By Rob Monk
Warragul Cycling Club racing returned to the Cloverlea circuit for the first time in 2016. Cloverlea is a relatively flat circuit with often favours the sprinters but A and B grade were won by break away groups.
A super strong A grade field produced an attacking race. Tom McFarlane was allowed to dangle off the front for a lap as the rest of field swapped turns. After he was caught the ever combative Chris Joustra went up the road. He was joined by LVCC teammate Col Aitken, Warragul’s Brett Rollinson and Leongatha’s Harry Mclean. This quartet swapped turns for a lap and established a good break. Rollinson lost contact with the break before the bell lap and the locals were in trouble. Warragul road captain Matt Parkinson twice sent Brett Kennedy up to road to bridge across to the breakaway. Kennedy failed miserably and Parkinson was out of options. In the lead group the LVCC boys started to “one, two” McLean. Cycling is a cruel sport. Joustra would go up the road and Aitken would make McLean chase. As soon as Joustra was caught Aitken would go up the road and Joustra would make McLean chase. After a couple of repeats of this young Harry was cooked and Joustra was able to ride away for a hard fought victory. Joustra can’t sprint but he still wins plenty of races with his attacking style of racing. McLean was second with Aitken in third. The big crowd at the finish were then treated to a match sprint between two of the fastest riders in Gippsland. Danny Gaffa and Tom McFarlane went head to head and Gaffa beat him by a tyre.
B grade also resulted in a winning breakaway. After some early attacks from Simon Baxter and Rob Monk, then Graeme Parker and Gary Olsson, the field was whittled down. Fred DeCosta was first to go. Jason Dastey had advocated for weeks that he should be in B grade. After being dropped on Lap 2 it is clear that C grade is where he belongs. Jason Friztlaff also found the accelerations too much for his cramping calves. The defining move of the race happened at the start of Parkers Rd on the penultimate lap. Rob Monk and Gary Olson establish a small break that Col Brown and Roland Elsdon had to work very hard to close down. Graeme Parker immediately counter attacked after the catch. Monk was able to scramble across to him as was Baxter and this trio worked to establish a winning break. A trio of workers quickly turned to a duo as Baxter told the others he was too tired to help. This often happens in a breakaway so Monk and Parker did all the work for half a lap while Baxter sat on. There are two schools of thought about what should happen if a rider is too fatigued to help in the breakaway. The ethical rider’s handbook says if you have not been able to contribute as significantly as the other in the break you should not contest the sprint. The “win at all costs” school of thought says use up your breakaway companions, let them drag you to the line and then all of a sudden have enough energy to sprint. Baxter chose the “win at all costs” approach. Monk and Parker heard him say “Nah I can’t help” for most of the last lap but all of a sudden he had the energy to sprint. He took the unprincipled victory from Monk, with the strongest rider in the breakaway Graeme Parker unjustly consigned to third. Col Brown was forth with Neil Edwards fifth. Cycling is a sport that sometimes favours the duplicitous.
Ben Perry was the pre race favourite in C grade but visiting ex member Tex Walker would make it tough on him. Perry showed some strength early in the race but Tex was like a Jack Russel chasing him down and barking at him as well. Perry decided early on lap 2 that a sprint finish would be good for him so he sat on the back for the rest of the race and did nothing. Tex tried to encourage him to do some turns be Perry resisted his advances. Pace making was left to Tex, DeMac and Ross Henry. Mariah Dastey and Nicole Summerfield also did some pace making. In the home straight everyone was still there and a big bunch sprint was on the cards. A well rested Ben Perry came to the front 400 meters from home and he held off Tex and Ross Henry in a long grinding sprint. Nicole Summerfield was 4th and Zvonko Maric 5th.
Octogenarian Terry Kelly decided it was time to make use of his seniors discounted race licence. Terry shepherded the D grade bunch around for a couple of laps before letting them ride into the distance. He will be back next week if the weather is fine. Young Olly McLean was too quick in the finish for Dave Smith. Young Olly is making a habit of this and may need to be promoted. Snowy out sprinted Bruce Evanson for third place and Grace McLean was fifth overall.
Racing next week returns to Burke St on Sunday morning. Racers should enter online via the club website or facebook.
Ex Warragul Cycling Club Member Cyrus Monk won a Bronze Medal in the U23 OCEANIA ROAD CHAMPIONSHIPS race in Bendigo at the weekend. The 180k road race was contested in 37 degree heat on Saturday afternoon. Out of the 119 starters from Australia, New Zealand and Guam only 53 finished. Cy was 7th overall and 3rd in the U23 section.