By Geoff Cuckson
The benefit of consistent training leading to improved form came to the fore when Marion Ophof held on strongly to take out last Saturday’s cycling handicap event After joining the club at the start of the season in January, a very keen Marion has steadily improved her times and riding skills each week to break through for a popular victory.
With the back-markers giving away up to 15 minutes, nineteen senior riders were sent off in a short 24 km handicap over the Landsborough Rd course. A returning Ted Dunn off 12 minutes and Marion off the limit rode as the two out-markers with four bunches behind them.
Off seven minutes. Dale Grant started as though the race was a 500 metre sprint; leaving Russ Walker, Sue Van derveen and Debbie Williams to hold and work together behind him.
Three and a half minutes markers Ross Henry, Peter Bailey and Peter Standfield lost fellow-marker Brian Miller early but worked well together in the chase.
Behind them, Ian and Travis Fromholtz, Brett Miller and a returning David Cairns held their 45 second mark over the scratchies only until slaughterhouse hill in the first lap.
Just before that point the back-markers, John Salton, Paul Yeatman and Rohan Watts lost Stuart Cuckson and Grub Melnyk but when they pulled in the second scratch, the combined bunch pushed along strongly.
Marion’s improvement however was such that the scratchies were only able to take five minutes out of her over the first lap as their prospects looked grim. The only chances at the halfway mark to catch the leader appeared to be Dunn or one of those from the seven, minute group. They however had broken up and it was left to individual chasing down with Grant and Walker kicking dear of the ladies whilst Dunn struck mechanical trouble.
In a determined effort, Marion finished very well to score a good win in a time of 48 mins 18 secs. Second place went to Grant, 1.42 behind the winner and 29 secs ahead of the consistent Walker who was third. Dunn battled on well for fourth in 51.02 as the main bunch entered the final straight for the sprint home with Sue Van derveen just in front of them.
With Salton working the bunch well, the back-markers had lost Ian Fromholtz and Cairns but picked up Henry and Bailey down the back and Debbie on the home turn. With the bunch coming hard behind her. Sue fought on well in her first road event for some time to take out fifth.
In the charge in the straight, Salton got clear but did not have the training in the legs to hold out the fast finish of the much improved Yeatman who, in coming in sixth, took fastest time (37.6kph). Just off their wheels, Henry kicked again right on the line to grab a gutsy Travis for eighth ahead of Bailey. Watts, after being in the right spot for the final charge was most unlucky to break three spokes 100 metres out and limped across the line at the back of the bunch with Debbie beside him.
A minute behind saw Ian Fromholtz take 13th ahead of Cairns in a good sprint with Standfield coming in a further minute away. Brett Miller and Cuckson came in at the back with Melnyk and Brian Miller failing to complete the course.
With, his performance, Yeatman has moved to second on the points table behind Gallagher (47). Cuckson and Walker have 42 each with Henry (41), Bailey and Watts, 38 each.
Nine juniors took part in a mixed handicap with more new faces for the season. With the boys covering between six and 15 kms, only three minutes separated all but two of the riders at the finish. Eight year old Marcus Salton covered two laps of the three km circuit in a race time of 22.44 to lead the field in. After covering four laps each, Luke Langelaan came in ahead of newcomer Brendan Standfield with both boys riding strongly all the way to reel in three lappers Stewart Hood and Dean Smart in times of between 25.55 and 26.59.
At the back, seasoned juniors Ben Fleming and Scott Keeble gave two minutes to a hard working Jason Boxall over five laps. Jason did an excellent job on his own and was only picked up in the final long charge to the line with Ben taking out the sprint in a race time of 28.52. A boys rode well and with almost twenty juniors having ridden this season, the Club is hoping that most are able to continue into the cooler season.
Jason has a strangle hold on the summer series with 55 points. Fleming and Dean Wilson have 34 ea. ahead of Keeble and Ryan Ritchie (22 ea) and Steven Byers 21.
The club congratulates several of its senior riders who have performed well in recent events outside the local area and in particular wish Wayne Kestle the best of luck in his pursuit of National Gold in Alice Springs commencing this Saturday.