THE annual Moruya road race will take place again this weekend and after taking many forms over the past two decades, the event is set to return to its original format.
“It has taken different shapes over the past 20 years, but this time it is back to a handicap road race and a criterium,” Eurobodalla Cyclists Club spokesman Stephan Brennan said.
After a “successful” club invitational last year, the event will graduate to an open handicap tomorrow on the challenging 52km Kiora course (west of Moruya) before Sunday’s graded criterium.
“Sunday’s races will be held on the fast, wide, hot mix at Shelly Road, North Moruya, with great vantage points for the public to get close to the action,” Brennan said.
“Wider participation this year should provide for some sensational cycling.”
Two men who will be going all out over the next couple of days are former Eurobodalla men Brendan Johnston and Mitchell Pearson.
Both are tipped to be near the top of Sunday’s standings and Johnston said he couldn’t wait.
“It’s always great to get back down to Moruya, as obviously I’m in Canberra now,” he said.
“I always enjoy coming back down the coast to where I’m from and where I used to train to take part in a race.
“It’s a pretty social race and it’s always good to race with the people I used to train with.”
Johnston will head into this weekend’s Moruya event in form.
After an impressive stage win at the Cape to Cape mountain bike race in Perth, Johnston came third in the Highland Fling (a 110km race held at Bundanoon), which he described as “arguably the biggest mountain bike marathon event of the year”.
However despite those recent successes, Johnston said he was anything but a certainty to win the Moruya road race.
“It’s a handicap race so it always depends on what sort of time gap they give me,” he said.
“I’ll be starting last and I’ll be on my own so we’ll see if I can close the gap or not.”
While Johnston’s immediate focus was on Moruya this weekend, it has been difficult for him to take his mind off next month’s Herald Sun Tour.
The prestigious Victoria event, where Johnston will compete as part of the Suzuki-Trek team, hosts some of the world’s best cyclists and was won by Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins in 2009.
“It’s probably the biggest race we’ll ever do and there are some big teams there like the Orica GreenEDGE pro team,” Johnston said.
“I’m pretty excited about it and I’ve got alright form so it should be good.”
After mixing it with the world’s elite, it will be straight into preparations for the under-23 National Road Championships before the National Mountain Bike series gets underway in February.