By Rob Monk
When Handicapper Pete Finlayson had a final look at the handicaps before Saturday’s Tim McArdle Memorial Handicap he toyed with the idea of moving Scott Keeble up a group. Scratch were short on numbers so he’d already moved Matt Malacarne up from the chopping block group. He was going to move Keeble into the chopping block group to compensate but decided to leave it. This proved to be a race changing decision.
Thirty four riders turned out for the club’s handicap championship. First away were Adele Whelan and Louise Clarke. They had 18 minutes on scratch. Five minutes later Dave Bailey, Colin Manintveld, James Golding and Terry Kelly set off in pursuit. They would not catch the girls on lap one.
With 10 minutes head start on scratch the group of Greg Horowitz, Andrew Gordon, Ray York, Harley Bondini and Kate Prestidge would have to work well together to stay away from the chasers. Only one minute later Chris Henne, Pete Davine, Zvonko Maric, Trudy Gallagher and Graeme Patrick set off in pursuit. These groups came together on lap one and looked good. Only Ray York struggled to hold on.
Five minutes later the favourites started. Jayman Prestidge, Charlie Davine, Paul Yeatman and Stuart Battley lacked cohesion but it was a deliberate ploy by Prestidge to cause disorder. He wanted to wait for Scott Keeble, Jayden Manintveld, Brett Rollinson, Pete Whealan, Thomas Sandner and Paul Makepeace who stated a minute and a half later. When this group of 6 merged with Prestidge’s group of 4 midway through lap 1 the chasers were in trouble. Rollinson and Keeble soon had the group working flawlessly and the looking solid.
The chopping block group of Clem Fries, Dave Salton, Graeme Parker and Pete Finlayson wanted to make up the gap to the group in front before the scratch trio of Shane Stiles, Matt Malacarne and Jarryd Jones got to them. Their plan failed. The scratch trio caught them near the end of lap one but they were still a minute and 50 seconds behind the bunch in front.
With a lap to go it was clear the outmarkers were going to be caught. Terry Kelly, Colin Manintveld and Lou Clarke were caught by the group behind at the bell. But only 50 seconds back the 10 strong Prestidge/Keeble bunch were on a mission. They caught all the outmarkers on the hill the third time up and kept the pressure on going down the other side. The combined scratch chopping block group only made up 15 seconds on the group in front on lap 2 and were still 1minute 35 down at the bell.
The lead group forged on dropping most to the “hangers on” along the way. Brett Rollinson put in a huge turn near the finish setting up the sprint for Keeble. Keeble hit the front a long way from home but hugging the center line, he used the crosswind to his advantage. Prestidge had positioned himself well in the sprint. He had Keeble’s wheel but just wasn’t good enough to hold it. Keeble went on to win by 6 bike lengths from Prestidge with Pete Whelan in third. Then followed Stuart Battley, Paul Makepeace, Thomas Sandner, Jayden Manintveld and Greame Patrick.
Next week’s race is at Willow Grove where Warragul takes on the Latrobe Valley club in a combine.