By Geoff Cuckson
Saturday’s graded scratch races provided close finishes in all three senior cycling grades in a day marred by a heavy fall. With five A and seven B graders in attendance, a combined group was sent to cover the 35km trip over the Copelands and then Brandy Creek Rd circuits. A very determined Aaron Nobelius and a surging Geoff Thomson broke clear of the bunch with 20 of the 35 km race to ride.
The following group which included the other A grade riders Murray Fenwick, Paul Yeatman and the newly promoted Ross Henry worked hard in pursuit.
With four B graders also in the tight bunch, a clipping of wheels at the halfway mark saw Peter Bailey come off his bike and land very heavily. In a fine rodeo performance, Travis Fromholtz, with nowhere to go, rode over the top of the sprawling Bailey but managed to stay on his bike and ride out of trouble.
After putting in some excellent performances of late, it was most unfortunate that Bailey went down with what was later diagnosed as a collarbone broken in two places.
The two leaders pushed hard with Thomson leading over the rise, 400 metres out. After a short game of “cat and mouse”, Nobelius zipped out from behind and went for the long sprint home. Despite Thomson’s attempts to wear him down, the youngster went through very strongly to score by three metres in a time of 55.03.
The other A graders and the remaining three riders in B grade staged a good sprint for home one minute behind the winner.
Fenwick proved too strong at the finish to take third ahead of the very much improved Henry who came over the top of Brett Williams and Yeatman. By way of his placement, Williams took out the B grade event from Travis Fromholtz and Graeme Hanks who finished just behind. Russ Walker, riding in the higher grade for the first time, missed the scrimmage and battled on well on his own in a time of 1.04.36.
Special mention should go to Stuart Cuckson who stopped and attended the injured Bailey, organising first aid and the ambulance. The club also wishes to thank, on Peter’s behalf, the many people who stopped to offer assistance on the busy road especially Val, Leanne and the gentleman in the yellow Corolla. We are pleased to report that although bruised and sore, Peter is keen to get back on the bike as soon as possible.
The C grade event was held over 29 km with six riders covering one each of the Copelands and Christies Rd circuits. Veteran Ted Dunn rode off with youngsters Ben Fleming, Scott Keeble and Jason Boxall but lost the bunch in the first lap as they climbed past Christ Church Nilma. Also in the leading bunch were the improving Anthony Vogrig and Kevin Ware who was returning after a long layoff. Vogrig was unfortunate to drop his chain twice in Christies Rd as the leaders made the most of the break. However, he worked hard to get back in touch as the five settled for the final sprint.
Fleming took over 200 metres out and looked to be holding the others at bay until Ware came hard down in the middle of the road to gradually overrun the leader and grab victory on the line. Keeble came in three metres away third with Vogrig just behind him and in front of Boxall. All rode well to break the one hour mark with the winner being timed at 58.54 – a good effort in his comeback ride. Dunn again battled hard on his own to come in three minutes off the winner.
Three other juniors rode in a three km event from Nilma to Nilma North. Also in a comeback ride after a knee problem, Ryan Ritchie showed good form to score well in a time of 6.33 from the improving Stephen Fenwick and consistent Shane Boxall.
Members are advised that the country championships are to be held Sunday, May 23 at Gordon by the Melton Cycling Club. The club is looking at taking a bus if sufficient numbers are interested. Graeme Hanks is arranging but will need to hear from those wishing to go by Wednesday so that a club entry can be made.
Members are also reminded of the general meeting to be held tonight (11th) at 7.30 pm and encouraged to make an effort to attend.
Next week’s ride will take the form of a 6 km hill climb to commence from south of Yarragon on the Leongatha Rd.