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Andy Connelly displayed aggressive solo racing to drop the bunch for long periods in the last race for 2012 on the Wingatui circuit on Saturday.
The 48km race was a sealed handicap over eight laps of the tough Wingatui circuit. The course included two sharp corners, railway crossings, undulations and a strong westerly wind, which split the bunch from the outset.
Although Connelly showed guts to jump away, a bunch of four to five riders was able to shelter and draft to conserve energy. From this group, Brad Evans crossed the line in a close sprint, ahead of Chris Harvey, with Connelly a deserving third.
Connelly, a school teacher and father of two, was pleased with this effort, despite being hampered in one of his attacks by the Taieri Gorge Railway train, which slowed his progress on Factory Rd.
Phil Turnwald showed a good return to form after a back injury sidelined him for three months, and Glen Todd and Carl Haddon rode well, despite the torrid pace which eventually forced them off the back.
Honours in the sealed handicap went to Evans' father, Wayne. Muir Gold and Daniel Cresswell (fastest junior) took the minor placings.
Further back, fastest female Elyse Fraser was deserted by co-riders Chris Henderson, Stu Thomas and Michael Greaves, and was left to lament what might have been as she battled the strong wind with John Lynch.
With a third of the entrants not finishing due to punctures and abandonments, Dwayne Sheddon and Jan Brosnahan teamed up to finish strongly ahead of back markers Viv Allen-Kelly, Wayne Green, Bruce Blackburn, Bill Allen and Barry Ellis.
Racing resumes on January 12 but all eyes will be on Greg Henderson and Reta Trotman as they contest the elite national road championships in Christchurch from January 11-13.
By Jan Brosnahan.