by Jason Tubnor
Warragul Cycling Club members combined with Latrobe City and Leongatha Cycling Clubs to contest the final race of the Warragul City Motors combine series on Saturday. The race started in cool but dry and windless conditions at Darnum.
The A grade race animated from the start when Latrobe City Duo Chris Joustra and Daniel Furmston got away. They toiled for two laps off the front. Shane Stiles eventually marshalled the troops to chase them down. With a lap to go Paul Collins got off the front and established a good lead before the bunches fourth and final ascent of the Shady Creek hill. This meant the pace for the chasers would be on. Furmston went full gas from the bottom and got across to Collins. Stiles strung out the rest of the field and Craig Taylor, Danny Gaffa and Glenn Marriott were dropped. With some frenetic chasing the managed to get back on by the top of Sturs Rd. Chris Jousta launched his inevitable series of late attacks but the other took it in turns to chase him back. Furmston was way too quick in the uphill sprint and took the win easily. Danny Gaffa may not be at the top of his form but he is still fast at the finish. He took second spot with Glenn Marriott in third. Craig Taylor was fourth and Joustra fifth.
Jayman Prestidge showed no regard for the rules of etiquette of racing and attacked in the neutral zone before the race had actually started. He was quickly caught. The race was run at a pedestrian pace for the first two laps. When Ollic McLean punctured on Lap 3 the non climbers breathed a sigh of relief. Jim Timmerarrends and Al McColloch pushed the pace on the hills and wanted to force the speed on the flat too. They had little help as renowned sit on sprinters Rob Monk, Jayman Prestidge, Graeme Parker and Darren Spiteri would not contribute to the pace making at all. The most dangerous break of the race was at the end of Lap 4. McLean, McColloch, Ryan McGregor and Pete Whelan establish a good gap. Big Jim finally got some help at the front as the gap increased. He didn’t need much help though as he single handedly pulled the race together on the final climb. From that moment on a sprint finish was inevitable. As predicted if was fought out by those who were freshest at the finish. Monk was first to go for home but Spiteri powered past him. Prestidge looked like he may be able to catch him but Spitsy was too quick. Spiteri first, Prestidge second and Monk third. Then followed the hardworking Al McColloch and Mark Mason.
As the 21-strong C Grade contingent, rolled through the neutral start, there was a feeling of anticipation and nervousness. The infamous Shady Creek climb is 1200 metres long at an average gradient of 5%. Many knew it would require a big effort to maintain their position in the field.
At the base of the climb, the nervousness hit fever pitch and the bunch shattered; the climbers rapidly moving away, with the sprinters tailed-off in their wake. At the first cresting of the hill, the bunch was led by the ever-improving Bryce Edhouse, Bairnsdale’s David Willowhite and club stalwart, Col Brown. Dropped riders, including Danny Dilger and Morgan Barnes, wound their motors into the red zone to re-join on the downhill section.
On lap two, Edhouse and Leongatha’s Kevin Feely attacked and leapt from the front, rounding the turn into Nilma-Shady Creek Road on their own. Sensing the danger, a scrambling peloton increased the pace earnestly and the catch was made at the base of the climb.
The second time up Shady Creek, again, saw a fracture in the peloton, with Duane McDonald and Colin Manintveld working together to bridge across the top, to the escapees, whilst Morgan Barnes leapt into the red zone and re-joined further up the road. Unfortunately, Danny Dilger threw a rod and was unable to get back across, ending his race.
Leigh Jamieseon attacked the bunch with a ferocity not seen prior to his purchase of a new aero bike and he leapt to a two hundred meter advantage. Jamieson was given a little more leverage by the group and his attack continued until halfway along the Shady Creek climb, where it was every rider for themselves, in a mad scramble. A crossing of wheels almost saw Leongatha’s Bernadette Fitzgerald take a fall, luckily, her track-handling skills enabled her to stay upright and she chased back on. Across the top, the climbers re-bunched and the pace was on. Duane McDonald was forced to chase back solo, whilst Barnes, Manintveld, Nicole Summerfield and CCCC’s Darren Weir added to the list of casualties.
Steve Muggeridge led the bunch along Sthur’s Road at a pace that discouraged any bold moves and it was all together for the next few kilometres, as a bunch sprint loomed. In the final 500 metres, Edhouse and Leongatha youngster, Thomas Fitzgerald broke for the line. The bunch responded and the order of march changed in quick succession, as riders faltered and were replaced at the front.
Bairnsdale rider, Justin Prior, proved too strong, taking the win over birthday-boy Col Brown, with Geoff Thomson rolling across in third place. Leongatha’s Michael Park and Warragul City Motors’ Shaun Donaldson, finished in fourth and fifth, respectively.
The small d grade field worked well together in the early laps. They did split up going up the hill with Peter Mclean and Kaleb Jans getting away from Nicole Summerfield. Chasing them was Felicity Waddell and Donna Innes-Wardell. Kaleb was just too quick for Pete in the sprint. Nicole was third, Felicity forth and Donna fifth.
In the Warragul City Motors series we had equal winners. Kaleb Jans (Leongatha) and Daniel Furmston (Latrobe City) were tied on 19 points. Darren Spiteri from Latrobe City was third. Peter McLean (Leongatha) was fourth and Geoff Thomson (Warragul) was fifth.
Club combine racing continues this week with the Gippsland three day tour.