By Geoff Cuckson
Was it experience that won, or inexperience that lost, Warragul Cycling Club’s open handicap last Saturday?
A small field of 12 riders took to the hilly course with seasoned campaigners Geoff Thomson and John Salton riding from scratch and giving away three and eight minute start to the other groups.
Off the limit, juveniles Stuart Cuckson, Brett Miller and Travis Fromholtz were handicapped with Sue Van derveen and Paul Yeatman to cover a lap of Christies Rd sandwiched between two laps of the Copelands Rd circuit, a total of 39 km.
The middle markers in Murray Fenwick, Brett Williams and Anthony Radcliffe had a couple of old heads in Graeme Hanks and Brian Miller to push them along. This strong and capable group rode solidly early and was able to make up over two minutes on the limit and drop only 30 secs to the scratchies over the first 10 km. After losing Brian Miller they picked up and went past the out markers taking Cuckson with them. Although then losing Radcliffe the bunch still looked very strong as Hanks took them through with only a 10 km lap to go.
Thomson and Salton were working well together but were still 1 min 30secs behind and not making as much ground as expected. At a crucial point inside the final seven km, the experienced Hanks unfortunately punctured and the youngsters lost their momentum without him.
Sensing a lack of cohesion in front, the back markers picked up Radcliffe and the three riders belted down the back straight and grabbed the leaders on the last turn into Bloomfields Rd. The bunch remained intact until Salton, as has been his custom, burst clear with 300 metres to go. However Thomson, with more recent racing in his legs, grabbed his wheel and came over the top to snatch a very close victory in the last 30 metres.
Williams, having been pulled a couple of minutes for his victory last week, continued his improved form to come in third with Fenwick a close up fourth. Radcliffe battled on well after being dropped in mid race and then regaining the bunch and Cuckson rode well to take sixth, 15 secs behind the Winner. Brett Miller led in the other riders and was followed by Yeatman, the luckless Hanks and Brian Miller who battled on well in his first ride for some time. Fromholtz, in his first serious hit out for the season, rode extremely well and only lost the combined front bunch after 53 minutes of riding. Van derveen continued to put in some gutsy efforts but appeared to be suffering from the hard riding of the previous weekend.
Next Saturday will see another handicap event over approximately 40 km in place of the previously publicised team time trials, alterations to the program for the following two weeks will be advised next week.
On Sunday 19, members and followers of the cycling club are encouraged to go over to Bayles, near Kooweerup, to support several of the Warragul riders who have entered for the State Individual Time Trial Championships
The juvenile 2 riders are scheduled to commence the days events at 10:30 am with a 15 km trial and are to be followed by Juvenile 1 (20 km), juniors (30 km), women (30 km) and amateur/veterans (40 km).
All Warragul riders are expected to give bold showings with Brett Miller, Brett Williams, Aaron Nobelius, Wayne Kestle and Sue Van derveen having put in some top performances in recent events held around the state. The club wishes all competitors the best of luck.