By Stuart Cuckson
Warragul Cycling Club’s road/hill climb race on Saturday saw three gutsy wins from breakaways in the senior events. Using a different circuit at Cloverlea and the Yarragon to Leongatha hill, A and B grade covered 50 kilometres while the C graders rode 33.
The A grade bunch, apart from losing Travis Fromholtz with a tyre blowout after 35km and father Ian with “fatigue”, had stayed together until the foot of the hill. It was at this point where Murray Fenwick, in a Tony Rominger like performance, pounced to the front and took control putting a great deal of distance between himself and the bunch. He was able to ride at a consistent pace all the way up the six kilometre climb and not even a spirited last minute charge from Geoff Thomson could stop him winning. To the delight of the crowd, he crossed the line first in a time of 1:26:59, four seconds ahead of Thomson with Aaron Nobelius a further one second back and Phil Gallagher seven seconds off the winner.
The B grade race was also together at the foot of the hill but during the climb the bunch was blown apart by a fiery Ross Henry. From the finish line, Henry could be seen a good distance off steaming up the hill well clear of his opponents. He flew over the line in a time of 1:29:55, 18 seconds ahead of Anthony Radcliffe, with Grub Melnyk an extra 14 seconds back. Graeme Hanks rolled over the line 36 seconds off the winner with Paul Yeatman (who’d broken his frame half way up the climb, an extra minute back. Matt Hall rode very well to finish his first B grade race in sixth place after staying with the bunch for quite some time. David Cairns, although completing the climb, missed one of the road laps and registered a DNF.
Eleven C grade riders rolled out and stayed together for most of the flat road portion of the race. Just one rider being Vic Spunner had lost the bunch by the base of the hill. Initially five riders moved clear on the lower section of the climb, with that bunch being split again by the finish. Scott Keeble powered away to cross the line first in one hour nine minutes dead. Date Grant, showing improved form, came in 18 seconds off the winner just ahead of Peter Bailey and Jason Boxall. Russell Walker rode in just over a minute behind the winner with Ben Fleming battling on well for sixth. Ian De Bruyne and Stuart Cuckson crossed the line together in 1:12:32.
Marion Ophof rode very well with the bunch for much of the race finishing in a time of 1:20:13. Both Spunner and Peter Finlayson found a little bit of outside assistance welcome when climbing the hill and eventually managed to reach the top.
Damian Bridgeland put in a tremendous effort to complete the junior event of a six kilometre hill climb by himself in a respectable time of 30:30.
The club wishes to thank the many people who attended the race and lent their hand to help with traffic control and rider safety, it was also good to see the excellent number of spectators as well.
The point score is starting to become a very predictable affair with Thomson leading quite comfortably from Fenwick (44 and 30 points respectively). Gallagher is third (25), Keeble has jumped to fourth (22) and Henry fifth (21). Melnyk follows them on 19 and De Bruyne in seventh with 18 points.
A reminder that next week racing returns to the regular Nilma North circuit with 30 kilometre scratch races scheduled for all grades.
The juniors in the club would be very grateful to see an increase in numbers for their races and extend an invitation to anyone under 16 to come and have a ride with them. New seniors (both male and female) are also welcome to have a ride if interested.
Racing commences at Nilma North P.S. this week followed by a 44 km event from Warragul West P.S. on the 23th, racing starts at 1.30 pm sharp.