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The Rob Hodgson Memorial Race Preview bought to you by MOITS and Thornleigh Autobody.

Logan's picture

By Logan - Posted on 15 November 2016

There is just under a week to go to the 2016 Rob Hodgson Memorial Race and the Elite field is absolutely stacked with talent. The stellar field is so deep that it’s hard to pick a clear winner, but we will give it a go regardless. So who are the form riders and potential winners of the race?

Looking at form over the last few weeks, the main pick has to be GPM’s Cameron Ivory, who has been cleaning up on the road and MTB in the last few weeks. Cam dominated the Cape to Cape MTB Race and won three stages, took out the Wollongong Crit two weeks ago and followed up with second place in yesterday’s super-tough edition of the Highland Fling. He is absolutely flying at the moment, and is clearly the man to watch.

Fellow GPM rider Michael Potter has also been in great form on both dirt and road, taking out the NSCC Club Championship last month. Then, in what I would say is a breakthrough result on the MTB, he came third in the Elite Mens Highland Fling, finishing just behind Ivory and current XCM National Champion Brendon Johnston. GPM’s strong team is also bolstered by Harrison Bailey, who took out Wollongong Crit last year, as well as Reece Robinson. There may be some interesting discussions behind the scenes in the leadup to Sunday’s race.

Who else might challenge for the win? If you subscribe to the theory that ‘winning at Heffron means you can win anywhere’, then Gary “Graeme Brown” Millburn can’t be dismissed. Apart from the odd week, Gary and Alex Nazarewicz have been winning for fun at Tuesday night Heffers. Indeed, not a week goes past without Gary taking a victory somewhere in Sydney. In recent days, he has won MWCC’s Friday night HART, finished top five at a wet Heffron and took out the win the week before. Gary has bike handling skills to rival Peter Sagan and can win from the sprint or in the break, so is sure to be a man to watch in the race.

Elsewhere Andrew Finlayson, Tai and Jeff will be deploying team tactics and probably trying to initiate the break and I expect you will see them animating the race in detail. Will they be strong enough to mix it with this stellar field is the question on my mind.

Möbius Racing bring Tristen Cardew and Jesse Coyle to the race, Jesse has been an absolute weapon this year, and in my view is probably been Sydney’s most improved rider. Another dark horse could be former Budget Forklifts rider Mick Cupitt, who showed at the Battle of the Bridge that he can pin on a number after an 18-month break and still make the podium.
We shouldn’t forget some of the younger riders in the race, either. The Dog Squad has been showing great promise all year and with Tour of Bright just around the corner, most of these guys will be hitting some great form.

Angus Calder and Tom Green are coming back from the Tour of Tahiti, where both have been riding strongly. Tom also recently took out a Beauie Worlds, outsprinting the evergreen Matt Garnon. Jack Renshaw has been racing well of late as well, scoring a third place at HART last Friday night, a strong result at The Wall handicap race. What I love about Jack is that he never gives up. This year’s Grafton to Inverell is a great example of this: Jack got dropped, had shifting issues yet still managed to ride back to the bunch. Matt Osborne also gets the step up to the Elite race after coming second in the Silver race last year, while Matt Dinham will likely be in the mix – albeit on a course that doesn’t suit him as much as some of the other riders. Even so, all of these guys have a great chance to show their mettle.

Finally, there are a whole bunch of other names who could mount a sneak attack. You can never count out Matt Garnon. He claims he hasn’t been training, but is still as strong as an ox. The startlist also reveals two names who have not been seen at Beauie in a while – Brad Mills and Anthony Shippard. The big question is whether they will get lost on the way to Beauie in the foreign land north of the harbour, much like Randwick did for Battle of the Bridge? Last but not least, Mr Secret Miler Brett Aitken may not have been seen in a long time, but he was sitting on the back of A Grade two weeks ago at Beauie without any issues.

There are so many more names on the start list, I could go on and on. One thing is for sure, there will be some quality racing on Sunday at the Robbie, so get up to Beaumont Road, Mt Kuring-Gai on Sunday to watch this stellar field go full gas.

NSCC couldn’t attract such a quality field to the Robbie without the generous support of race sponsors MOITS, Thornleigh Autobody and Cyclery Northside. MOITS and Thornleigh Autobody are supporting the race once again with fantastic prize money across all races.

Cyclery Northside are donating primes of a set of Specialized S-Works 6 shoes for the Elite and Women’s races, and a deluxe service voucher in B and C grades.

Cyclery Northside are also donating three random draw prizes: a deluxe service voucher, an S-Works Evade aero helmet and a Body Geometry Fit voucher. All entrants to the race will be entered into the draw, so even if you leave it all out on the road, you’re still in with a chance of winning.

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