It was a race to remember with 35 riders clicking in for the bunch start at Lillico and the title of club champion at stake. Rod, Lawrence, Paul and Glenda were happy to stay away from the main peloton up ahead racing their own race after a quicker than expected start out of the blocks from Pete Bailey. With the main bunch a little uncertain of tactics it was a case of cat and mouse over the first of the 4 laps. Only a few riders were swapping off the front with many keen to spectate and wait for the attacks.
The attacks were however few and far between with a testing pace up the drive-in hill stretching but not pushing anyone over the edge. Ross Henry was an early casualty with a puncture and Chris Beales succumbed to illness and rode at a pace far below his usual. Danny Dilger decided that the scenery was passing too slowly and pushed off the front for a spell. Paul Yeatman also found himself off the front but it was a breakaway that would never last.
By the end of the second lap Trevor Rollinson, David Baillie, Steve Hall, Steve Evans, David Axford , Helmut and Brendan were left racing for their individual grade as some were held up by traffic. B and A Grade cyclists (with the exception of Michael Pridmore) comprised the leading bunch of 22 that entered the thrid lap and still no one looked like making a significant break. A surge in pace was followed by a complete slow down allowing the strung out group to re-form again with the stragglers having time to catch their breath. Col Brown after an extended lay off was showing he hadn’t lost too much fitness and big Phil Gallagher was also holding fast despite no preparation at all. Up front Thomas, Matt, Brett and co were working turns but still no one launched for an attack. The race was quickly falling into the hands of Scott Keeble who by this stage was lying low in the bunch hoping the pace would stay off until the finish.
The final lap saw a bunch of 20 remain with Terry and Danny losing touch. A push up the ‘drive-in’ hill saw a gap created with Tim Lee, Luke, Justen and Paul losing touch but this was only momentarily as again the bunch slowed and everyone rejoined. Simon Cuckson and Bruce Horskin marshaled the second last corner without incident as the bunch turned towards home for the final time. A lone cyclist breakaway was shut down on the steady rise to the final turn and the increase in tempo again shed some cyclists from the back.
Position out of the final corner and into the two hills prior to the sprint was important and the addition of a cattle truck to the peloton made the race even more interesting. Despite being well placed Matty Malacarne’s hopes deflated with his tyre on the final hill and he was forced to walk the remaining distance. Meanwhile Scott who was at the back of the bunch at the bottom of the final hill saved his best till last to launch up the face and lay down the gauntlet. Thommo responded in the big gear but couldn’t quite grab the wheel and Steve Sandners usual spring loaded response wasn’t quite there. Gerrard Donnelly found great position to challenge but no one could get Scotty who crossed comfortably in front of Thommo and Gerrard. Steve Sandner finished in fourth as the first junior and Steve Twining having ridden the Blue Rock Classic in the morning took out the first unplaced masters position.
The improving Trent Brown grabbed the first B-Grade rider, Michael Pridmore grabbed the first unplaced C-Grade position and Dave Axford took out the D-Grade award. Lawrence Maskill finished off a strong ride to take the first female award. Overall it was a great race and well supported. Next week the new season kicks off with a race at Fishers Rd (picnic point) and it is expected to be a big turn-out.