Jesse Ewart (Team Sapura Cycling/Newcastle CC) and Danielle De Francesco (Specialized Women's Racing/Gold Coast CC) have won the 2021 Darren Smith Classic sponsored by Bear Constructions in Mt Alford, the final round of the 2021 KOM Financial Advice Queensland Classic Road Series.
With riders scattered all over the gruelling Mt Alford circuit served up by Gold Coast Cycling Club, it was Ewart who would chase down eventual overall series and young rider classification winner Rhys Robotham (Oliver's Real Food Racing/Balmoral CC) and Alex Bogna (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast/Mackay CC) with one lap to go in the 131km Men's Elite A road race.
The Gold Coast-based Ewart reeled in Robotham and Bogna on the final lap, finishing with a buffer of +2:10 over Robotham in second and Connor Reardon (St George Continental Cycling Team/Gold Coast CC) in third via a three-man sprint with Joe Cooper (Giant Racing Team/Gold Coast CC) and Ben Carman (Nero Continental/Logan City CC).
QCRS leader Kane Richards (Meiyo CCN Pro Cycling/Gold Coast CC) would finish in 11th, resulting in the final overall leader's jersey donning the shoulders of the consistent Robotham by five points. Matthew Lambert (Tandem Co x Attaquer Pro Cycling/University of Queensland CC) rounded out the 2021 KOM Financial Advice QCRS Elite Men's A overall podium in third.
In the Women's A race, it was the familiar faces of Emily Herfoss (Roxsolt Attaquer p/b Liv SRAM/Gold Coast CC) and De Francesco lighting up the energy-sapping 79km of racing.
Herfoss and De Francesco established themselves as the leading duo through three laps of the slightly altered 2018 State Road Race Championships course.
As the pair came into view down the final hill, it was Herfoss who rode the front and lead into the final corner before opening up her sprint early.
De Francesco had enough firepower to come around Herfoss, eventually winning by two bike lengths over her Gold Coast CC compatriot.
Sydney Uni-Staminade's Gina Ricardo (Sydney Uni Velo Club) outsprinted Isabelle Carnes (Balmoral CC) for the final spot on the podium, while Theresa Waldburger (Logan City CC) notched her third win of the series in Women's B.
The 2021 Tour de Brisbane National Road Series winner's Darren Smith Classic triumph elevated her overall points advantage to 27 points ahead of young rider overall winner Carnes and Rachael Wales (VeloFit Australia Racing Team/South Perth Rouleurs).
In the hotly contested Men's Masters A field, it was Dan Wilson (Wolf Racing/Hamilton Wheelers CC) who tasted success for the first time in the 2021 KOM Financial Advice QCRS, following three consecutive second-place finishes.
On lap one, a small break of five riders rode clear and spent most of the lap up the road. They were reeled back in shortly before the end of the lap, which gave Kyle Godson (Entrago Racing p/b Aeon Health/University of Queensland CC) cause to try his hand early in the second lap.
On the second ascent up the KOM, the peloton was ripped to shreds by an attacking surge led by Wilson and Andrew Friebe (Harcourts Racing Team/University of Queensland CC) in a successful attempt of bridging to Godson.
At the start of the fourth and final lap, the lead group had been whittled down to the trio of Wilson, Godson and Friebe, with the list of DNFs growing in their wake.
On the last time up the KOM, Wilson and Friebe opened a small gap to Godson, who was forced to ride the last 15km on a slow puncture.
The 2021 KOM Financial Advice QCRS Men's Masters A overall standings mirrored the day's racing, with Wilson claiming the golden pineapple jersey ahead of Friebe and Godson.
Men's Elite B was won by an impressive Max Campbell from the Sunshine Coast Cycling Club and Tandem Co x Attaquer Pro Cycling, Matson McAdam (NCMG Criterion Racing/Balmoral CC) finished in second at +9:11, ahead of Jordan Matters (Cobra9 Intebuild Elite Team/University of Queensland CC) in third at +10:43.
Women’s C and D grades saw a group of five of C’s strongest stay away, with Hannah Kelly of the University of Queensland Cycling Club besting clubmate Sarah Bryden and Moreton Bay Cycling Club’s Narelle Coutts to the line in the five-up sprint. Margaret Patterson of the Hamilton Wheelers Cycling Club claimed the win in Women’s D.
The only two races to serve up a bunch finish were Elite Men’s C, and the Master’s C and D, who raced together. In the Elite C race, it was Kurt Hindmarsh of the University of Queensland Cycling Club who claimed the win, beating the Balmoral Cycling Club duo of Michael Cook and Mitchell Stewart in second and third respectively.
The Masters C crown was claimed by Richard Burton, whose University of Queensland Cycling Club compatriot Pieter van Heerden finished in second, ahead of Paul Hackett of the Brisbane Cycling Club.
Masters D’s fastest finishers had their own bunch sprint for second place after Phil Soegaard of the Gold Coast Cycling Club proved the strongest on the day.