A NSW Ambulance officer attends to a fallen cyclist at the Battle of the Border cycling event.
A NSW Ambulance officer attends to a fallen cyclist at the Battle of the Border cycling event.

Salt battle claims casualties

THE Salt track lived up to its treacherous reputation in yesterday's criterium leg of the Battle of the Border with two hospitalising crashes in the space of one race.

Forget the revved-up hot wheels of Wintersun, Salt's two-wheeled pedal power was where the action really lay.

Lauded on the event's website as a “pretty tight circuit, with various quick, right angle turns,” three cyclists initially came down in the Masters B/under-19B category.

Despite first aid officers on the scene treating injuries, the race was allowed to continue until a second crash on the same corner sent cyclists flying over those already wounded, resulting in broken collar bones and a hideous array of bitumen burns.

That left organisers no choice but to stop the race.

In contention for a top spot until that point, Murwillumbah Cycle Club member Nicholas Booth's race was hindered by the interruption and he faded to 12th.

However the result was still good enough for the champion cyclist to be named overall winner of the Masters B category.

In a further haul for the club, Masters C duo Steve Johnson and Michael Hayward bagged a clean double in their criterium, while MCC president Dave Costanzo finished an unlucky 13th in the Masters A class - enough to give him a top-10 finish overall.

However perhaps the most impressive result of all the locals came in the blue ribbon Elite A event.

Despite crossing the criterium finish line in ninth spot, Brendan Brooks' sensational form across all the weekend's events earned him a second place ahead of some far more fancied and internationally renowned opposition.

“It was a really good tour, and our cyclists did pretty well on the whole,” Costanzo said.

“Brendan was the best and gutsiest of them all, racing on his own against experienced international teams and coming out well.

“This tour is the closest any of us local riders will get to a proper tour, so it was great for us to experience it in our own backyard.”

A total of 304 entrants contested the inaugural “Tour de Tweed” and project planner Jo Robinson believes the event was a huge success.

“The concept for the tour was to relax or party, and then race hard across the Tweed Valley,” she said.

“In that regard, and from all the feedback and compliments given by riders, I'd say it was a really great weekend.

“There were even comparisons drawn to the “Tour de Sunshine Coast” which is a great achievement in just our first year.

“We hope to be back bigger and better in 2010.”

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