By Geoff Cuckson
An incredible exhibition of speed and stamina over the final lap by two C grade riders highlighted Saturday’s third and final graded Criterium of the Warragul Cycling Club spring racing season. After an even first 30 minutes of bunch riding, Rohan Watts attacked as soon as the bell sounded with three kilometres of a 21 kilometre trip to go, and, together with Sue Van derveen in his slipstream, rode the second fastest of the day’s 31 laps covered by three grades.
Their lap time of four minuters, 23 seconds had been bettered on only three other occasions by the attacking A graders in previous weeks of the spring season. Watts, a newcomer to the sport, tried everything to shake the determined blonde bullet as they powered down the back straight. Such was their speed on this lap that they bolted past a bemused A grade group who still had 15 kilometres of racing ahead of them. In the end, Van derveen’s more experienced use of tactics paid off as she burst past the dogged Watts in the final 100 metres to score a popular victory.
Newcomer Harry Langridge performed well (on a touring bike) and looks capable of improvement.
In each of the two other grades, riders covered 36 kilometres in races that again came down to a final charge to the line for victory.
Despite attempts to break by Tim Eerhard, firstly with Ken Bolch and Brian Miller, and later with Glen Beveridge, the B grade event saw only one rider dropped as the bunch crossed the line in a close formation. Eerhard proved to be the strongest at the finish with Bolch coming in second and Paul Yeatman a great third.
The A grade event saw a return to the winning list of John Salton as his superior sprinting ability enabled him to kick clear close to home and hold off a tightly bunched field headed by Phil Gallagher and Brad Lester.
The juvenile A graders covered 15 kilometres with Brad Clark finishing quickly over the top of Brett Miller who almost pinched the race when he kicked clear 300 metres out. Stuart Cuckson finished third in the event with the other riders closely bunched behind him.
Ryan Turk again powered away to take out the B grade event from David Reid in a time only one minute behind the A grade boys, whilst Brendan Stocked battled well in only his second ride for the season and it was good to see Damien Jarrad back on the bike after a short layoff.
Next Saturday sees the completion of the spring season with secret sprints on each lap being included in graded scratch races.
The points scores are at an interesting stage and with extra points available for each sprint, several riders have now come into contention for the awards.
In A grade, Salton has joined Wayne Kestle on 24 points with Gallagher a real threat on 22 and Geoff Thomson 12
Glen Gibson leads B grade with 30 points, ahead of Miller. 24, Bolch 22, Eerhard 16 and Lindsay Radcliffe 14.
Corkran has 31 points in C grade ahead of Watts 27, Simon Cuckson 17 and Van derveen 12,
Brett Williams 25 leads Cuckson 22, Miller 20, Clark 18 and Aaron Nobelius 17 in the juvenile A grade whilst Reid 34 still has a break on Turk 28 in the B grade.
Despite fewer competitors last week, Wednesday’s track events were very keenly contested with the highlights being the Drouin Cycles scratch races to finish the evening.
Four juveniles looked set to stage a close finish before a slight scrimmage on the home turn split the group with Williams gaining the break and sprinting clear to score well.
The senior 20 lap race saw a nail biting finish as four riders flashed across the line in a blanket finish which took the judges some time to sort out. Kestle was given the nod by the narrowest of margins from McFarlane, Kypriotis and Jackson – all of whom had performed well earlier in the night.
All members and supporters are reminded of the presentation wind up to be held next Saturday commencing with a barbecue at 6.30 pm at the clubrooms.
We have had 40 seniors and 16 juvenile riders compete in the six spring events so far this season and all are encouraged to attend.
As well as their racing locally, several of our riders have performed with distinction at other club and slate events.
Jackson and Nobelius have won several events at Leongatha, whilst Lester look out a juvenile event at VFL Park last week.
Williams performed creditably at Bendigo and Brian Miller, after being boxed in close to home, finished second in a blanket finish in category three of the State Veterans Kermesse Championship held over 40 kilometres at Rosebud last weekend. Wayne Kestle, although falling early in the race, and his partner Danny Hollingsworth from the Blackburn club, were convincing winners of the inaugural Victorian Junior Madison Championship last weekend.
Held at the Bendigo velodrome, the race was over 30 kilometres and such was Wayne and Danny’s dominance that they were able to lap each of the nine opposing teams before the end of the race.
This completes a great year for the brilliant year 11 schoolboy who has been granted a scholarship to the junior Cycling Squad of the Victorian Institute of Sport.
Along with crack Bendigo rider Brent McCaig, Brunswick’s Brett Pearson and brilliant Shepparton lad David McKenzie, Wayne will be training under director Hilton Clarke, himself a former brilliant track rider of the 60s and 70s. Wayne is at present undergoing six days of intensive training in Adelaide with the National Institute of Sport.
His performances both on the road and the track are awe inspiring and his manner and demeanour whether on or off the bike are certainly a great example for his fellow club members to follow.
The Warragul Cycling Club congratulates Wayne on a great year and is confident that there are bigger and better things ahead of him in the tough and exciting field of cycling.