By Rob Monk
In Cycling there is a tradition of “gifting” races. A stronger rider who has many victories already on his palmares will allow a lessor rider to take victory in a stage or minor race as a sign of generosity and respect. The most famous of these was when Lance Armstrong gifted Marco Pantani the Mont Ventoux stage in the 2000 tour. Pantani did not appreciate the gift and claimed Armstrong had belittled him. Armstrong famously declared after Pantani’s prognostications, that there would be “No more gifts” and he never gifted another race to anyone.
Shane Stiles and Matt Parkinson are not Lance Armstrong although they have many recent victories. They gifted Rob Monk his first A grade victory on Saturday.
Stiles and Parkinson were clearly stronger than the rest of the A grade bunch. Pete Whelan, Monk and Brett Kennedy had tried in the early parts of the race to get away but they were always brought back to the fold.
Everyone knew at some stage Parkinson or Stiles would get away and the race would be over for the rest. Parkinson was allowed to roll off the front with 6 laps to go. Stiles played a waiting game. He’d let the weaker riders chase, tire themselves then make the decisive jump across the gap. Whelan chased, then Parker when off the front in search of Parkinson. He didn’t get far as George “Crystal Cranks” Tambassis didn’t live up to his nickname and put in a huge turn to bring him back.
Stiles then pounced. He sprinted out of the bottom corner and no-one could hold his wheel. Rob Monk was the unlikely rider who made it furthest across the gap with Stiles. Rounding the top corner a meek cry of “Wait for me.” emanated from Monk’s lips and Stiles sat up just long enough for the pair of them to join forces and chase down Parkinson. Parkinson and Stiles smashed out a new 5 lap STRAVA record for the endeavour Street Circuit while Monk hung on like an overweight bulldog to a pair of greyhounds.
At the finish line they gifted Monk the victory which unlike Pantani, Monk shamelessly accepted. Meanwhile the chasers disintegrated. Finlayson, Tambassis and Kennedy called it a day early while Parker and Whelan chased in vain and where half a lap down at the end.
Paul Yeatman thought he should have been in A grade and raced accordingly. He jumped off the front of the B grade bunch early had the A group in sights until they started to race. The remaining 7 B grade riders, if they worked together should have been able to keep Yeatman in sight but there was no organisation in the chase whatsoever. Ross Henry and Bruce Staben worked hard on the front, with others doing a little bit. Pete Bailey lacked power and new races Daniel Bishop and Darren McNair lacked experience. Thommo was just rolling around, In the end Yeatman took a lap on the bunch for an emphatic victory. The rapidly improving Jason Tubnor was second with Ross Henry in third.
The C grade race broke apart early when Glen Walker put the pace on and rode the first 20 minutes off the front. Such was his lead that Steve Muggeridge had to ride hard on the front for much of the race just to keep him close. This caused Wayne Tunks and Connor Williamson to lose contact. After 30 minutes Walker was back in the bunch. He’s strong but tactically limited in this early stage of his career. Muggeridge was just too fast in the sprint collecting the Drouin Cycles Vouchers with Rob Waddel in second. Then followed Nicole Summerfield and Macca Parkinson.