The final race of the Autumn summer season for the Warragul Cycling Club was held at the Darnum circuit on Saturday. Riders were racing for the Tim McArdle Trophy. This trophy is in memory of Dr Tim McArdle, a former member of the Warragul Cycling Club who was tragically killed while on a training ride. It was also long time race starter and handicapper, Staff Duncan’s final race before a well earned retirement. Staff had a tough job to work out how much head start to give the various bunches on the undulating 8km circuit. A, B and C grade would ride 6 laps while the D graders would ride 5 laps. Staff decided to set the riders off in bunches of 3 or 4 to make it even tougher. First off with 15 minutes head start were the C Grade bunch of Brian Munro, Michael Krause, Travis Parker and club president Lawrence Maskill. Only Brian and Michael remained together after the first lap. Next to go with 10 minutes on scratch were Dave Baille, Col Brown, Neil Walker and Steve Muggeridge. Steve found the pace a bit tough but Col, Dave and Neil worked well together.
Next to go off 9 minutes were the trio of Rob Monk, Paul Yeatman and Bret Rollinson. Yeatman was easily the strongest rider in this group and he was forced to do much of the pace making . They slowly hauled in the riders in front and caught them on lap 4.
Next to go, 7 minutes in front of scratch were Ross Henry, Mark Oakley-Brown and Steve Twinning. Following them off 6 minutes were Scott Keeble, Tim Lee and Clint Hick. Clint was strong but wasted energy on surges up the road. The 4 minute bunch contained the experienced trio of Geoff Thomson, Thomas Sandner and Pete Finlayson. These three managed to stay away from the scatchies for 3 of the 6 laps but made sure they have enough energy to latch onto the chasers as they came past. Only 2 minutes in front of scratch was the pair of James Henry and Jason Kruger. They were quickly chased down by the imposing scratch trio of Shane Stiles, Joel Pearson and Luke Hanley. These three scorched around the first lap averaging over 44km/h. They caught James and Jason at the start of lap 2. By lap four they had hauled in Thomas, Thommo and Pete. At the start of the last lap they flew past the final bunch in front of them consisting of Col Brown, Rob Monk, Paul Yeatman and Dave Baillie and Neil Walker. The scatchies should win but they’d picked up some dangerous passengers along the way. Thommo, Thomas and Pete Finlayson hung on as did James Henry and Jason Kruger.
The last lap was a battle of tactics. Stiles and Hanley put in a strong turns past the Darnum footy ground which had the field strung out. This move caused Mark Oakley-Brown, Ross Henry and Paul Yeatman to lose contact. Luke Hanley drove the bunch hard while Thommo, Thomas and others “sat on”, conserving energy for what would be a furious finish.
Along Sthurs Road the field finally slowed for the obligatory cat and mouse game before the final sprint. Thomas Sander sensed this and immediately attacked before the final bend. He established a good break and scatchies looked like losing the race to him after doing all the hard work to chase the outmarkers down. Thomas was seeing dollar signs as the final finish hill loomed but Shane Stiles charged across the gap to him. Shane wanted to make it as hard for fast man Joel Peason as possible but Joel managed to claw back the lead and take out a strong win on the tough uphill finish. Joel has spent the last two years riding professionally in Europe and he needed all his experience, strength and courage to over hall local champ Shane Stiles. Joel is a worthy winner of Tim McArdle trophy. Shane was second with Thommo finishing strongly for third.
All members of the club past and present would like to extend best wishes to long time race starter and handicapper Staff Duncan. For the past seven years, almost without fail, Staff has manned the clipboard and stopwatch on Saturday afternoons. His good humour, laconic attitude to officialdom and outstanding ability to resist cyclists whinging about the handicap he’s given them will be missed by all members of the club. Next week we start the Summer criterium series. Racing starts at 10.30 on Sunday morning at the Veledrome. This day is also our ‘renew your membership’ day.