By Geoff Cuckson
Saturday’s racing took the form of graded scratch races with another good turnout of riders ensuring strong fast competition. The top two grades, with six and eight riders respectively, were required to cover 39 kms over the Christies and Lillico Rd circuits. Although sent off at different times, each grade moved along quickly in their bunches without any real attempts to split the groups.
The A grade was at its strongest for many weeks with regulars Geoff Thomson and Murray Fenwick being joined by Phil Gallagher, Wayne Kestle, Aaron Nobelius and Anthony Radcliffe. After losing Radcliffe in the first 10 kms, the other riders worked solidly, appreciating each others ability to cover any attempted breaks. In a hair-raising finish, with riders zigzagging across the road, Gallagher led out and held on gamely to take the event in a time of 1:04:37, 1.12 seconds ahead of fifth placed Fenwick. Between them, Kestle, with a clear run in the middle of the road grabbed second ahead of Nobelius. Thomson took fourth after running into a dead end as the bunch, at full steam, picked up a finishing C grader Ian De Bruyne inside the final 30 meters. Radcliffe, after a sudden illness mid race, battled on well to come in five minutes behind the winner.
The B grade took two minutes longer to cover the first 19 km but quickened the pace appreciably in the middle lap. Although they lost Brett Williams in Christies Rd and Russ Walker past the drive-in, the other six scooted along in close formation. In the final sprint Travis Fromholtz went for home over the rise but for the second successive week John Pettingill grabbed the right wheel. In another tight finish, he zipped out close to home and grabbed the year 10 schoolboy on the line for a winning time of 1:07:40, right on their wheels, Ross Henry took third ahead of Paul Yeatman who was balked slightly whilst finishing quickly.
Despite his protestations at being too slow to keep up with “these young blokes”, Ian Fromholtz hung on to the bunch grimly to come in fifth, two seconds only from the winner. Graeme Hanks actually finished third in the bunch but as he joined the race after eight kms, was not considered for placings. Again, however, he worked the group well and is certainly riding in good form at the moment.
Walker gave plenty of cheek on the early hills before losing the bunch and is doing a great job in his climb into higher ranks, finishing less than four minutes down in sixth place.
The C grade event was run over 29 kms with Ben Hornsby showing his strength and continued improvement by blitzing his seven opponents. After shaking off Anthony Vogrig, Scott Keeble and Jason Boxall by the halfway mark, he careered away to score comfortably in a time of 55:40. The other two riders, after dropping Boxall, had a great tussle with the youngster Keeble showing a welcome return to form to swamp Vogrig in the final sprint, some 90 seconds from the winner.
Boxall came in fourth ahead of Ted Dunn with a keen De Bruyne taking sixth ahead of Marion Ophof. Stephen Fenwick took on the 10km circuit in the juniors after earlier covering eight with the C graders. His time was a creditable 25.11 whilst John Dent knocked over a minute and a half off his previous best with a 28.30 after a 2.45 hill climb over one km.
Thomson still holds the points lead with 36, ahead of Boxall (31), Henry (28), Fenwick and Travis (26ea) and eight other riders between 20 and 23 points.
The Gippsland Road Championships are to be held next Sunday June 6th at Leongatha commencing at 11.00am from McMillan.
Members are also reminded of the Club’s June meeting which is to be held Tuesday 8th at 7.30pm.