By Geoff Cuckson
Warragul Cycling Club resumed its racing on Saturday with very well attended scratch races over the 38 km course. Despite the threat of impending wind and rain, 24 competitors rode off in three grades in the first of the winter series events.
Six riders led the field away in the A grade race with the promoted Graeme Hanks and Ross Henry joining autumn series winner Geoff Thomson, Murray Fenwick, Stuart Corkran and Colin Aitken. With Thomson and Corkran working the others hard early, Hanks and Henry lost the back of the bunch but battled valiantly to stay within touch. It was not until the long Bloomfields Rd hill with 15 to ride that the pressure was exerted fully as Aitken made his move with Thomson. These two cleared away from the other four, extending their lead to 35 seconds with seven km to ride and then coming in almost three minutes in front of third. Continuing his excellent form, Thomson shrugged off his pursuer over the rise and went on to score by 20 metres in a time of 66 mins 42 secs. Fenwick, after dropping to fourth in mid race, fought on tenaciously to overrun Corkran and take third. After hanging on gamely in the early part, Hanks and Henry also lost ground when the two leaders surged. However they both battled on well with Hanks taking fifth only 3:21 behind the winner and Henry a further 40 seconds back.
The field of eight B graders rolled off but split early with two riders losing touch. The other six boys went together for almost the entire trip with the placings coming down to a sprint over the final 400 metres. The two hardest workers in the bunch, Grub Melnyk and Paul Yeatman gained the upper hand at the finish with the superior leg strength of Melnyk enabling him to get away and score narrowly. The winners time of 1:11:07 was four seconds ahead of Travis Fromholtz whose strong finish saw him hold out Kevin Piercy for third. Just off their wheels, David Cairns put in an excellent effort to finish fifth with the dogged Ian Fromholtz a close up sixth.
Ten riders rode off in the C grade event which saw youngsters Scott Keeble, Ben Fleming and Jason Boxall get away early with Ian De Bruyne and Ted Dunn hot in pursuit. After losing Boxall at the halfway mark, the other four pushed hard in the blustery conditions with super vet Dunn doing plenty of hard work. Slight confusion with a vehicle around the final turn out of Number One Rd gave the younger riders the opportunity to slip away as Dunn lost his momentum. In a good sprint, superior leg speed saw Keeble kick away over the final 200 to score well in a time of 1:20:48. Fleming took second some five seconds behind with Dunn finishing just behind him and 10 seconds in front of De Bruyne. Although losing the bunch early, Marion Ophof and a resuming Debbie Williams battled on well around the hilly course to come in fifth and sixth respectively. Both riders were clocked at 5 mins 23 secs from the winner. As well as Jason, three other riders covered at least half of the course with Kevin Mills putting in a good effort in his first ride for some time.
Also in attendance, youngster Damien Bridgland had his first ride over the 10 km course and appears to be a keen cycling aspirant. It was also good to see Shane Boxall back on the bike over the same distance.
Club members are reminded of the annual general meeting to be held Tuesday 13th commencing at 7.30pm. All members are encouraged to attend and to bring along a plate to share for supper.