Race reporter De Mac
A perfect morning for a bicycle race! Twenty-eight starters lined up, champing at the bit for the second handicap race of the season. In stark contrast to last Sunday, the morning was absolutely picture-perfect, with nary a hint of a breeze. Warragul was certainly turning it on for local and visiting riders alike.
Annie Pryjmak once again started the ball rolling in the Limit group and her day would certainly be easier without the wind that hindered her efforts last weekend.
Next to roll out was the bunch containing seasoned campaigners Snowy Cheyne, Graeme Patrick, Klaus Pozzebon, StKilda CC member, Paul Parlevliet and Peter McLean, the elder of the clan hailing from Leongatha.
The third bunch on the road included last week’s victor, Thomas Sandner, who was re-joined by Jarrod Croxford and additional companions Colin Brown, Ross Henry, Alan Timmer-Arends of Latrobe and new WCC racer, Daniel O’Shea.
Would Thomas do it again? Could he do it again? Only time would tell…
Bunch four contained both youth and experience; Ben Patrick teaming up with Aaron Nash, Peter MacDonald, Ryan MacGregor and Latrobe’s Mick Salerno. With a good mark, they would be hard to beat.
Chopping block was decked out with hardman riders, seeing the return of Daniel Bishop who accompanied Graeme Parker, Tex Walker, Big Jim of Latrobe and Tom Reid, who was certainly scrutinized by the handicapper after last week’s stellar performance.
The scratch bunch contained young guns, a seasoned campaigner in Leigh Hauxwell, as well as Baw Baw Cycles’ very own Sequioa Frahn, returning from a long time in the racing wilderness. Harry and Ollie McLean were teamed up with their CCCC Companeros team-mates, Alex Dunbar and Ben Leembruggen.
The first lap saw all bunches settle into smooth working groups, with Annie caught by second-limit going across the start-finish line and sitting on as they passed. As Annie’s race distance was four laps and not five, the group was encouraged to get a wriggle on!
The Sandner group lapped consistently and drew their prey in at a constant rate, which was mirrored by the Nash bunch, which picked up the pace as they rolled. Unfortunately, this paceline was unkind to first-time racer Dan O’Shea, seeing him out the back by lap three. He is as fit as a Mallee Bull, but the racecraft is yet to come – it will!
The big news story, however, was the chopping block bunch being driven by Australian Masters TT champion, Jim Timmer-Arends. This group was making up the most ground and as the race progressed, it became clear the cream would rise to the top and a winner would emerge from that group. This was confirmed by lap 3, as the Scratch bunch, which had reduced their initial mark by a minute, suddenly began to lose ground and their time differential increased markedly. This was caused by the combination of Big Jim’s huge efforts to drive his bunch forward and the Scratch bunch losing Harry McLean, who was still recovering from illness and didn’t have the miles in the legs. With five riders chasing six, it was only going to end in tears.
Into lap four and Big Jim’s bunch merged with the Nash bunch, which saw a jump in pace, resulting in the loss of Tex Walker and a couple of others were also dispatched. It was going to be on for young and old for the final lap, with Annie Pryjmak the sole rider left out in front, as the remaining chopping block riders reeled in their prey, coming into the final corner of the race. The tempo was so intense, that a number of second limit riders were swamped and couldn’t hold the wheel, as the combined bunch raced towards the finishing post, certain of victory.
What had been seemingly forgotten, however, was the fact that Annie hadn’t been caught. Yep, the others had ridden a strong race and thinking that all bunches, save for the depleted Scratch bunch, had merged, opted to sit up and collectively recover in preparation for the inevitable sprint finish. In doing so, they permitted Annie to roll across the line and take a fantastic solo win, with Daniel Bishop sprinting home for second place and fastest time, Graeme Parker in third, Ross Henry in fourth and Aaron Nash rounding out the top-five.
The club wishes to thank all participants, particularly the Latrobe, Leongatha, Carnegie-Caulfield and StKilda members who came down to visit and race in our bicycle-friendly shire.
WCC has a four-race criterium series commencing on Sunday 3rd February, at Endeavour Street and also reminds cyclists and friends that a free barbecue and season opening will be held at the Warragul Velodrome on Friday the 1st of February, at the conclusion of the HeraldSun Tour stage, which finishes in our fair town.
All are warmly invited to share in the celebration.