A small field of 17 riders headed out to the Old Sale Road parcours for some inspired racing on a much flatter course to that of the Herald Sun Tour. A combined A and B grade took off for three laps of the 15km circuit, which consists of a 7.5km out-and-back course. The group stayed together for their first two laps, until regular B grade rider Stevie Sandner was inspired to attack the field, bringing fellow B grade rider Pete Finlayson with him. Content that Stevie’s father, Thomas, would not try to reel in the breakaway duo, Pete kept the pressure on over the final 15 kilometres, pushing themselves to their limits and increasing their lead. Over the final kilometre Stevie showed to have the freshest legs, and he spun home to take the victory over Pete. Behind them, A grade riders Thomas and John Salton were more interested in keeping an eye on each other rather than the breakaway B graders, much to the frustration of final bunch member, B grade rider Geoff Thomson. Too much work too early spent the sprint ability of Thomas, and John Salton was able to take out the A grade win. The season’s hill and flat course racing alternates should mean a close overall season finish for the two specialists.
The lack of damaging hills led C grade rider Rob Monk to declare that in future, all road races should consist of similar terrain. Relishing the Old Sale Road planes, Monk kicked the pace hard for the 8-rider C grade field, which included Sam Duncan back for a ride in his break from the Services. This left Dave Axford with little time to find some shoes for the race, and he joined the field later. With the stronger C grade membership driving the pace, Duncan was an early casualty, losing touch on the return leg. Monique Hanley also had (medical) mechanical issues over this lap and retired early. Axford lost touch over the second lap, while the remaining 5 riders stuck together despite Monk’s best attack efforts. For most of the third lap, the pace see-sawed as Rob Monk continued to attack the field, recover, and attack again in order to break up the bunch. Michael Pridmore was the only rider not to survive the onslaught, and the rest of the pack settled in for a bunch finish. Keeping some energy reserves in supply, Monk relished the opportunity to power home for a well-deserved victory, ahead of Ross Henry and Trent Brown.
The small D grade field were reduced almost immediately as Sam Atkinson suffered a puncture over the first few kilometres. With such an intimate field, they remained together for their first lap whereafter a toey Roger Bell took off at the turnaround point. Brendan Pridmore further reduced numbers by retiring after lap one. Roger’s enthusiasm saw him complete a very quick second lap as Glenda Pridmore chased hard. Roger took the win as Glenda stormed home to take out a well-ridden second place, her highest finish.
Next week’s racing will be held at Buln Buln from 2pm.