By Geoff Cuckson
Warragul’s cycling saw yet another influx of new riders and club members in its open handicap event held last Saturday. Newest member Alison Maxsted stamped herself as a very promising rider by proving too good for her 28 opponents in the 30 kilometer event. Off the 10 minute mark and giving away eight minutes to the limit, Alison put in three excellent laps to score well by 50 seconds from junior Jason Boxall.
Jason, off the limit, had scooted away from his fellow markers Marion Ophof and Melissa Aarts very early in the race to hold a 1.30 lead after 10 kilometers. Behind them, the 10 minute bunch of Anthony Vogrig, Debbie Williams, Maxsted and fellow newcomer Georgann McEwan had picked up the 12 minute boys, Ted Dunn and Kevin Mills.
At the same time, eight minute markers Dale Grant, Russ Walker, Ben Fleming and new junior Ben Homsby were working hard to make up valuable time. Young veterans Graeme Hanks and Ian Fromholtz (four minutes) were also pushing strongly as they lost fellow marker Peter Bailey after eight kilometers.
Behind them the two minute bunch of John Pettingill, Wayne Proud, Kevin Pieicy, Travis Fromholtz and Brett Williams worked hard together despite losing Stuart Cuckson by the drive-in.
Back markers Geoff Thomson and Murray Fenwick lost Anthony Radcliffe but were closing quickly on the second scratch of Ian Miller, Paul Yeatman, Rohan Watts and Ross Henry
At the bell with 10 to ride, Boxall was holding on strongly although Melissa had picked up some ground and Alison was starting to put the pressure on, although still two minutes from the lead. Vogrig was trying to shake his fellow markets with Grant clearing away from the eight minute group.
The big move was coming from the “raging bull” Hanks, as he and Ian Fromholtz rolled over the lead in strong runs. Pettingill, Piercy and Travis broke away from their bunch who, along with the 1.30 minute boys, had been picked up by Thomson and Fenwick.
The last lap became a battle of leg strength as the C grade riders off the front marks rode their longest club race distances so far.
At the front Jason tried valiantly to hold on but could not keep out the impressive Alison as she went to the line strongly to score well in a race time of 1.04.39. Behind them, Hanks put in a tremendous effort to take third after working tirelessly throughout the race.
With Ian just behind him and one minute from the winner, he actually took time out of some of the riders who had started behind him. Melissa battled on gamely for ninth, holding out the fast finishing Piercy, Travis and Pettingill.
In a very close sprint for fastest time, Thomson got the upper hand from Fenwick close to home to finish 13th in a net 49.31.
Most other riders came in at close intervals with a total of four failing to complete the course. Special mention must be given to Homsby who performed very creditably to finish in the middle of the field. Just turned 16 and still eligible for juniors, Ben appears to be a very keen cyclist and will add depth to those ranks.
The junior race was also a handicap over 10 kilometers with five riders taking part. A revitalized Mick Delaney off 2.30 and wire with his “Rocky” motivational tapes, scored a good win as he went around in a net time of 24.45 – over two minutes faster than his previous best. Stephen Fenwick took 1.30 off his best time and from the scratch mark chased hard to come in only 20 seconds off the winner. Third place went to another newcomer Daniel Dilger who put in a very good effort off 30 seconds to finish 1.30 behind Delaney.
Behind him came limit marker John Dent in 30.51 ahead of Shane Boxall whose net time was 30.11. Again, all boys put in great efforts over the undulating course, which always has the senior riders battling up some of the hills.
Next week’s club racing will see a double header with a 10 kilometer individual time trial to be followed by 20 kilometers graded scratch races. The scratch event will be different than as per the program with the Christies Rd circuit to be used for the first time this season.
Members and supporters are again reminded of the second of the autumn combines to be held this coming Sunday. Many have offered assistance but there are still positions vacant and it is expected that riders who assisted at the previous event would have preference in riding this week.