By Rob Monk
A handicapper regards “getting it right” when all the groups come together within the final 1km of the race. Handicapper Rob Monk was pleased with his work on Sunday as the race nearly came together at the finish.
The limit bunch of 5 had 18 minutes head start on scratch. Adele Whelan tried to help out early but was dropped on lap one. John Davine only lasted until midway through lap 2 but Snowy, Grace McLean and Robyn Baker were making great time.
With 10 minutes on scratch the group of Mairah Dastey, Rachel Kimber, Leigh Jamieson, Nicole Summerfield, Pete Bailey and Zvonko Maric were lapping well. They would not be caught until they turned into Parkers Rd on their final lap.
The Chopping block group of Jayman Prestidge, Rob Monk, George Tambassis, Roland Elsdon, Matt Malacarne, Josh Akarsu, Pete Whelan and Graeme Parker teamed brilliantly for the first two and a half laps. Even crystal cranks Tambassis was peddling hard. Handicapper Monk knew if his group averaged over 38 km/h the scratch men would struggle to catch them. After two laps they were averaging close to 40km/h and they had the group who started 6 minutes in front of scratch well within reach.
They caught them midway through lap three and things then went astray. Monk had done the sums and knew they would not be caught from behind. He banked on the combined group of 16 riders catching all in front. He decided to stop working.
When a rider in a handicap stops working his inactivity spreads like a cancer through the bunch. It infected all, except Roland and Malacarne but even they eventually tired of working while more and more of their group sat on. By lap 4 the number of passengers outweighed the number of workers and the race had swung in favor or the outmarkers. The combined chopping block and six minute groups reeled in the 10 minute bunch as they turned in Parkers Rd for the final time. The limit riders were still up the road.
Monk, Akursu and Walker had done nothing for a lap and now were trying to decide if scratch would catch the rabble of a bunch that their sitting on had caused. Eventually Josh talked Monk into doing something. They went off the front near the end of Parkers Rd. The impressive Ollie McLean from the 10 minute bunch joined them. Young Ollie pedals like a thrashing machine but he can really go. They strung out the bunch and had the limit riders within 200 meters at the finish. It was too little too late. As is often the case with handicaps the chasers were left thinking, “We should have gone harder.”
Snowy had driven the limit bunch hard and managed to keep Robyn Baker and Grace McLean with him till the finish. He tried to drop Grace rounding the home turn but she was having none of that. She clung to his wheel and powered by him in the sprint to take the victory. Snowy was second with Grace in third.
Graeme Parker won the bunch sprint for fourth from Geoff Thompson. Thommo, looking like a hybrid of Santa Claus and Grizzly Adams, was back for his first race of the year and has lost none of his guile. He hadn’t put his nose in the wind since the chopping block group caught them half way though lap 3. Then followed Ollie McLean and Jason Dastey.
The scratch bunch finished less than 200 meters behind. They had chased hard and averaged over 41km/h for the race but could not catch any of the bunches in front. Jayden Manintveld won the sprint for fastest time from Brett Kennedy. Tom McFarlane was voted strongest in the scratch bunch and Glynn Marriott the weakest.
Next week’s race is at Burke St on Saturday afternoon at 2.00pm.
On Sunday, we host the Baw Baw Classic, starting in graded waves at 10am from the Arts Centre. This is round 3 of the Victorian Road Series and several of our members are testing their legs in the gruelling race.