By Geoff Cuckson
Warragul Cycling Club spring racing continues to see increases in both numbers taking part and the standard of competition at each level. Despite the absence of several notable grade riders, including Donnelly, Gallagher, Eerhard and Hanks, the starter sent off 29 senior and 11 juvenile competitors in last Saturday’s Criterium.
A and B grades each covered 36 kilometres and C grade 21, whilst the juvenile A boys rode 18 kilometres and Bs 15 kilometres.
Although a couple of early breaks were attempted, the A grade result again came down to a spirited sprint over the final 200 metres. Wayne Kestle timed his acceleration to perfection, grabbed the lead inside the 100 and was able to hold off the dogged John Salton and fast finishing Gary Jackson to win in a time of 54 minutes, 40 seconds.
The B grade boys covered the same distance in 57.14 with Glen Gibson once again working hard in the bunch and being too slick for his opponents in the final sprint. Ken Bolch and new rider Andrew Palm fought out an exciting finish for the minor placings only two lengths from the winner with Brian Miller fourth. Another new competitor to do well was Paul Schoolderman who finished in the main bunch and it was pleasing to see top rider Glen Beveridge back in action after a short layoff. Improving Paul Yeatman also held on to the main bunch and Darren Williams, Stuart Pharoah and Lindsay Radcliffe -after a brief attempt to break early with Bolch -were not far away at the finish.
Stuart Corkran again showed his strength in taking out the C grade event which was covered at an average speed of 36 kilometres per hour.
Youngsters Brett Williams and Aaron Nobelius rode strongly to finish second and fourth respectively; being split by an improved performance by Simon Cuckson third, with Rohan Watts at the back of the bunch.
Sue Van derveen might consider herself a little unlucky as bike troubles forced her from the event when she was working well and looking a definite chance for victory.
It was also pleasing to see two new lady riders Sue Rochford and Robyn Bartley competing in their first events and battling it out to the finish.
In the juvenile races Brett Williams stamped himself as the top rider at present with another comfortable victory in A grade from new boys Brad Clark second and Michael McRae fourth.
Matt Miller finished third in his first serious performance for quite some time and Murray Fenwick, who continues to push the bunch hard mid-race, a close up fifth.
In B grade, David Reid continued his strong form with another victory as he led Ryan Turk in by 20 seconds over the 15 kilometre trip which was covered at an average speed of over 34 kilometres per hour.
The points scores remain close with the senior leaders being Corkran 19, Keslte and Gibson 18 each, Salton 12, Cuckson 11 and Miller and Watts 10 each.
In the juveniles Reid 21 and Williams 18 have cleared out from the other boys who are headed by Turk on 12.
Weather conditions were much improved for Wednesday’s track events and again numbers and racing were excellent.
Again Kestle proved the rider to beat although Salton, Gallagher and Jackson were not far behind and Spiteri and Kypriotis were consistent riders throughout the night. Brad Lester’s ride for second in the 30 lap motor paced final event was also an excellent performance and Paul Rowse led for a long part of the journey at a fairly fast pace. Of the several juveniles competing, the main opposition to Williams came from former Warrnambool rider Richard Abel who was competing for the first time with Warragul. The two boys shared the spoils with Stuart Cuckson chipping in to take the points score event .
Wednesday’s events commence at 7.30 pm (registration by 7 pm) and next Saturday sees a one lap (12 kilometre) individual time trial which should be a real test of speed and stamina.