by Rob Monk
Warragul Cycling Club members braved mid winter like conditions at Shady Creek to contest the Club Road Championships on Saturday. Wind, rain, cold and a tough 84km race meant the winner would rightly be crowned the Club Champion.
The race 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. Twenty three riders started, taking on 4 laps of the 21km long Shady Creek Darnum circuit.
The race started with a futile attack from Jayman Prestidge(M123). He seems to do it every year. Mariah Dastey and Paul Rowse followed him. The rest of the field enjoyed a warm up while he tired himself out. Prestidge and crew were caught midway through lap one and visiting rider Chris Joustra was next to go off the front. He was allowed to dangle till the top of the Shady hill on lap two.
The bunch was intact with the exception of Jimmy Lalor, Paul Yeatman, Connor Bagot and Robin Baker. Jimmy took a skilful shortcut on Sturs Rd and rejoined the lead bunch.
Will Lumby punctured and also managed to rejoin.
The first big attack of the race happened going past the Darnum Football ground on Lap 2. Heart were racing and Steve Muggeridge, Glen Walker and Jayman Prestidge lost contact with the leaders. Muggeridge fought back with the help of Jason Dastey. Prestidge amazingly rejoined the bunch after sitting on the back of a car for a few kilometres.
Josh Akarsu went off the front before the third ascent of Shady creek but was caught half way up the climb and went straight out the back. Prestidge, Jason Dastey and Jason Fritzlaf were dropped on the climb but again the spirit of Henry Ford appeared and towed them back on to the main group.
Brett Kennedy put it in the gutter in the strong cross wind near the Darnum Milk Factory. Rounding the bend it was clear that the major selection of the race was about to occur. Brett Rollinson, Jayden Manintveld and Matt Parkinson put the power down past the football ground and riders began of go out the back. George Tambassis was well positioned and stuck with the leaders. Youngster Mitch Jones also managed to hang on as did Chris Joustra. Brett Kennedy was last to jump the gap and Rob Monk shamelessly wheel sucked across the gap with him. He refused to help Kennedy close the cap. This lead group of 8 riders cooperated well for a few kilometres, even Monk did a turn and they eliminated any hope for the rest of the field.
When Kennedy punctured there were only 6 riders left who could win the Club Champs. Parkinson, Manintveld and Rollinson made short work of eliminating three of the six. They dropped Monk, Tambassis and Jones on the final climb and raced away on the decent.
Manintveld put in a solo attack and Parkinson encouraged the others to let him toil solo for awhile. He was caught 4 km from the finish. Joustra went next but his break was short lived. He then led the locals out in the sprint. Rollinson was first to go for broke but when Manintveld jumped he put four lengths into Parkinson and held it to the line. Jayden won his first club championship. Matt Parkinson was second and also is the winner of the Masters 123 title. Brett Rollinson (M123) finished third with Chris Joustra in fourth.
George Tambassis and Rob Monk combined for most of the final lap to stay away and contest the M4+ championship. George was too strong and is the M4+ Club Champion. Rob was second. Rounding out the top 10 were Mitch Jones (J19), Jason Fritzlaff (M123), Jason Dastey (M123) and 10th Paul Rowse (M4+).
Mariah Dastey was the Women’s Champion and Robyn Baker the Womans M4+ Champion.
Well done to all who competed in trying conditions.
Next week we begin the 6 Race Warragul City Motors Criterium Series on the Burke St Circuit starting at 2.00 pm.