2018 Keegan Downes Memorial Sundowner Handicap Cycling Classic set to be a cracker

LOCAL POWER: Terry Roach, Gary Turner, Ben Thompson, Stewart Michel, Sophie King, Ross Durham, Alistair Christie and Tim Duffy.
LOCAL POWER: Terry Roach, Gary Turner, Ben Thompson, Stewart Michel, Sophie King, Ross Durham, Alistair Christie and Tim Duffy.

The field assembled for Saturday’s Keegan Downes Memorial Sundowner Handicap Cycling Classic is one of the classiest in the annual race’s long history, says the event’s organiser.

While Sydney’s Rylee Field will not return to defend his title in the 100-kilometre race from Coonabarabran to Gunnedah, it will feature 22 scratch riders.

They include Brandon Conway, the current NSW under-23 road race champion, Portia Rennie, the current NSW under-19 road race champion, and Kurt Eather, the reigning national under-17 road race champion.

A strong line-up of Gunnedah riders will also complete, with a blue sky and a slight tail wind expected.

Race organiser Gary Turner, who will also ride, described the 112 entries as “fantastic” and similar to last year’s race, although the quality was higher this year.

BONUS: Idyllic weather is expected to greet riders on Saturday - just like last year's race.

BONUS: Idyllic weather is expected to greet riders on Saturday - just like last year's race.

“It’s just been an event that’s been going for 26 or 27 years now, and it’s always had the 100, 100-plus [entries],” he said.

“And a big thing that helps both Tamworth and Gunnedah [cycling clubs] is having ours on a Saturday and the Gunnedah to Tamworth on a Sunday. These riders do love riding. And a two-day weekend ride is fantastic.”

The leading Gunnedah riders will include Tim Duffy, who also competes in ironman triathlons, Ross Durham and Ben Thompson.

“He’s [Duffy] going off the limit [the first group] like most of us Gunnedah riders,” Turner said. “But he’s just coming off an ironman he competed in in Port Macquarie only about three weeks ago, which means he’s going to be super fit and strong.”