By Rob Monk
The fourth race of the Voyage Handicap Series ended in controversy on Saturday. Luckily the series winner had a clear lead so a protest was not required. Handicap racing brings out the worst in some riders. They continually gripe that they have not got enough time, or enough riders in their group. They want to be in a slower group or want another minute on scratch. Prerace on Saturday the whiners were out in force. As the race unfolded though, the handicaps were nearly perfect with all groups coming together in the final 2 kilometres.
There were 6 riders on scratch but they were a mixed bunch in terms of their preparation. Cyrus Monk had warmed up by riding to Tanjil Bren and back; 150k before the race. He is in training for next week’s Melbourne to Warrnambool race, so thought he needed the miles. Shane Stiles, Brett Kennedy and Matt Parkinson were suffering from self inflected wounds following excessive efforts to hydrate for the race on Friday night. Parkinson lasted a lap and a half before acute alcohol toxicity took its toll and he was forced to retire. Stiles and Kennedy were next to useless for most of the race. This left Cyrus, Leigh Hauxwell and Graeme Parker to do the majority of the chasing.
The 5 riders in the 2.5 minute bunch worked 15 second track turns for the first 3 laps and looked likely to hold off the hungover scratch bunch. Rob Monk, Glenn Marriott, Pete Finlayson, Pete Whelan and Roland Elstrom teamed well for most of the race. Finlayson lost contact on lap 4 in what looked to be a not to subtle attempt at getting a better handicap for next week’s Tim McArdle race.
The pre race whining from Geoff Thomson and Jason Tubnor didn’t slow them down. Their generous 6 minute head start on scratch should have been plenty. Unfortunately the third member of their group, Jayman Prestidge, seemed to be suffering from the same illness that befell Parkinson, Stiles and Kennedy. He was dropped on lap 2 and did not finish the race.
The best ride of the day was from the 8 minute trio of Richard Bridge, Nicole Summerfield and Craig Taylor. Nicole and Craig were not caught until 3km to the finish.
John Beech, Rod Cheyne and John Taylor had been riding brilliantly in the earlier racers but without the leadership of big DeMac who was ill, genuinely rather than self inflicted, they seemed to have lost some firepower. They were caught by Nicole and Craig early on and could not stay with them.
The same was the situation with the 12 and a half minute limit group of series leader Macca Parkinson, Kerryn Milner, Adele Whelan and Sue Elsdon. The ladies struggled to stay together on the hills and when Nicole and Craig came past they couldn’t hold on to them.
The controversy of the day occurred on lap 3 when Cyrus Monk broke a spoke and Shane Stiles gave him a wheel. Cy took a lap and half to catch back up to the rest of the scratch group. Stiles rode back to the start finish line got another wheel and then rejoined the scratch bunch for the bell. He was well rested and assisted scratch catching all the outmarkers by the butter factory on the final lap. Last to be caught was Donna Innes Wardell. Donna had ridden most of her four laps on her own was caught with less than a kilometre to the finish.
Pete Whelan put in a late attack but Cyrus was able to cover it easily. In the sprint the tireless Glynn Marriott led out the field. Cyrus, despite approaching the 200k mark for the day won the sprint convincingly from Craig Taylor and Leigh Hauxwell. Brett Kennedy had sobered up enough to take fourth from Geoff Thomson in fifth.
Despite a protest that scratch had broken two rules, Cyrus had received assistance from another rider and Stiles had not completed the race and should not have been able to rejoin race director Neil Edwards said the placing would stand. His reasoning was the mechanical mishap had hindered not helped Cyrus.
Macca Parkinson was the winner of the 4 weeks series and she wins a 6 month membership to Voyage fitness.
Next week’s race is the Tim McArdle Handicap. All riders must register online before Friday.
- Cyrus Monk
- Craig Taylor
- Leigh Hauxwell
- Brett Kennedy
- Geoff Thomson