bunch six), Tully Richards (bunch seven), Joshua Fitzgerald, Alan Giumelli (bunch eight) and Allan Adams and Ian Reed (bunch nine) make up the rest of the contingent.

Healey will jump from Group 5 while Manwaring will get a slight jump on his teammate with a 90-second head start for his for Group 6.

In total, 11 bunches with contest the race with bunch 11 leaving first.

Bunch one, the scratch riders, will leave 25 minutes later.

“It generally comes together in the last few kilometres,” Healey said of the handicap event.

“So if you can hold it together until the end anyone can win. But as soon as those scratch guys catch you, the race is pretty well finished.”

Manwaring was tipping the strong Orange contingent to feature prominently at the event, with Troy finishing sixth in 2012.

“It’s a fairly prestigious race to win and be involved in,” he said.

“All of those blokes will hold themselves in good stead, all work hard in a bunch and make a good showing.”

Six OCC representatives will then remain in Cootamundra for the 60km Sunday Recovery Race.

TOUGH ROAD AHEAD: Orange Cycle Club riders Mason Manwaring (left) and Craig Healey will tackle the 70 kilometre Cootamundra Haycarters Handicap on Saturday. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0508ride2

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