written by DeMac with input from Jason Tubnor
Fourteen brave souls ventured out to Darnum on Saturday morning to contest the Warragul Cycling Club handicap. With a large number of members up in Mansfield, it was an open contest, with no-one prepared to hazard a guess as to who would be victorious. The mercury hovered around 7 degrees Celsius; with riders looking more like they were heading out for a day in the Pyrenees and not West Gippsland. Once the handicaps were sorted, the limit group, containing Kerryn Milner, Bruce Staben and Glenn Walker headed off, with Walker riding hard out of the blocks, quickly establishing a sizeable gap. Next off were Richard Bridge and Rob Waddell, who knew they’d have their work cut out for them, as they were to be chased by a strong group of three; containing Jason Tubnor, Paul Rowse and newcomer, Duncan Hamilton, who, despite insisting he was in the midst of a recent form slump, appeared fighting fit. Next off was young gun Cody Orgill who rolled out with Peter Bailey. Bailey came in quietly confident, off the back of a solid performance last weekend. Collin Brown and Neil Edwards made up chopping block, whilst Graeme Parker paired with Brett Kennedy off Scratch.
Handicap based racing has always been about numbers and smooth riding, although I’d hasten to add, it’s more about strategy and discipline. The strongest group of Tubnor, Rowse and Hamilton were always at an advantage; however, Rowse quickly overcooked himself outside Fonterra on the second lap. Tubnor, recalling the outcome of the last do or die handicap, sat up and ensured that group cohesion was maintained. This group rolled well-orchestrated turns throughout, confirming that three riders are better than two when trying to reel in the front bunches.
Into the third lap and it wasn’t long before Parker and Kennedy caught Brown and Edwards, who then quietly pounced upon Orgill and Bailey, although, it appeared that only a couple of those riders were able to continue the push, with the others climbing aboard as passengers. Kennedy then conspired with Parker to attack their bunch on the last lap to dislodge the passengers.
Up the road, Tubnor, Rowse and Hamilton closed the gap to Bridge and Waddell, with that group eventually overtaking Staben and Millner, who were gallant in their attempt at hanging on, albeit, to no avail. All the while, Walker continued to put the hammer down solo, buoyed by the tantalising smell of victory.
Into the bell lap, Walker held a half minute lead to his pursuers, but this was being closed rapidly by the fast moving bunch. He was eventually caught on the final punchy climb, whilst Tubnor floundered, briefly, before finding the strength to re-join the pursuers. Into the final corner, all four were together; when Walker laid it all on the line and sprinted, only to run out of puff one hundred metres from the finish. At that moment, Hamilton, then Rowse and finally, Tubnor, unfurled their spinnakers and sprinted for the line, with Tubnor proving too strong and celebrating a hard fought victory. Hamilton and Rowse rounded out the podium, with second and third places, respectively. Walker rolled across the line with heavy heart, lamenting upon the maiden victory that vanished before his eyes. Graeme Parker proved too strong in the bunch kick to lead the chasing group home about a miunte behind the winnng group and took out fastest time, whilst Kerryn Milner rolled in as first female finisher. Next week is the final race of the Summer season, commencing at 2pm at the Labertouche Hall. The Kermesse will be followed by a BBQ. We hope you can join us.
Thanks to the volunteers today, De Mac & Pete O’Donell
Next weeks volunteers are: George Tambasis race day coordinator, Micheal Blackwood & Brett Patrick corner marshalls & Colin Brown on trailer duty.