Novice riders are always a chance to slip under the guard of the handicapper and this was certainly the case with Ben Stein on Saturday. Ben took out the win in only his second race start. Riding off 24 minutes Ben just overhauled the improving Andrew DeBona to take out the victory.
Andrew was first to start with 31 minutes on scratch. Next away was Ben Stein and Renee Patrick off 24 minutes.
With 9 minutes on scratch the group of Grant Neilsen, Matt Williamson, Graeme Patrick and Steve Muggeridge would prove hard to catch.
Two minutes behind them were the trio of thirteen year olds Cyrus Monk, Joe Patrick and Jayden Manintveld. These young fellows would take time out the the 9 minute group on the hills but in the strong cross winds, these lightweights would be at a disadvantage.
The largest group of the day, with 3 minutes on scratch, consisted of Simon Baxter, Jason Dastey, Jarryd Jones, Justin Prestidge, Paul Yeatman, James Lalor and Jayman Prestidge. Joining them was first time racer Pear Whelan.
Chasing them was the scratch bunch made up of Shane Stiles, Darryl Anderson, Geoff Thomson, Rob Monk, Pete Finlayson and Thomas Sandner.
The scratch men struggled to team well right from the start. Finlayson and Sandner were in trouble after a few kilometres. Finlayson lost contact on the first time up the climb and Sandner could not contribute to the pace making on the flat so the scratch bunch was reduced in number to four very quickly. Stiles and Anderson were super strong and Thommo was able to roll through whenever required. Monk was just hanging on for dear life.
Up the road the large 3 minute bunch shared the workload evenly but were losing time rapidly to the scratch men. Only Jarryd Jones lost contact with the group on lap one. At the end of lap one the scratchies had clawed back 2 minutes of the 3 minutes bunches’ head start. They were within sight on the hill.
The three youngsters had only taken 10 seconds out of the 9 minute group on lap one. Cy, Jayden and Joe were in limbo between groups and were having to work very hard in the wind. Andew Dabona still held an 16 minute lead on scratch after a lap and Ben Stein had parted company with Renee Patrick and held a 15 minute advantage on scratch with a lap to race.
The scratch bunch waited for Rob Monk going up the hill and they caught the 3 minute men before the left turn into Sthurs Rd. Stiles kept the tempo high along Sthurs and most other riders were just passengers. Simon Baxter shook up the group with a surprise attack and Daryl Anderson was the only rider to bridge over to Baxter before the end of Stur’s Rd.
Rounding the turn for home Stiles and Thommo jumped over to Baxter and Anderson and the chances of anyone else winning the race was over. Jason Dasty, Pete Whelan, James Lalor and Justin Prestidge tried to chase over the gap but the scratch men were not going to be caught.
Stein caught DaBona within sight of the line and the two battled out a sprint for the win. Ben proved just too strong in the run to the line and took out the win. Andrew finished second, his best result in the series so far.
Steve Muggeridge and Graeme Patrick had dropped first Matt Williamson and then Grant Neilsen in the efforts to chase down the out markers. They held off the fast finishing scratch men to take out third and fourth just overtaking Renee Patrick near the line. Renee was fifth.
Next home was the scratch trio of Shane Stiles, Geoff Thomson and Darryl Anderson. They had dropped breakaway instigator Baxter in the finishing straight.
A large group of riders contested the sprint for the remaining top ten finishing places. Jayman Prestidge opened up the sprint with a surprise move up the left hand gravel. He established a good break but with fifty meters to go, he all of a sudden appeared to be peddling though quicksand. Rob Monk cruised by to take ninth and Jayman hung on for tenth.
The series heads to Darnum next week for the final three races.