T’was The Race Before Christmas


Wet roads, tight corners and some hot racing featured in Warragul Cycling Club’s last race before Christmas.

Twenty eight cyclists tackled a wet track including a bunch of 8 A-Graders. Lapping the Burke St course in around 4:25 the boys pushing hard. Shane Stiles returning to race from Melbourne was covering everything John McKenzie and Scott Keeble could throw at him.

Tyres struggled to hold the bitumen on the corners while Peter Finlayson’s devoted parenting (new baby) and subsequent lack of training meant he was struggling to hold on to a wheel.

Scott Keeble loves the wet and with his race face clearly on he put a gap into the field on lap 7, this however would be short lived as the bunch closed it down.

Keith Tomholt who had been holding his own succumbed to a puncture on the fourth last lap and had to withdraw as Danny Dilger, appearing to enjoy the accumulating lactic acid and burning lungs, voluntarily went to the front of the bunch, albeit for a brief moment.

Despite several short lived attacks a bunch sprint eventuated and the slippery tyre excuses were prepared in advance. It was Shane who kicked proceedings off with a poorly timed early sprint from the corner (some would call it a lead out) but it would be Scott Keeble who comfortably coasted across the line to take a deserved win and seal his position as the A-Grade points winner (Thomas Sander finished second in the club points and Geoff Thomson took out third).

B-Grade welcomed back Matt Malacarne to racing after an extended lay off while young gun James Henry decided to do battle with his father Ross. Chris Beales was looking for a win and Tim Lee was determined to gain some important points in the chase for the B-Grade title.

It was a fiery affair as the bunch frequently clocked up sub five minute laps. Chris was happy to do a lot of work out in front and Matty not only looked strong but also looked the part in the new club jersey.

Tim Lee very quickly found the going too tough on lap four and he had to withdraw from the race and any chance of taking first in the club points race. According to Tim it is apparently quite hard to ride a bike when your right pedal completely falls off.

Young James’s face was getting redder on each lap as the group turned up the heat. Rather than falling gracefully off the back James gritted his teeth and attacked up the hill. Many say the best form of defence is attack and while unsuccessful on this occasion there will come a day when he makes others suffer.

The sprint finally arrived and with good wet weather tyres Chris decided that his best chance to win would be to attack through the bottom two corners. Despite opening up a 30 meter gap on the bunch he could not sustain the effort for the length of the long finishing straight. Ross, who was not feeling 100%, dug deep and rolled Matt in the finish with Chris crossing in third. Ross almost fell off his bike and crawled to the car but he did so as the winner of not only the race but the B-Grade club points trophy. Tim Lee finished second by a pedal width and Justen O’Connor took out third.

Former club president Darren Williams returned to race from Melbourne in C-Grade and assisted them in pulling around 5:10 per lap. Rob Monk and Michael Pridmore were doing battle for the C-Grade trophy and were working well in the bunch. Steve Hall was also enjoying some race time.

The bunch stayed together until Michael put some space between him and the bunch early on lap 4. Rob was happy to let him dangle out front knowing that they would ultimately pull it back, and they did.

No further attacks proved fruitful and the sprint was predictably won by Rob from Darren (although it was not his fault, his tyres were slipping) with Michael and Steve rounding out a hard fought race.

Michael Pridmore had done enough to secure the C-Grade points trophy for the season over Rob Monk and Monique Hanley.

D-Grade completed their first 3 laps under control but ended up putting in some good times by the finish. As testament to their pace, on occasions they passed and were then passed again by C-Grade.

Sam Atkinson put in a great effort to do five rounds with the bunch while Luke Hanley was enjoying the benefits of some training. Dave Axford and Glenda Pridmore lost contact with the bunch on lap 5 as Rod, Ian de Bruyne and Daniel de Blauw pushed hard.

In the sprint finish Luke proved too strong finishing ahead of Daniel and Rod. Ian Dave and Glenda rounded out the race.

The D-Grade points trophy was won by Kym Fisher with Rod Atkinson second and Brendan Prdmore in third.

Congratulations to all who participated in a wonderful season. The committee and members wish to extend a special thank you to all those who committed their time to make the club racing an enjoyable experience. We look forward to the start of racing in the New Year with a Crit series commencing on the 3rd of January.

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