by Rob Monk
Last week’s Handicapper was sacked. This week Shane Stiles took over the handicaps. Last week it was limit; first away, the slowest riders who won the day. This week it was scratch who got up. The fast men had a win.
The intention was to set the groups off in threes with small time gaps between them. This encourages the groups to work hard to catch those in front before being caught from behind. It then becomes a battle of six against three and the group with six has a big advantage on a group of three. Stiles hadn’t explained the physics of this to the riders though. Bike riders are not notorious for their brainpower. Group after group decided to wait for the stronger riders behind, rather than strive to catch those in front. This dumb strategy ultimately played into the scratch groups hands.
First away with 10 mins on scratch were Matt Williamson, Zvonko Maric and Mariah Dastey. They combined well and were not caught by the 8 minute bunch of Pete Finlayson, and Neil Edwards for two laps. The seven minute group of Scott Keeble, Gary Ollson and Daniel Bishop combined with the 10 and 8 minute group on lap three picked up the pace well.
Jason Fritzlaff’s two teammates didn’t front, so he had to ride on his own and wait for the 5 minute group of Tex Walker, Col Brown and Jimmy Lalor. He had to wait awhile as this trio had decided to wait for the four minute group of Pete Whelan, Matt Malacarne and Dan Willis. Why they waited one will never know? They are given a handicap because they need it and choosing to give it back defies logic.
Rob Monk was dealt a harsh blow by the handicapper being matched with Jayman “The Blancmange” Prestidge and George “Crystal Cranks” Tambassis. When both of them didn’t turn up Monk commented that it made no difference as neither would have helped anyone anyway.
Monk, riding alone, was caught midway through Lap 1 by Graeme Parker, Leigh Hauxwell and Glenn Marriott. Despite Marriott’s attempts at working with the bunch he mainly retarded their momentum and when they were caught by the rampaging scratch men on Lap 3, Glen called it a day. Not before time.
Brett Rollinson, Brett Kennedy and Jim Timmer-arrends were caught early on lap 2 by the scratch group of Matt Parkinson, Shane Stiles and Brenton Jones who were flying. Brenton’s last professional race was less than a month ago where he won two stages of the Tour of Korea. It is a unique aspect of cycling that a professional rider can come back and do a club race any time they like. Warragul Club Members always enjoy the experience of racing against of resident professional riders.
Jones was towing the scratch group around at record speed. Monk and Hauxwell were the only riders in their bunch able to hang onto the BJ train as it came past and soon after Matt Parkinson said goodbye as the relentless pace took its toll.
Nearing the end of lap 4 the scratch group had all of the outmarkers in sight. They caught them at the bell and then the race began in earnest. Jones pick up the pace past the Darnum Footy ground and a single line of 20 riders were chewing the stem to hang on. In this situation someone invariably cracks and lets the wheel go. In this case it was Big Jim who first cried “no more” and let a gap open. Leigh Hauxwell was the only rider behind Jim to react quickly enough. He got across the gap before it got too big. Pete Whelan and Matt Malacarne tried valiantly to bridge the gap but failed. Dan Willis made it across in a move that did not escape notice. He will be handicapped more harshly next week. The group of twenty split into a lead group of five consisting of Jones, Stiles, Rollinson, Hauxwell and Willis. A chase group of Monk, Timmer-arrends, Whelan, Malacarne, Walker and Olsson gapped the rest of the field who were dropped.
The lead group of five rode away and BJ was too good for Stiles in the sprint finish. The hard working Brett Rollinson finished third. Then followed Leigh Haxwell and Dan Willis. A minute later Rob Monk won the sprint for sixth from Glen Walker, Pete Whelan and Gary Ollson.
Our next race is race Two of the Friday Night Lights CX Series. The race starts at 7.00pm at the Warragul Velodrome on Friday 15th of July. For anyone who has not seen a CX (Cyclo-cross) race we encourage you to come down and have a look. It is a great spectator sport with many thrills and spills. CX is a cross between mountain bike racing and track racing with some BMX element thrown in. Bring a drink and come down to the Velodrome on Friday night to experience CX racing. Entry is free and all are welcome.