The stakes were high as the Warragul Cycling club double header event of the season commenced. The riders were to be tested against the clock both individually in the time trail and in a bunch in the handicap. Often referred to as the race of truth, the time trail was to be battled out over undulating kilometres in blustery conditions. The big surprise of the day came from the junior riders with Stephen Fenwick coming home in 20.32 and Daniel Dilger who clocked 20.44. Both, covered the distance faster than many of the higher ranked C grade riders. Another great effort was that of Paul Yeatman who has come of age in the lead up to the club championships when he rode 17.15.
The placings were:
1) Murray Fenwick 15.55, 2) Aaron Nobelius 16.18, 3) Stuart Corkran 16.29, 4) Geoff Thomson 16.38, 5) Paul Yeatman 17.15, 6) David Cairns 17.18, 7) Anthony Radcliffe 17.21.
The second stage was a gruelling 50 km handicap which left many short of reserves after the time trail. The handicap is designed to give riders an equal opportunity of winning through time advantages but after the time trail many riders had little left to chase the frontrunners. More than a quarter of the field were to retire early in the race due to fatigue and strong riding from those who had it left in them.
Marion Ophof was the first to start with 30 minutes over the scratch men, she rode an excellent first lap but the tough Christies Rd circuit was soon to take its toll.
The following bunch of John Salton, Jason Boxall, Anthony Vogrig, Ian De Byrne and Brian Mason off 2 minutes worked well together through the experience of Salton and made good running over the first 20km.
However chasing hard like a man possessed was Dale Grant who had chosen not to ride the time trail so that he had a fresh pair of legs. And fresh they were, four of the six men in his bunch retired under the pressure with only Russ Walker managing to keep him in site.
The six minute markers of David Cairns, Ross Henry. Paul Yeatman and Graeme Hanks fought hard but gained little time on the disintegrated field in front. They only took four minutes out of the storming Grant after 40km.
The scratch men weren’t to fare any better. After losing Corkran early on, Geoff Thomson, Murray Fenwick and Aaron Nobelius failed to roll through in tight formation and gained little.
In the final kilometres Grant surged past the tiring 22 minute markers to steal the race after riding alone for nearly 40 km, his time was 1.30.34. A further minute back Boxall ended up out sprinting Vogrig for the line followed by an exhausted Salton who finished fourth. Mason came in a further minute back in a great first ride. Russ Walker couldn’t quite catch these riders and had to be content with sixth place also after a long solo effort. Cairns beat Henry to the line for seventh to become the first triathlete in living memory to win a sprint in a road race! His time was 1.27.50, Yeatman came through for ninth with Hanks in 10th.
The scratchies rolled through a further minute back with Nobelius taking out fastest time in 1.22.57. He was closely followed by Thomson with Fenwick just off the pace. Ian De Byrne battled on to come through in 13th followed by Marion Ophof in 14th who rode well to covet the entire distance alone.