A day made a big difference for James Archbold when he went from finishing at the rear of the field on Saturday to winning the Ralston Memorial 60km handicap on Sunday.
Archbold, 50, from Timaru, whose son Shane won gold and bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games, motivated the second limit bunch to work together around the Taieri circuit. Bunches behind had joined together, making a formidable group but with 20 kms remaining the gap was 10 minutes. The chase pack included race sponsor Gordon McCauley who, for sentimental reasons, was chasing line honours. Heading to Woodside, McCauley put in a big effort which split the bunch, however with the road running out it was do or die. Rolling over the “ups and downs” towards Mosgiel, the chasers could not see the front bunch and realized the game was up.
At North Taieri experience showed as Archbold won the sprint ahead of 17 year old Matt Nunn from Invercargill, Brian Lippers and Jamie Wilson. 15 year old Mark McCormack finished next ahead of Georgia Vessey.
As the scratch bunch, whittled down to McCauley, Brad Evans, Tom Vessey and Anthony Chapman, approached the line, spectators were treated to a gritty McCauley finish with the 42 year old taking time honours. Roxburgh teacher, Tess Molloy, was fastest female.
The Ralston family encouraged McCauley into cycling and his passion for the sport led him to racing professionally in Europe, medalling at the Commonwealth Games and winning a record 5 New Zealand road championship titles.
Nine months after a bike crash left him with broken legs, McCauley is heading to Invercargill for his 23rd Tour of Southland. Although doctors advised he would never race elite again “Gordy”, whose strength of character was never in doubt, is now race-fit, although slightly wary about the long-term consequences.