Gippsland 3 Day Tour

10/06 – 12/06/2006

By Monique Hanley

The annual Gippy 3 Day Tour was once again held over the June long weekend, featuring four stages of racing hosted by Bairnsdale & Riviera, Latrobe City and Leongatha Cycling Clubs.

Despite gloomy weather predictions all racing was held in dry conditions, albeit a bit cold.  The Warragul Cycling Club was represented by seven of its members: Luke Hanley, Dave Salton, Ben Serpell, Geoff Thomson, Chris Beales, Kane Walker and Monique Hanley.  The weekend was once again a pleasure to be a part of: friendly racing and inter-club rivalry, great organisation and a laid back attitude befitting the tradition of the Tour.  If you have never ridden the Three Day Tour, pencil it in for next year as it is a great winter motivator with well-sized bunch racing and prize money often going down to 10th place (or further) for each grade!

In A grade, Warragul got off to a flying start with Dave Salton attacking early into Stage 1 at Lindenow and establishing a short break before the bunch eventually tracked down his effort.

He recovered enough to go on to win the punchy uphill sprint and the coveted time bonuses on offer for an A grade stage win.  Stages 2 & 3 were held at Yinnar, with Stage 2 consisting of a 5km individual time trial effort.  Despite the parcours dominated by the local Latrobe riders, Luke Hanley was well placed to record the 6th fastest time of the day.   In the afternoon it was another case of breakaway attempts, this time a four-man break succeeding in the crosswinds, but without a Warragul presence.  Luke Hanley formed a chase group in the final half of the circuit to limit some of the time damage caused by the breakaways, and in doing so secured 5th place on the overall standings.  Monday morning was held at the Leongatha Golf Course on a circuit unknown to many.  The promise of a few hills did little to break up the bunch and in a conservative race, all leaders protected their standings with Dave Salton finishing well and earning both sprint and finish bonuses.

Overall Results A grade

5th Luke Hanley
10th Dave Salton
21st Ben Serpell

B grade
From the first turn it seemed Warragul was always going to feature at the pointy end of the B grade bunch as Chris Beales kicked off with an offensive attack.  He was followed by Geoff Thomson who proved there is still a sprint in those legs of his by claiming the first intermediate sprint.  Despite some frustrated attempts at breaking up the bunch, all efforts were to no avail as every KOM, sprint and finish came down to the bunch kick.  Thommo proved to have the greatest acceleration this side of the Valley by claiming full points in all bar one contested title, including the claim of stage win.  Sunday’s stage 2 time trial proved the first chance to test Thommo’s mettle, and gave an opportunity for Warragul members Chris Beales and Kane Walker to shine, finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively and pushing Beales significantly up the ladder on the overall tally.  Bealesy further improved on this during the stage 3 circuit, going solo over the first lap to score the maximum intermediate sprint points.  But disaster struck on the KOM challenge as the narrow roads caused a few riders to bump shoulders.  With the momentum suddenly shifting sideways, Kane Walker was unable to control his ship and he took a nasty tumble.  It was a double blow for Warragul as his bike landed curbside and right into the sprint path of Bealesy.  Amazingly the remainder of the pack avoided the carnage but with two Warragul riders down, and a suspected serious shoulder injury for Bealesy, it was left to Thommo and Monique Hanley to carry the Warragul flag.  Shortly after the bell for the final lap, Hanley managed to bridge across to a breakaway consisting of nine-time 3 Day Tour winner Dave McFarlane and fellow Leongatha rider Peter Laws.  As the bunch struggled to organise a chase in the cross wind, the three worked together but couldn’t make any distance towards solo breakaway, Eurobodella rider John Marion.  Hanley finished 3rd and was very happy to get onto the leaders board with some points at last!  Stage 4 at Leongatha was another bunch affair as tired legs limited the kick of break away attempts.  Thommo once again featured in every sprint on offer and in doing so left no question as to the deserving overall leader.  On the final hills into the finish, local Leongatha rider Tony Smith escaped along with Wellington’s Shane Dove to battle out for 1-2, but Thommo showed his true colours by leading the bunch home for third with Monique Hanley 7th.

Overall Results B grade
1st Geoff Thomson
7th Monique Hanley
DNF Chris Beales
DNF Kane Walker

The weekend finished with the traditional luncheon and awards presentation, which gives an opportunity to let the stories of the weekend take even greater shape over a couple of ales, and for everyone involved to acknowledge the efforts of organisers, marshalls and riders in all grades, including the juniors.

Here’s hoping Bealesy’s injuries don’t keep him off the bike for too long, and we also hope the tumble doesn’t dissuade Kane Walker from gaining valuable racing experience.

Until next year.

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