Report by Rob Monk
Warragul Cycling Club members returned to the popular Bourke St Criterium Circuit on Saturday. The later starting time of 3.30 meant riders could finish and watch the triathlon that is run on the same circuit. Some of the cyclists even raced Criterium then backed up in the triathlon as well.
Race director Shane Stiles is experimenting with a flexible grading system this season. This means that depending on the numbers of competitors the grades will vary from week to week.
This week 11 riders started in A grade. Matt Malacarn made a welcome return to racing and set a solid pace in the early laps. Latrobe rider Ben Verhagen initiated some short lived breaks but Stiles and Malacarn were not letting him get too far up the road. The ever aggressive Paul Yeatman tried a few times to time trial off the front but a large number of chasers in the bunch meant any solo breakaways were doomed.
With two laps to go Rob Monk jumped up the King Street hill but the bunch were happy to let him go and by the bell he was caught.
The last lap was run at a solid tempo but the bunch was largely intact approaching the tricky final turn. Pete Finlayson thought he was around the cones in first place and was shocked when Shane Stiles flew past on the inside. Stiles headed for home out of the corner and took out and easy win. Brett Rollinson had positioned himself perfectly on the finishing turn and managed to sprint well to take out second place. In third was Ben Verhagen. Then followed Trian Marut and Geoff Thomson.
The B grade bunch of 7 riders lapped at a good speed. Shane Pettingill, Col Brown and Dan Cleversley were strong and kept the pace high on the King St Hill. Young speedsters Jarryd Jones and James Lalor conserved their energy for the inevitable sprint finish. Coming out the final corner Pettingill put the pressure on but Lalor latched onto his wheel and would not be detached. He came over the top for the win. James first, Shane second and Col Brown third. Then followed Jarryd Jones and Dan Cleversley.
The C grade bunch of seven riders included some novice racers so they were chaperoned around by the experienced duo of Ross and James Henry. The bunch stayed largely intact until Cy Monk put a couple of efforts in up the King St rise. This saw the end of Andrew Gordon who found the pace too hard to follow. It stayed quiet again until the second half of the last lap where Cy tried to get away again but didn’t open a gap. 800m before the finish Chris Jones flew past the rest of the field this opened up a gap and split the six riders into two groups of three. Jones, Charlie Davine and Neil Walker had a twenty metre gap on Cy, Peter Davine and John Davine. By the last corner the gap was only ten metres and the chasers were gaining. With 200m to go it was an all out sprint with Charlie Davine taking the victory Neil Walker 2nd and Cy Monk 3rd. Peter Davine got 4th in the sprint which meant he won the D grade section.
A Grade Report From The Webmaster
A grade saw the surprise inclusion of a number of B grade riders who despite feeling like they may have been stitched up by the handicapper, held their own and figured in the placings. Number 17 was the first to attempt a break shortly after the start and was chased down by number 14. Number 10 was next to launch an attack down the back straight. The field was not very eager to chase him down quickly, but he was captured before the top of the hill on the next lap. Visiting rider Ben Verhagen was keen to ride off the front but no one appeared keen to help him out.
With 20 minutes rider, number 17 had attacked again and was chased down by number 14 who found himself off the front for one and a half laps for the longest break of the day. Verhagen reeled him in along the home straight.
Next to go was Rob Monk who was chased down by Shane Stiles and Verhagen. Stiles launched a few short lived attacks up the hills, but was not let loose.
The race came down for the final 1000m when Peter Finlayson launched an attack down the back straight. He was first around the tricky single lane witch-hatted corner but soon ran out of omph. Stiles took out first from a sprint strongly contested Brett Rollinson. Third place went to Ben Verhagen and 4th to Tristian Marut and 5th Geoff Thomson. The average speed for the A grade race was 36.1kph over 50 minutes. Overall, it felt like a fairly laid back affair for race one.
Number 14, Paul Yeatman tries to hold out for another lap.
Other Weekend Racing News
Joel Pearson took out the Melbourne to Warrnambool handicap held on Saturday. Details here.
Kane Walker (Team 2XU – ARC) came second in the 115km, Victorian Open Road Championship, Shipwreck coast classic held on
Sunday when beaten by Cameron Jennings (Budget Forklifts). Will Clarke (Praties) finished third. The race time was 02:46:33. More details here and here. As Kane was the first Victorian across the line, he now possesses the 2009 Victorian Open Road crown to go with his 2009 Victorian Country Road crown – a fantastic effort.