By Murray Fenwick
Nothing could stop scratchman Phil Gallagher and Geoff Thomson from their well deserved win in the weekend’s 38km handicap held at Nilma North on the weekend. Years have gone by since the last time the scratchies have taken out a handicap and from the moment the accomplished pair set out there was a sense that there was a great race brewing.
The 11 minute markers of Ian De Bryne, Tedd Dunn, Scott Keeble, Ben Flemming and Jason Boxall worked in well together over the distance and held off the chasers until the dying minutes.
The following group consisting of Stuart Cuckson, Matt Hall, Dale Grant, Russ Walker, Ian Fromholtz and David Cairns had difficulty taking turns together and had split into three separate bunches by the half way mark with Cuckson and Fromholtz retiring.
Off three minutes were Grub Melnyk, Ross Henry, Stuart Pharaoh, Travis Fromholtz and Paul Yeatman. These riders also had trouble working in well together but gained time none the less due to the size of the bunch and some mighty turns from the resuming Pharaoh.
Two minute markers Murray Fenwick, Anthony Radcliffe and Graeme Hanks made little time on the others and were caught by the 19 km mark. These three managed to hold the scratchmen until disaster struck when Gallagher, the backbone of the group punctured.
Thomson and Fenwick pressed on while Radcliffe offered Gallagher his wheel as a replacement. The race was now wide open with all groups having a chance for line honors. However no-one counted on a super human effort from Gallagher who not only regained the bunch but also propelled the scratchies toward the large group ahead. It didn’t take long before the majority of riders had been reeled in and they were destined for a big bunch finish. Only two riders remained out in front in juniors Stephen Fenwick and Daniel Dilger who were quite a way ahead of the main field.
Gallagher realizing the urgency surged forward closely followed by Thomson and Fenwick. These three riders managed to break clear forming a handy gap but still left minutes from the junior riders with only kilometers to go. Stephen and Daniel thought they had the race won and started playing cat and mouse in an effort to out sprint each other. This left the scratchies with enough spare to power over the youngsters with meters to go in the closest handicap finish for some time.
Again Gallagher rolled Thomson on the line to take the event in 1.00.31 closely followed by Fenwick.
The two juniors took fourth and fifth respectively with Melnyk just beating Fromholtz, Yeatman, Pharaoh and Henry half a minute further back. Cairns rolled in two minutes later ahead of Grant, Hall with Walker just off the pace. Keeble, Boxall, De Bryne and Dunn all rolled through further back.
Last weekend Scott Keeble placed well in the junior under 17 two day event hosted by Blackburn. He finished first in his age group and seventh overall.
Aaron Nobelius again represented the club in racing in Horsham on the weekend. He finished seventh overall in his division and was the first under 19 finisher.
Geoff Thomson has a clear lead in the points with 26 followed by Fenwick on 16, Travis has 15 with Gallagher a well deserved 14. Melnyk and Keeble both have 11 with a host of riders sitting on 10 points.