By Rob Monk
Warragul Cycling Club riders dominated the ANZAC day Autumn Classic, the Stratford to Bairnsdale race. A big field of 58 riders from all over Gippsland contested the race. Warragul Riders took the win in 3 out of the 4 grades.
In A grade Warragul Riders filled the entire Podium. A break formed early in the race featuring Warragul Trio, Brenton Jones, Cy Monk and Jayden Manintveld. With them were Tom Deller from Bairnsdale, Craig Kean and Chris Webb from Wellington and Brett Van Berkel from Latrobe Valley. This group took time out the large chasing field. Cy launched a few attacks near the finish but Jones was able to shut them down each time. In the sprint BJ was too strong. Cy was second with Jayden in third.
In B grade Warragul riders Rob Monk, Pete Whelan and Matt Parkinson were in the winning break of 8 riders who got away on the hills mid race. Monk and Whelan lost contact in the run to the finish and Parkinson was just passed near the line when he led out the final sprint. He finished third.
Col Brown took out C grade by nearly 5 minutes in a very strong ride. Roger Bell won the bunch sprint for second from Shane Wakker.
Ben Stein was too strong for the D graders in the bunch sprint and also took the win. Viki Bell was the first female finisher in D grade.
Thirty five riders turned out for the club race on Saturday. A grade was strengthened by the arrival of 5 riders from the Zoom Video team. Team leader Nick Young showed the locals how to ride a breakaway. He took off on Sturs Rd on lap 3 and soloed for a lap and a half to take the win. Jayden Manintveld is getting stronger each race and finished second from an exhausted Graeme Parker.
A field of 13 contested B Grade. Jason Dastey and Pete Whelan escaped for nearly all of lap one before being reeled in. Jayman Prestidge was allowed to dangle off the front and tire himself out on lap two. The crucial break of the race happed in lap 3 when Pete Finlayson and Jason Dastey got away on the hill. Ross Henry and Stuart Battly did the initial chasing but could reel them back in. Rob Monk tried to get some organisation in the bunch in the finishing straight and managed to get Roland Elstrom, Pete Whelan and George Tambassis to do a few turns. With 3k to go Dastey and Finlayson were within sight. After some subtle encouragement Jayman Prestidge tried to jump over the gap towing most of the field with him. Whelan crossed the gap then Rob Monk bridged using George Tambassis up in the process. Monk went past the leaders with 400meters to go and looked good until he blew up completely. Dastey still had enough left to sprint over the top to take a well-deserved win. Monk was second with Finlayson third. Then followed Pete Whelan and Ross Henry.
The C grade bunch stayed together for most of the race. Only Mick Blackwood and Andrew Gordon were dropped. Roger Bell decided to see who could sprint from 500 meters out. He strung out the field and the experienced Ray Rhodes was the only rider to time his run to the line perfectly. He wove his way through the tiring riders passing all just in time to take the victory. The consistent Bruce Staben was second, James Blyth third, Roger Bell forth and Col Brown Fifth.
D Grade did 2 laps and Rob Waddel won again earning promotion to C grade. Lou Clark was second, Pete O’Donnel third and Sue Elsdon fourth. In E grade Fran Bensted took the win from Adele Whelan.