Rain at the beginning of the race made conditions treacherous for Saturdays Warragul Cycling Club race on the Burke St Criterium.
The A grade race started at a pedestrian pace and soon B grade grade riders were passing A grade. This spurred the A grade boys into action. Paul Yeatman was keen to stretch his legs and get up the road. Shane Stiles would not let him get too far away.
After 20 minutes Simon Baxter crashed rounding the King St Corner, bringing Geoff Thomson down with him. The bunch waited for the crashed duo to get back on.
Baxter showed no ill effects of the collision and launched an attack with Tristan Marut and Walker in tow. Stiles would not let them get too far though and he managed to bring the bunch back together.
With two laps to go the crème rose to the top. Stiles and Walker rode away and the rest of the field could not follow. Walker had been happy in the role of lead-out man in the past two races but this week he rode to win. Stiles tried to break away and claimed a finger injury sustained while he put the signs out before the race hampered his sprint. Walker showed him no sympathy and won easily in the sprint.
In the bunch kick for third Tristan Marut showed some good sprinting form. He took third place from Paul Yeatman and Simon Baxter.
The combined B and C grade started at a cracking pace thanks to Thomas Sandner. Thomas thought he could ride away from the group for the whole race. He attacked from the gun passing A grade before the end of the first lap.
Pete Finlayson sensed an opportunity and tried to get over to Sandner but made it only to the A grade bunch and could get no further. The quick start to the race saw C graders Paul Kennedy and Matt Willamson fall off the back of the bunch on lap two.
As the bunch worked together Sandner’s lead was slowly reduced. When B grade rode past the crashed A grade riders sprawled on the road, Sandner knew his break away was doomed and he decided conditions were too perilous to continue racing. The rest of the field continued taking it easy around the corners.
Steve Muggeridge launched a solo attack but was quickly reeled back in by an organised chase group. Next Pete Finlayson went off the front hoping someone would join him up the road but again the peleton were keen to let him dangle solo off the front. Finlayson would have none of this and returned to the bunch and waited for the sprint.
In the sprint Muggeridge sacrificed his chances of winning by towing the bunch into the strong headwind. Finlayson was the first to jump for home. He opened up the sprint a long way from home and Rob Monk was quick to get onto his wheel and took the lead 50 meters from the finish. Jarrod Jones was perfectly placed to come off Rob’s wheel near the line though and take the win by half a wheel. Rob was second with Joe Patrick just overtaking a tiring Finlayson for third place.
Neil Walker hung onto the B grade boys longer than Matt Williamson and Paul Kennedy to take the points in C grade.
Matt and Paul were still travelling well enough to drop A grade imposter Jayman Prestidge on their final lap. Prestidge was shelled from the A grade field mid race and such was the devastation of his physical and psychological being, C grade duo Kennedy and Williamson compassionately waited for him after he was unable to keep up with them on the King St hill. Prestidge is shell of former self.
In D grade Tammy Patrick’s timid cornering was seriously challenged in the wet conditions. Cy Monk and Jaydn Manitveld opened a big gap on Tammy around every corner as they sped into them faster than Tammy was prepared to go. By mid race Tammy was dropped for good. Cy did the majority of work in the latter part of the race as Jayden rode a smart tactical finish. He locked onto Cy’s wheel and would not go around him until just before the finish line where he took out the win. A frustrated Cy was second with Tammy in third.