by Jason Tubnor
The series win was up for grabs as riders contested the final race of the Parkinson’s Refrigerated Transport Handicap series. The scratch crew were denied last week and they would not be beaten again.
Donna Innes Wardell started first with 15 minutes start on scratch. Chasing her 3 minutes later was Col Manintveld. Col thought his chances of staying away from the chasers was pretty poor so he decided to join forces with Donna and see if they could stay away.
The 6 minute bunch of Col Brown, Connor Bagot, Simon Forbes and visitor Jamieson Gontier were working beautifully for the first 2 laps until their numbers were halved when both Connor and Jamieson punctured. Col and Simon pushed on to try and keep away from scratch.
The scratch bunch lacked a little cohesion from the beginning. Latrobe duo Paul Collins and Chris Joustra joined locals Rob Monk and Shane Stiles on scratch. Collins seemed to think the best way to ride a handicap was to drop your bunch at the start and ride off on your own. Once Joustra, Monk and Stiles stopped laughing they teamed to chase Collins down. Once he was caught Monk was useless and managed just one turn a lap on the downhill run along Sturs Rd per lap. Stiles skillfully let the Valley boys tow him around. Monk punctured on lap 3 and the scratch bunch probably were able to go faster as a result. They didn’t have to tow him along.
On lap 4 the three remaining scratch riders caught Col Brown and Simon Forbes. Col was able to hang on until the bell before being dropped.
Donna still led by 3 and a half minutes at the bell but the scratch group were catching quickly. They caught her Sturs Rd and then preceded to attack each other to fight for the win. Collins attacked first and Joustra, showing a rare level of tactical acumen made Stiles chase. Stiles did chase and Collins was caught by the turn into the finishing straight. Joustra thought he could accelerate but was mistaken. Stiles went past him like he was stuck to the road in the sprint to take the win. Joustra was second with Collins in third. Col Brown had done well to hang on for fourth and Donna Inness Wardell took a well deserved fifth place.
Shane Stiles won the series overall with Connor Bagot second and Chris Joustra third. Rob Monk was fourth and Donna Inness Wardell fifth.
Next week the club is holding a Gravel Grand fondo social ride. There are two options. One ride leaves at 8.30 from Darnum and a faster group leaves at 9.30 from Darnum as well. Both groups will cover the same course.