By Geoff Cuckson
In perfect weather conditions, Warragul’s club cyclists took on the Yarragon hill last Saturday with the climbers certainly coming to the fore.
Nineteen seniors and six lads who actually qualify as under 17 juniors took part in the six kilometre graded trip which required plenty of stamina and determination
Geoff Thomson again showed his class by taking out the A grade event with the fastest time of all riders, an excellent 16.53. With six other competitors in the grade, he worked the bunch hard early, and steadily broke the group up in the middle stages. After losing Rohan Watts, then Paul Yeatman and Brett Williams, and with Ross Henry just off the back, Thommo and 15 year old Travis Fromholtz cleared away from a struggling Murray Fenwick as they headed for the top.
Despite several surges from Thommo, Travis hung on for dear life in a courageous attempt to slay in touch. It was only in the final kilometre that experience and leg conditioning told, as Thommo, noting his opponents gear change, kicked clear. Travis’ time of 17.38 was an excellent effort and indicative of his continued improvement over the past six months.
Henry battled on well to pick up third place in 18.07 with Fenwick fourth in 18.34; nine seconds ahead of Yeatman. Williams came in in 19.47 with Watts through in 19.30 after each had been picked up by the B graders who had started a minute behind.
With 10 starters, the B grade bunch gradually dwindled in numbers as the pressure was exerted at the front. Grub Melnyk, Stuart Cuckson and Graeme Hanks took Ian Fromholtz, Dale Grant and John Pettinghill with them as they moved along at a comfortable speed.
After Pettingill lost contact, Fromholtz was unlucky to drop his chain and Grant lost ground as the three leaders cleared away. With 300 metres to ride, Cuckson made a quick move to grab the lead and despite a spirited challenge from Melnyk, was able to hold on well for a two second victory.
The winning time of 18.04 was third fastest of the day with third placed Hanks (18.11) also riding, faster than some of those graded above him. Ian did well to regain his momentum and grabbed the improved Grant as they went over the line in 19.23 each with Pettingill the only other rider to break 20 mins. Russ Walker also continues to show improvement with is 20.16 taking seventh ahead of Brett Miller (20.58), newcomer Bruce Fcnnick (23.10) and Brian Miller (23.12).
The C grade bunch of eight starters included three 14 year olds and 13 year old Stephen Fenwick.
In a top performance, youngster Ben Fleming ripped into the hill early in the race and careered away to score easily in a tremendous time of 20.11. Jason Boxall continued his improvement to take second after he and Scott Keeble had a stirring battle to the line, being separated by one second and 1.42 from the winner.
Ted Dunn also put in a great effort to cover the course in 22.37 ahead of Anthony Vogrig (22.42) and Marion Ophof (24.41). Stephen Fenwick, in only his fifth ride, battled very well with his 24.57 full of merit on a difficult course.
In a tough initiation to cycling, Ian De Bruyne was welcomed by the club for his first ride in a time of 26.13.
Well done to all riders – it was mentioned that the races do not come much harder than that one.
The youngsters in the C grade field were also pleased to have John Salton riding with them and assist ing in some of the finer points of road cycling -welcome back John.
With his consistent form, Thomson has taken a stranglehold on the points table but has a congested field behind him. With 32 points, he leads Fenwick and Henry (22 ea), Boxall and Fleming (20 ea). Hanks and the Fromholtz boys (19 ea).
Next week’s event has been scheduled as a 30 km handicap whilst a clinic will be held for the junior riders on the maintenance of the bottom bracket
Members are also advised that training on wind trainers will be held each Thursday night commencing at 7.30pm. All are invited to attend and to bring along your trainers if you have one for a good workout in a social atmosphere.
A reminder also that the country road championships are being held next Sunday at Gordon (near Bacchus Marsh) and the Gippsland hill climbs are scheduled for the following Sunday. Seniors are to commence from Trafalgar and juniors from Neerim Junction with both to finish at Neerim Junction.