In near perfect conditions 23 riders contested a handicap over 3 laps of the Shady Creek circuit. To win a handicap riders must be absolutely committed to two simple goals. One: don’t let the group behind catch you and two: catch the groups in front. You cannot be successful in a handicaps unless you do both. Two simple objectives should be comprehensible even to the dullest intellect but alas on Saturday many in the field found intricacy where simplicity should have held sway.
First away was Donna Innes-Wardel with 27 minutes on scratch. She was pursued by John “Captain Mainwaring” Van Heuven having his first race. John was teamed with Macca Parkinson and 11 Year Old Heath Foster. Heath Foster completed 2 of the 3 laps and rode strongly. Macca and John worked well together and were only caught on the hill on lap three.
With 15 minutes start on scratch the pair of Matt Williamson and Hayden Johnson soon combined with the 12 minute group of Richard Bridge, Zvonko Maric, John Taylor and Jason Tubnor. They caught those in front quickly and only John Taylor was shed from the co-ordinated efforts to avoid capture from behind.
The 6 minute bunch of Geoff Thomson, Pete Whelan and Jason Dastey lacked cohesion and were caught quickly by the 4 minute quartet of George Tambassis, Patrick Brett, Pete Finlayson and Lachlan Clarke. With 2 minutes on scratch Rob Monk, Brett Kennedy and Graeme Parker would have to be on their game to stay away from the scratch men Shane Stiles, Matt Parkinson and Brett Rollinson.
Monk, Kennedy and Parker teamed well on lap one and had the combined four and six minute bunches in sight early on lap 2. The scratch men were carrying Rollinson a little but Brett was able to help on the flats.
When Monk, Kennedy and Parker caught bunches in front at the top of Sturs Rd at the beginning of lap two, a group of 10 riders working together should would have been favoured to catch those in front. Monk and Parker were keen to get everyone rolling though. Kennedy seemed unwilling to work, Tambassis developed a reluctance to embrace the fresh air at the front of the bunch. Whelan would surge though periodically. Thommo was nowhere to be seen. Dastey was missing. Monk shouted encouragement, “Come on lads, let’s all work together and we will catch those in front” or words to that effect. Patrick and Clarke interpreted “work together” as attack the bunch. They got 50 meters off the front with Whelan locked on their wheel. Finally some reluctant participants gave Monk and Parker a hand to slowly bring them back.
The futile attacks and surges meant the Tubnor led 12 minute bunch still held a good lead at the bell. Parker decided to set a tempo up the final climb so the chase group would lose no riders. Again young Patrick Brett had other ideas and launched another futile attack. Thankfully no-one was even tempted to follow and Brett was caught by the bottom of the decent.
The chase bunch still lacked cohesion and even though the group up the road were in sight riders would still not fully commit to the chase. Parker, Monk and Clarke gave it their all but others seemed reluctant to commit.
Kennedy seemed more interested in offering advice to the juniors than doing a turn of pace making. Tambassis seemed intent on being fresh for the sprint for 6th which is all he would sprint for unless the catch was made. Entering the home straight the Tubnor group was a tantalizing 500 meters in front. With 2 hard turns each from the chasers they could still be caught.
That didn’t happen though as all of a sudden, Kennedy, Tambassis, Thomson and Patrick, who hadn’t had enough energy to contribute much to the pace making for the last 5 kilometres, discovered the energy to attack the bunch and go in search of individual glory. They blew up after 400 meters ending any chance the chasers would catch and ensuring the Tubnor group would sprint for victory.
Jason Tubnor led out a little early and Matt Williamson just passed him in the sprint to take a well-deserved victory. Third was Haydn Johnstone and then followed Zvonko Maric and Richard Bridge who took the final prize money for 5th.
Less than 10 seconds later the first of the disorganized rabble that should have contested the major prize bickered over a worthless 6th place.
1st Matt Williamson 15 mins
2nd Jason Tubnor 12 mins
3rd Haydn Johnstone 15 mins
4th Zvonko Maric 12 mins
5th Richard Bridge 12 mins.
Fastest time: Shane Stiles.
Racing returns in 2 weeks with the Voyage Fitness Handicap Series. These races are short between 40 and 48km and you don’t need to be super fit or super fast to race a handicap. Handicaps are the best way to start racing and to encourage you the Warragul Cycling Club is offering to pay for your race license for your first 3 races. Get some friends together and come and try racing. Check out the WCC facebook page or website for details.