The A Grade race was a story of young verse old. Young brothers Brenton, Mitchell and Jarrod Jones took to the start line with veteran racers Chris Joustra, Graeme Parker, George Tambassis, Brett Kennedy, Jason Fritzlaff and Jayman Prestidge.
The veterans were colluding pre-race start on how they could try and beat the young Jones brothers. Should they attack early and isolate Jarrod and Mitchell from their professional brother Brenton, or should they just sit on and try and go with the inevitable ‘steam train’ like attack when it happened.
Jayman Prestidge chose the former and got a gap on the first climb of the King Street hill. His strategy was to entice one of the Jones brothers into the break with him so the others would sit up and not chase. But after five laps burning valuable energy neither Jones brother was tempted. Instead the Jones boys wound back the deficit at the end of lap five and Jayman was brought back to the pack.
After a lap at a relatively moderate pace Brenton Jones and Chris Joustra created a small gap on the Wills Street rollers, and within a minute their lead was out to 200 metres.
At the 40 minute mark of the race Jarrod Jones attacked with a full head of steam on the King Street hill and commenced to bridge across to his brother. Seeing that he was only 100 metres back, his brother slowed Chris Joustra down so that Jarrod could get on board the train.
At this point the chasing veterans were in a do or die situation. They either worked together as a unified team to close the deficit or their race was over. But their ageing legs couldn’t bring the gap closer despite some solid turns from Brett Kennedy, Jason Fritzlaff and Jayman Prestidge. One thing that was apparent, was that the youngest Jones racer was not going to be helping to bring his two brothers back. He sat in at the back of the pack and rested his legs.
At the 50 minute mark the final link to the Jones train made his move on the third last lap up the King Street hill with a very strong attack by Mitch Jones. Once again, the steam train that is Brenton Jones dropped back from the lead break of Chris Joustra and Jarrod Jones when he saw his youngest brother trying to get across. He then dragged Mitchell back to the front and immediately picked up the pace of the front group to ensure the veterans following could not reconnect to contest for the victory.
With Mitchell taking the caboose role, the Jones train was complete. They stoked up the boilers with coal and went full steam ahead for the remaining laps, taking out the entire A Grade podium. Jarrod Jones in first place, Brenton Jones in second and Mitchell in third place. Chris Joustra time trialled in for fourth.
The remaining veterans had no chance at all when George Tambassis suffered a puncture with a lap to go. This left Jayman, Brett, Jason and Graeme to finish the race a minute back on the Jones lead steam train.
The B grade race started with Paul Yeatman taking off after the hills and driving the bunch along at a pedestrian pace for two laps. After that, Rob Monk decided to animate the race with a lap off the front. He was joined by Pete Whelan and the field was strung out and in the red zone chasing them down.
Glenn Marriott had conserved energy in the chase and as soon as Timmer Arrends had caught the breakaway Marriott attacked fours laps into it.. He took off up the King St hill and when big Jim jumped across on the downhill, it was danger time for the chasers. Big Jim went full steam ahead from that point on and Marriott did well just to hang on and contribute a little on the Hill each lap. THe first break away lap saw the chase bunch ride at 40kph. This was not enough to pull back Big Jim who can ITT at 42-44kph.
Connor Bagot tried to jump across to them on the next time up the hill but he didn’t make it. Yeatman tried some chasing but could only manage 38kph.
The race situation was now two riders off the front with seven chasers. Weight of numbers should always see the chasing group prevail but only if the chase is coordinated and everyone does as much as they can.
As is often the case in cycling a cohesive chase never eventuated. Rob Monk was keen and did the lion’s share of work for the next 30 minutes at times doing stints of 41kph. Pete McDonald chimed in regularly but seemed to tired of the task easily. Yeatman, Whelan and Bagot seemed keen on saving themselves so they had enough energy to fight for third place rather than committing everything to the chase and the chance of actually winning the race. Yeatman definately pulled the pin 45 minutes into the race when the breakaway was out of sight by then time they’s crested the ride past the church.
Roland Elsdon came good with 15 minutes to race and started to contribute strongly. Protected rider Jason Dastey did nothing.
Marriott and Timmer Arrends maintained their break and eventually went away to contest the major prize. Marriott had been towed around by Jim for the majority of the race and did the honorable thing and let Jim have the sprint. Marriott was second.
Paul Yeatman achieved his aim of coming third. Big deal. If he’d have contributed to the chase more he was a chance of winning the race and the series. Monk was fourth and Bagot fifth. (ed. Aka PY: the break away pulled away from lap 5 and kept going. There was no point spending energy to chase).
The C Grade race was looking to be a one-sided affair, with in-form Ross Henry, as well as Bryce Edhouse and up and comer, Jacob de Klerk, always going to push the rest of the bunch, particularly up the King St hill.
Col Brown was slightly out of sorts and certainly rode well, but couldn’t make a lasting impression on the race. Shell Scurr, in her return to WCC racing after a period of track-specific riding, was very strong, holding her own and apparently doing it easy. This was not quite the case for De Mac and Danny Dilger, who were required to pull almost superhuman feats to contain the whippets, on each and every lap into King St.
The race started off at adagio pace, but after a handful of laps, de Klerk flew off the front of the bunch up King St, with the others struggling to maintain an ever-widening gap, with every pedal stroke. When the bunch came together at the top of the rise, Edhouse kicked hard and drilled it for an entire lap, with Dilger and Bruce Evanson the unfortunate victims of this B-Grade-esque pace, being dropped and taking no further part in the race.
Zvonko Maric was ever-present, but couldn’t influence the race beyond using his strength to close the commonly opening gaps behind de Klerk and Edhouse. The reduced bunch continued to lap the course, again, with de Klerk stretching them on the hills and Edhouse doing his best to shake the rest loose.
All was in vain, however, as it again settled in for a sprint finish. It was de Klerk who jumped first, with the other riders winding it up, slowly but surely, like diesel engines, Brown seemed to hit the rev-limiter early, as did De Mac and the pace proved too fast for Scurr, who hung on valiantly, but did not figure in the deciding push.
Jacob de Klerk was first over the line and with that win, he secured enough series points to take the win – his mother will be very happy, as she’ll have the cleanest floors in Warragul for Christmas! Second past the post was a very strongly finishing Ross Henry, with steam-train Edhouse taking third place, his sprint improving each week.