By Rob Monk
Normally club championships are taken out by someone with well known lead up form. The pundits at the Warragul cycling Club were predicting a battle between Jarryd Jones, Leigh Hauxwell and Matt Parkinson in the club road championships on Saturday. With Brenton Jones racing in China, Cyrus Monk competing in the Grafton to Inverell and James Henry time trialling at Burrumbeet the club title was an open affair.
But when the members list was downloaded from the internet a name in the elite section that no-one knew was present. Pre race the unknown rider signed in. Chris Tassell’s name was on the membership list but no-one had met him before. He looked fit but surely he could not take out the club championship in his first race with the club.
The race this year was a mass start format which meant everyone started together. Club championships are also made interesting by the races within the race. The first finisher in the race would be the club champion but there were separate titles of the first Masters rider in the 30 to 45 years old category (M123) and another for the first over 45 year old rider (M4+) to finish. There is also a title for the Female club champion.
The race started with a futile attack from Jayman Prestidge and Jason Dastey. These two aging warriors, who’s best races are well behind them, tried to get over the Shady Creek hill the first time without being dropped. A breakaway was their only hope. They failed and were caught easily. Shane Stiles and Pete Whelan and Paul Rowse did succeed in getting up the road in what would eventually prove to be very fortuitous for them.
Perhaps the key moment of the race occurred when first time open rider Chris Tassell didn’t make the left turn into Nilma Shady Creek Road. At that point the bunch decided to wait for him to let him get back on. This meant the break got half way up the hill and gave Leigh Hauxwell and Matt Parkinson something to chase.
Chase they did. After one of the quickest recorded assents of the Shady Creek climb half the field was gone and everyone else seemed to be in the red zone. Everyone except Tassell. He took off near the top of the hill and only Shane Stiles could go with him as he’d had and easier trip up the hill after being in the early break. Stiles and Tassell swapped turns for the remainder of lap one and the first half of lap two before Chris said goodbye to Shane on the hill and rode off into the distance. Chris did thank Shane for the directions after the race.
At one stage Chris’s lead was such that many thought he must have taken another wrong turn. He was that far up the road he was out of sight. Matt Parkinson, Leigh Hauxwell and Glen Marriott seemed undecided in whether they should chase for a chance at the open title or sit up and just contest the M123 race. In the end they did a bit of both meaning they would win neither.
Brett Kennedy had other ideas. After the max heart rate effort up the climb on lap one Kennedy went into “sit and sprint” mode for the remainder of the race. Smart thinking by Brett: something he is not renowned for (that’s a bit harsh – Ed.).
Pre race favourite Jarryd Jones was a little slow to get on the front and help with the pacemaking but when he did Tassel did actually come back into view.
Hauxwell managed to drop Simon Baxter on lap 2 up the hill and then unseat Rob Monk, Shane Stiles and Paul Rowse on lap three. This meant a select group of 10 riders would contest the finish.
Tassell was clearly too good and went on to win convincingly by over a minute. His first ride with the club and he is the club champion. In the sprint for second a well rested Brett Kennedy was too quick. The other speedsters in the bunch, Matt Parkinson and Jarryd Jones had tried to chase the winner down whereas Kennedy was happy to conserve his energy and take out the M123 title. In third place was Glenn Marriott. Glen was also 2nd in M123 and Leigh Hauxwell was third in M123.
The M4+ section is more a wheel sucking contest than a race in this mass start format. Whichever old guy can hang onto the young guys the longest will triumph. The winner of this was Graeme Parker with George Tambassis in second and Pete Whelan in third.
Mariah Dastey and Nicole Summerfield battled out the women’s championship. Nicole opened a gap in the sprint by going early and managed to just hold off a fast finishing Mariah Dastey. Adele Whelan was a few seconds back in third place.
1st Chris Tassell
2nd Brett Kennedy
3rd Glenn Marriott
1st Brett Kennedy
2nd Glen Marriott
3rd Leigh Hauxwell
1st Graeme Parker
2nd George Tambassis
3rd Pete Whelan
1st Nicole Summerfield
2nd Mariah Dastey
3rd Adele Whelan
The championship races continue next week with the individual time trial championships at the Darnum Circuit. First rider will be off at 2.00pm. Riders will do 3 laps of the 8km circuit. Who will win the race of truth? Last year, the winning average speeds were:
Junior (woman): 29.9kph
If Tassell turns up my money is on him.
Anyone can race the ITT. Only club members can take the trophies.