Race reporter De Mac
The first race of the 2019 season had twenty starters who experienced galeforce winds for five laps around the fantastic Darnum circuit. The Handicap format would prove optimal for some, less so for others.
The Limit group consisted of solo rider, Annie Pryjmak, who is always keen to race, but needs a few companions to share the load – a note to the local women – get on board!
The second group on the road included Thomas Sandner, whose latent form appeared to surface on the Team DSR ride the previous day. Both he and Jarrod Croxford would have to work hard with one another to keep the chasers at bay, as the easterly wind was howling by the commencement of the race.
The third group, which had five minutes to make up, had with it some experience and youth, including rapidly improving Aaron Nash and Tom Reid, stalwarts Mark Mason and Peter MacDonald, with the Captain on the Road, Ross Henry rounding out that workmanlike group. On paper, they certainly looked to be the winning bunch. Chopping block was comprised of a few very strong riders and a couple who were simply off their game, with Rob Monk battling some nether issues and George Tambassis, seemingly, borrowing one of his wife’s jerseys for the ride – it was bright!
The Scratch bunch contained a few heavy hitters, including Stiles, Furmston, Collins and Skinner. The race started in earnest, with the Scratch bunch absolutely hammering the initial lap, taking a minute straight off Chopping Block, which unfortunately, saw Kenny dispatched by the football club driveway and Tex Walker suffering the same fate by the end of the lap.
The race settled into one of attrition over the next four laps, Sandner and Croxford maintaining a steady, brisk pace, mirrored by the Nash bunch, however, Scratch and Chopping block began to lose riders, first it was Tambassis, then Aitken, as the strong winds and frenetic pace took their toll. Another lap saw Mason’s day over and with two laps to go, Sandner and Croxford were looking good, whilst Annie was rolling well and still had a chance to snatch victory.
Into the bell lap and Sandner decided he’d solo away and head for glory, dropping Croxford as they passed Fonterra. Meanwhile, the bunch led by Nash were rolling solid turns and seemed unflappable, albeit, a full minute in arrears of the lead rider. Scratch and Chopping block had merged, which saw Parker fall away by the last pinch and crossing the start/finish line, they had the work to do, with two minutes to close down in 8 Kilometres – could they do it?
Unfortunately, their ambitions were blown over by the 40Kph winds, with the final lap seeing splits, blow-ups and choice language employed – all to no avail. Thomas Sandner sped across the line for a solid victory, followed shortly thereafter by Tom Reid, who was the sole rider of his group with the ability to hang on to the Scratch bullet train as it passed all others along Stuhr’s Road. Craig Skinner of Latrobe came in third and with fastest time, whilst Hauxwell and Stiles rounded out the top-five. Annie Pryjmak rolled in a very creditable sixth and the others, well, they simply ran out of breath.
Next Sunday Warragul CC will stage the second handicap around the same course, with registration at 0830, from the Darnum Stump. With plenty away in Adelaide, the opportunity exists for another rider to etch their name into the record books!