Lurking in the shadows near the start finish line is a rotund little man with thick glasses. He speaks to no-one during the race. He watches his charges go round in silence. He has done his talking in the leadup to the race. Getting into the feeble mind of Jayman Prestidge is no mean feat. Converting George Tambassis from a muscle bound gym junkie to an elite cyclist is still a work in progress, so Bill Frew must avoid distraction. He watches his charges alone and in silence.
Again this week the A grade field was small so A and B grade combined. A Graders Shane Stiles and Kane Walker agreed to let the rest fight out the race, opting for a bunch training ride.
The race was on from the start with small breaks continually rolling off the front. The first to go was Simon Baxter and Danny Dilger. They didn’t get far.
Next Matt Kennelly was allowed to roll off the front and when Paul Yeatman Ross Henry and James Lalor joined him the peleton finally went into chase mode. After the catch Lalor took off again and this time Jayman Prestige rode over to him. Danny Dilger burnt a lot of petrol tickets riding over to them but Lalor was spent. Prestidge and Dilger swapped turns for half a lap before Prestidge ran up the white flag leaving Dilger in the breeze all alone. When Prestige returned to the peleton he suggested Danny would thank him for not working with him later on. Thank’s were not forthcoming when Dilger was caught half a lap later. Prestidge had used the big man up and left in the breeze all alone. Dilger will remember this in future races and will pay Prestidge back.
Cy Monk and Jason Dasty were allowed to dangle off the front of a lap and half before being brought back to the fold. Prestidge again put the pressure on up the King St hill and had the field strung out but not broken. Coach Frew, parked unobtrusively at the top of the King St hill, liked what he saw in Prestidge’s eyes.
With 3 laps to race the combined A/B grade bunch passed C grade and were then overtaken as the pressure went off. It was decided to let C grade get away which mean a rest for everyone. Prestige had time for his brain to regain some balance and as he went into “sit and sprint” mode for the remainder of the race.
The bell lap evolved in a now predictable fashion. Pete Whelan attacked on the King St Hill and Rob Monk had to chase over to him bringing the rest of the group up. As if on cue, Jason Dasty leapt off the front rounding the corner into the back straight. Charlie Davine and Jimmy Lalor chased him down. The bunch was intact rounding the final bend where Prestidge cut off Pete Whelan on the turn forcing him effectively out of the race. With four hundred meters to go the big track sprinter from Latrobe, Craig Skinner opened up the sprint. Rob Monk managed to grab his wheel and with 100 meters to race tried to come off it. Craig was still winding up and Rob was going as fast as he could. With 50 meters to go Skinner began to weaken and another heavyweight, Jayman Prestige emerged from the bunch. He had trailed Simon Baxter along the main straight and was now doing his best work approaching the line. Skinner, Monk and Prestidge, weighing in at a combined total of over 300kg, must have looked a frightening sight as they drove to the line. Prestidge was just too strong taking the win from Skinner with Monk in third. Baxter finished strongly to take fourth spot.
The C and D grade combined as well to make a field of fifteen riders. D graders Colin Manitveld and Micheal Blackwood struggled to hold on after lap four and were forced to do some individual time trial work. Ray York was tailed off as well but managed to catch and pass Matt Williamson and Terry Kelly who were also dropped after Ray. It was the pressure being exerted by Neil Walker and Jayden Manitveld in particular that was making it difficult for the lesser riders. They forced the pace on King St each lap. Unfortunately for the large field the race finished in confusion. The bunch was given “two to go” but when they passed the start finish line they did not receive the bell. Some riders thought they were sprinting and other though they still had a lap to go. There was no way the George Tambassis was leaving anything to chance.
Tambassis like Prestidge had been brought up under the guidance of Cyling Zen Master, Bill Frew. Frew’s message is simple. “Hate your opponents and win at all costs.” The message must be working as Tambassis made it two from two for the Frew stable, taking the win from Chris Henne and Zvonko Maric. The victory was shrouded in controversy though as half the field did not contest the sprint. Frew’s response; “Who cares, my men won!”
Next week is the Club Criterium Championship. Riders will not race in grades but in age groups. Medals and titles are up for grabs to all club members should be there.