Amidst driving winds and rain Warragul’s spring series racing at Burke St got underway with an excellent turn up considering the inclement weather. The first race of the day, the A and B grade combined Criterium saw the re-emergence of some of the more experienced riders in the lead up to summer.
A returning to form John Salton was the first to split the field which automatically had a small group away. This move was to prove decisive as the riders giving chase lost much of their reserves that would be needed in the later stages. In the fifth lap Salton again split the field with Aaron Nobelius, Graeme Hanks, Chris Kypriotis, Phil Gallagher and Paul Yeatman being dragged along.
Pre race favourite Gallagher soon lost contact as did Yeatman who suffered a puncture. For those who had been dropped it became a race of survival in the atrocious conditions. The battler Ross Henry joined Peter Finlayson in the chase and were soon helped along by Yeatman who had chased hard to reach the pair.
Matt Hall, Simon Cuckson and Rohan Watts were not so lucky however and had to battle on alone for much of the race with Cuckson eventually retiring. The leading group had now organised itself and was working in well, suddenly Nobelius came from nowhere and stormed off the front of the group throwing them into disarray.
Murray Fenwick was the first to catch the junior shortly followed by a race worn Salton. The move left Hanks and Kypriotis out of touch and it wasn’t long before Salton too cracked under the pressure. The two then set about putting time into the field and eventually lapped all but two.
The finish was then all that was to be decided as Nobelius again let loose with an attack. He was however caught and couldn’t quite hold his lead to the line and had to be content with second in a time of 1.15.34.
The ride of the day was a toss up between Salton and Hanks who both fought hard in the leading bunch and never gave up after being dropped. Salton’s third place overall gave him victory in the B grade classification with Hanks finishing second in that class.
The sprint for third in B grade was a memorable one with the experience of Finlayson pitted against the youth of Yeatman and the determination of Henry. It was Finlayson who led the trio out in the finishing straight. Yeatman cranked it up a gear and went for home with Henry hot on his wheel. Henry inched up on Yeatman and the three raced for the line with nothing separating them. Henry rolled Finlayson on the line for third with Finlayson fourth and Yeatman fifth.
A further three minutes back Hall crossed the line soon to be followed by Watts.
The C grade Criterium over 40 minutes saw Dale Grant again dominate with a convincing win in the event over youngsters Ben Fleming and Scott Keeble. Grant set up the win in the sixth lap immediately putting a gap into the opposition, the solo breakaway was chased half-heartedly as Grant surged away from the bunch. After two laps he had a thirty second lead, a lead he held to the line to comfortably take the event in 51.30. His win announces his rise to the B grade ranks in the up coming races and he will prove to be a rider to watch even in the higher grade.
Again a great sprint finish lay ahead in the race for the minor placings as had taken place in the B grade event. Fleming only just held out Keeble with Ian, De Bruyne finishing a close fourth. Peter Bailey finished in fifth just off the pace with Russ Walker sixth. Anthony Vogrig finished seventh after having lost contact with the main field and Stuart Cuckson finished to eighth a little further behind. Vic Spunner rode well and was unfortunate to lose a lap to the front runners.
The D grade event included a novice event for the first time with two new riders racing for the first time.
The clubs youngsters Stephen Fenwick and Daniel Dilger were spurred along by Melissa Aarts who made some strong turns off the front of the group. Peter Eckermann, Colin Keeble and Neil Vorbach lost contact mid way through the race with Paul Rolfe riding excellently in his first ride just behind them. Stephen won the event again holding off a determined Aarts and Dilger to the line. A further minute back Colin Keeble rolled through only just holding off a great effort from Eckermann in the dying minutes. Vorbach finished a further two minutes down followed by Rolfe.
The junior under 15 riders rode 9km with Luke Langelaan again proving too strong for rivals Damian Bridgeland, Matthew Young and Jason Boxall.
Club members are reminded of the club meeting to be held tonight at 7.30pm.