By Rob Monk
Warragul cycling club resumed racing after a 6 week break at Cloverlea on Saturday. Thirty three riders braved buffeting winds and treacherous potholes in the 44k handicap event.
First away with 11 minutes on Scratch were Kate Prestidge, Andrew Jackson and Colin Manintveld. Col and Kate stayed together for the first two laps. Andrew circulated solo for most of the race.
The next bunch away with 8 minutes head start on scratch struggled for cohesion. Paul Kennedy found the going a little tough and was sitting on 6 minute bunch by the end of lap one. Kenno, an expert at getting dropped, managed to be shelled by every group in the field by the end of the race. Andrew Gordon, Clint Wilson, Greg Horbowicz, Trev Rollinson and Matt Kennelly were still together at the end of lap one but were soon caught then spat out by the 6 minute group on lap 2.
With 6 minutes on scratch the group to catch consisted of Dave Salton, Andrew Nicholls, George Tambassis, Col Brown, Simon Baxter, John Batten and first time racer Stuart Battley. Stuart’s start to racing was not great. He missed his group on the start line and spent most of the race trying to chase them down. The rest of the bunch teamed beautifully. Batten and Salton are quality riders and managed to the keep Col Brown under control enough to charge through all groups in front by the end of lap two.
The four minute trio of Ross Henry, Jaymon Prestidge and Neil Walker were always going to struggle. They were all fresh out of rehab. Henry is still recovering from a nose job, Walker from a crash and Prestidge from an overdose of French pastries. They were caught on lap two by the two minute group, expectorated quickly and were not seen again.
Two minutes on scratch was never going to be enough for Rob Monk, Geoff Thomson, Scott Keeble, Pete Whelan, Jack Walk and Jayden Manintveld, especially when their main workhorse, Paul Yeatman missed his start time. Despite reeling in the four minute trio quickly the scratch men were bearing down on them by the end of lap one.
The scratch bunch smashed it up on lap one averaging nearly 40km/h despite the strong winds. Shane Stiles and Justin Gravitt were the main drivers. Pete Finlayson, Cy Monk, Graeme Parker, Glen Marriott and Matt Malacarne rolled through briefly when they could but most of the time they were in survival mode. The scratchies caught the two groups in front by the middle of lap 2 and continued to drive hard. Cy Monk, Gravitt and Stiles were the main pace makers but by now there was a long trail of passengers on the scratch train.
At the bell all riders with the exception of the 6 minute bunch had been caught. The 6 minute bunch had done well but were caught before Parkers Rd. Some of the pace went out of the race as riders tried to save themselves for the sprint. Rounding the home turn Shane Stiles decided he’d ensure none of the sit on sprinters would get an easy run to the finish. He picked up the pace and strung out the field in the cross wind. Riders grovelled in the gutter looking for cover as the pace increased. As usually happens someone “lets the wheel go” and the field splinters. Cy Monk was locked onto Stiles ensuring the break would occur behind him. Sure enough, Finlayson was the first to crack as Stiles picked up the pace with 400 meters to go. Stiles dragged Cy to within 200 meters of the finish before the young fellow rolled past and went on to take victory. This was Cy’s first handicap win from Scratch and fastest time of the day. Stiles was a clear second with another youngster Jack Walk finishing well for third. Then followed Thommo, Greame Parker, Justin Gravitt and Glen Marriott.
The handicap series continues next week at Cloverlea. Race director Finlayson will have to give the limit riders more time next week if the scratch group is as strong again.
- Cyrus Monk
- Shane Stiles
- Jack Walk
- Fastest time Cyrus Monk.