By Rob Monk
Warragul took on Leongatha cycling club in a combine at the tough Poowong East circuit on Saturday. It was hills, hills and more hills and the hot conditions meant there were some tired riders at the end of the race.
In A grade Leongatha dominated. Brett Franklin and Nick Youngs made the initial break on the first climb into Poowong. Stuart Smith was patient but eventually decided he’d ride across the gap to them. This trio rode the rest of lap one together off the front of the chasers. Turning left to the finish on lap 2 Smith put the pressure on and immediately had Franklin in trouble. Youngs proved a harder nut to crack though. Nick stayed with Stuart nearly all the way to the finish. Smith had to dig deep to break Youngs spirit within sight of the finish. Smith went away to take a strong win. Youngs second with Franklin not far away in third. The race for fourth was hotly contested. On the climb into Poowong the second time Jayden Manintveld broke from the chasing pack to go after the 3 leaders. Ron Purtle and Glen Marriott chased as well. Purtle broke away and Marriott and Manintveld worked together to bring him back. Manintveld blew up and Marriott rode on. On the final climb to the finish Marriott and Purtle were locked together. Marriott was just too quick in the sprint to take fourth.
The B graders stayed together for most of lap one. As usual Paul Yeatman struggled on the hills but ground his way back on when the road levelled out. Yeatman was forced to withdraw at the end of lap one with a mechanical problem. The race blew apart on the climb up to Poowong on lap 2. Roland Elstrom and Graeme Parker rode away and worked well together to maintain and even extend their break on the flats. Neil Walker and Stuart Battley gave chase but could not catch. Parker was too quick in the sprint for Roland. Walker just beat Battley in the sprint for third about 4 minutes later. Pete Whelan and Pete Finlayson looked hot and bothered when they rolled in for fifth and sixth place a further 3 minutes back.
The C grade race broke up on lap one as Peter Sorenson, Graeme Patrick and Shane Pettingill showed their strength. Going with them for much of lap one was soon to be promoted D Grader Shane Wakkar. Sorenson Patrick and Pettingill were together at the end of lap one but a long way apart by the finish. Shane rode away from Graeme and Peter on lap 2. He went on to win by over a minute from Graeme who was two minutes in front of Peter. The hills can take their toll.
Shane Wakkar was a clear winner in D grade with Pete O’Donnell in second. Pete believes the flats of Cloverlea next week will suit his physiology better next week.
A highlight next week will be O’Donnell taking on Bill Frew in his long awaited return to racing. This battle will be worth turning up for.