Scott Keeble, Thomas Sandner and son Steve were the dominant forces at the Warragul Cycling Club annual club championships on Saturday, easily accounting for their opposition in cool conditions at Picnic Point. The in-form Sandner, riding high on a recent winning spree with an untouchable season points lead, sought to attack the field early and remain away the entire race. The move proved successful, as the chase group struggled to organise themselves and reduce the gap.
The annual championships present a unique opportunity for members across all grades to compete against each other on the basis of age, rather than ability. For some, the prospect of competing against A grade riders when their normal race might consist of D grade riders can be daunting; however this did not deter 27 riders with a varied level of ability to compete in good spirit.
Race proceedings got off to an unusual start with regular volunteer race directors located elsewhere, forcing some self-registering for the regulars and confusion for new comers. Thankfully, stepping up to the task in time were Norm Baberton and Wilf Tampoline, who had originally intended to assist with road marshalling duties. Their assistance was most appreciated by the peloton, who could now concentrate on choosing the course and distance to race.
The Open section finally set off to complete one lap of the Jindivick loop followed by one lap of the Fishers Road circuit, and consisted of riders representing grades from A through to D. Given the large range of abilities, a slower pace was set early with the intention of keeping the group together for a final bunch sprint. However the extended climbing sections on-route to Jindivick played havoc on Trent Brown and Monique Hanley – the latter accepting some ride assistance on the steeper sections from A graders Scott Keeble and Matt Malacarne. Regardless of their help, the elevation of the Jindivick high plains caused breathing difficulties for Monique who eventually lost touch.
The remaining group stayed together through the descent and into the flat terrain of southern Labertouche, with Scott Keeble stretching his legs on the front. Following the bell lap, the pace increased on the picnic point climb, straining C grade regular Luke Hanley who fought hard to stay in touch, but eventually succumbing on the Wall alongside Brett Rollinson. Tim Lee lost touch shortly after, leaving only B grade rider Justen O’Connor with Matt Malacarne and Scott Keeble. Keeble took the title comfortably in the sprint over Malacarne, followed shortly after by O’Connor.
The large Masters field set off two minutes behind Open with an equally diverse range of experience and abilities. It took only 500 metres before Thomas Sandner attacked the bunch, with many believing the tactic similar to French rider Jackie ‘Suicide’ Durand as unsustainable. Sandner, however, was on a mission, quickly establishing a gap that steadily increased on the climb into Jindivick. He easily made up the two-minute buffer on the casual Open group ahead of him, passing them before Jindivick and placing an important psychological barrier between him and the chase group.
His pursuivants consisted of fellow A grade rider Geoff Thomson and B grade riders Wayne Chester, Pete Bailey, Dean Macintosh and Garry Wishart. A great climb from C grade rider Rob Monk saw him reach Jindivick soon after, but he struggled to regain touch with the chasing bunch on the descent. Remaining riders from the Masters field followed Monk up the final sharp pinch into Jindivick, albeit spread out considerably. The five-man chase squad needed to work together on the flat terrain to pull back time on Sandner ahead, but with the Open race bunch blocking his whereabouts, they were unable to pin point the exact distance gap and subsequent work required to haul him in.
Frustration from unequal work loads added to the uncertainty, shaking the morale of the bunch and contributing to their inability to pull back time. Meanwhile, Sandner retained his self-belief despite slowing momentarily through the flat section. Once conquering The Wall on the Fishers Road circuit, it was a matter of keeping his time trial mode consistent until the finish. He crossed the line 4 minutes, 9 seconds ahead of the chase bunch, which was led home by Wayne Chester, Garry Wishart, Geoff Thomson, Pete Bailey and Dean Macintosh. Rob Monk finished three minutes later, with the second bunch finishing four minutes behind Monk, claimed by Dave Axford, Sale rider Phil Medhurst and Vic Spunner.
The small junior field was required to complete two laps of the Fishers Road circuit, which incorporates the infamous ‘Wall’ climb. Steve Sandner proved to be no match for Michael and Brendan Pridmore, although a broken pedal severely affected Brendan’s chances who was forced to retired after one lap. Steve continued the second lap on his own, coming home a couple of minutes ahead of Michael.
Many thanks to volunteers Norm and Wilf for their valuable assistance on the day.
Next week there will be no club racing due to the annual Gippsland Three Day Tour. Warragul Cycling Club will be hosting the final stage on Monday, 14th June at the Shady Creek Circuit, departing at Darnum. The club needs volunteers to assist with the operation of the event – please contact Club President Steve Hall on 0418 507 597 if you can help on the day. Further information is available on the Club website www.warragulcyclingclub.org.au
Race Results – Club Championships, June 5th 2004
OPEN – 1 lap Jindivick, 1 lap Fishers Road
- Scott Keeble 1.14.57
- Matt Malacarne 1.15.01
- Justen O’Connor 1.15.10
- Tim Lee 1.15.45
- Brett Rollinson 1.16.35
- Luke Hanley 1.16.57
- Trent Brown 1.23.39
- dnf Monique Hanley
MASTERS – 1 lap Jindivick, 1 lap Fishers Road
- Thomas Sandner 1.12.40
- Wayne Chester 1.16.49
- Garry Wishart
- Geoff Thomson
- Pete Bailey
- Dean Mackintosh 1.16.53
- Rob Monk 1.19.17
- Dave Axford 1.23.15
- Phil Medhurst
- Vic Spunner
- Roger Bell
- Steve Hall
- Terry Kelly
- Glenda Pridmore 1.35.00
- Bill Frew
- Pete Finlayson
JUNIORS – 2 laps Fishers Road
- Steve Sandner 51.30
- Michael Pridmore 53.30
- dnf Brendan Pridmore