CYCLING: It was a case of survival of the fittest as a host of cyclists took to the Yamba Business Park criterium track for the Grafton Cycle Club's annual Yamba Shores Tavern Jacaranda Criterium.
In tough conditions that were only made worse by the reflective Fairtrader Drv track, riders had to endure temperatures in the mid-to-high 30s while also battling wind gusts of up to 50km/h.
It was a battle of attrition according to Grafton Cycle Club secretary Nigel Blake with about half the competitors in the lower grades pulling out mid race.
"We had a good amount of visitors down for the event and some pretty hot racing on the track," he said.
"The heat was pretty tough for the riders, some of the riding computers were measuring up into the 40s.
"It just made it a much more tactical race because there was nowhere for riders to hide out there. There were a few blowouts and riders retiring early but it did not detract from the racing."
One rider who coped well in the conditions was A-grade champion Gold Coast rider Brendan Cole who led from the front before lapping half his opponents on his way to victory.
"There was a group of those riders who led early in A grade and there was just no chance the field could chase them down," Blake said.
"I think that is testament to the fitness and ability of those guys."
The biggest positive to emerge from the event was the improved level of safety for competitors on the track as well as the increased speed on offer.
Track safety had been a major concern for the club with the previous makeshift Prince St track blamed for a number of accidents and serious injuries in the past but Blake said they were not an issue at the Fairtrader Dr location.
"We try not to measure success of an event based on the number of ambulance calls but it was definitely good not to have to call them," he said.
"Rider safety is a paramount concern of ours and we have to take it in to consideration so much more now with insurances and bike costs."
JACA CRIT WINNERS
A grade, Barry Thew Medal - 1st Brendan Cole, 2nd Nathan Chowell, 3rd Matthew Everett
B grade - 1st Duncan Elliot, 2nd Philip Almond, 3rd Chris Janz
C grade - 1st Mick Gavin, 2nd Joel Barker, 3rd Terrance Fraser
D grade - 1st Harry Rouke, 2nd Chris Ryan, 3rd Graeme Way
Junior - 1st Shaun Marsh
Novice - Casseea Lovell, Christian Lovell