In racing news, a strong turnout of women stole the scene in D grade and for a change, balanced the gender books of the field. The bunch completed their first lap of the undulating 16km course together but was spurred into action on their second and final round. The long, slow climb out from Buln allowed newcomer Paul Kennedy, Terry Kelly, Bruce Mason and Steve Jackson to ride clear of the bunch, with in-form rider Glenda Pridmore chasing hard. Loretta Mackay and Brendan Pridmore retired early for a better finish-line vantage point, as Danielle Bennett showed great determination by fighting to keep in touch with the riders ahead of her. By the finish, Paul Kennedy’s climbing form was too much for Terry Kelly’s long racing break, and he cruised to victory with a 5 second margin. Bruce Mason finished third ahead of Geoff Gatt, with Glenda Pridmore first female home. She was followed by Lawrence Maskill and Danielle Bennett.
C grade also featured a strong lineup of riders, which started on-track with a solid climb up to Bloomsfields Road . Disaster struck for youngster Daniel deBlauw with a tumble into the gravel, and the pack waited for his okay and return to the bunch. However, a cut hand from the fall meant an early withdrawal for the junior, and he was joined by Sean Porter and Simon Baxter at the completion of lap one. Michael Pridmore was straight on the offensive at lap two, charging up the climb from Buln Buln. The field reacted to the move and remained in touch for most of the lap, until Luke Hanley initiated an attack up the final climb on the circuit. The effort had the chase strung out along Brandy Creek Road , and by the turn into Old Sale Road he had a small margin to defend. With a downhill finish, it was a tough call for Michael Pridmore and Paul Yeatman to chase down, and Luke crossed just ahead of the pack, followed by Michael Pridmore, Paul Yeatman, Trent Brown and Steve Hall.
The A and B grade fields were shaken up by the absence of Thomas Sandner and John Salton, with a few B grade regulars happy to fill the spaces in the A grade field. This left a small trio to contest B grade, which was made even smaller after the first hill when Ross Henry lost touch. Not content to contest a two-man finish, Chris Beales attacked Shane Stiles on Brandy Creek Road and established a gap that could not be contained by Stiles. The threesome continued to time trial the course, keeping an eye on the spacings between all riders. Despite his best efforts, Stiles could not regain the lost ground on Beales, and Chris finished the final lap with a one minute gap on Shane. They were followed shortly afterwards by Ross.
The A grade field welcomed Geoff Thomson, Brett Rollinson and Pete Finlayson to their ranks and despite some testing attacks from Rollinson and Jason Kruger, the pack stayed together over the first lap. The efforts from Rollinson proved costly on the long Brandy Creek Road climb and he struggled for a wheel and contact with the group. Chris Hunt took control of the group’s pace on the front, as Scott Keeble appeared less than fresh, choosing to sit on the back. The final lap saw Jason Kruger make another attempt for a breakaway but his effort was contained by hawk-eye Hunt. A bunch finish was inevitable. With speeds on the downhill run to the line in the vicinity of 70km/h, the big slog fest had all muscles searching for every power source. Scott Keeble’s freshness was the deciding factor, and he overcame the odds and the bunch to take out the win. He was followed by Pete Finlayson and Geoff Thomson.
Next week’s race will be held at Jindivick from 2pm.