Handicaps are a numbers game. A group of four riders evenly matched will beat a group of three. That was the case on Saturday as four committed men, evenly matched and generously handicapped, caught all in front but just stayed away from those chasing; a perfect day for the middle men with George Tambassis taking it out the race.
The limit group of five looked a chance on paper this week. Ray York, Andrew Gordon, Colin Manintveld, Renee Patrick and Greg Horbowitz had 24 minutes head start on scratch. When there were still four of them together after one lap, a rare occurrence for a limit group, they were genuine threat to stay away. They completed lap one in a reasonable time of 34’15” with only Greg Horbowitz displaced.
Following them a further 7 minutes back, 17 minutes in front of scratch was the trio of David Baillie, Mariah Dastey and Matt Williamson. These three combined superbly completing lap one in 31’45” and lap two in 31’35”. By then end of lap two they were a mere 1’20 from the leaders and looked sure to catch them.
Pre race favorites Tom Heard, Paul Kennedy and Zonko Maric were giving the group in front a 3 minute head start and they completed lap one in 30’30” so were on pace to catch them. But lap two they slowed though and were caught from behind.
The 9 minute bunch of Col Brown, Greame Patrick, Trev Rollinson and George Tambassis had the numbers and when they ripped off a first lap in 27’45” and lap2 in 28’40” they had all before them in sight.
Chasing the 9 minute group with a 6 minutes on scratch were Simon Baxter and Jayden Manintveld. They had made the tactical decision to wait for the 4 minute group of Rob Monk and Jayman Prestidge who did catch them on the decent of Shady creek on lap one. Monk and Prestidge completed lap one in 26’30”. The now group of four rode all the way to finish together. They completed lap 2 in 27’15 and lap 3 in 27’25 catching no one and not being caught from behind either; a long and lonely grind for Monk, Prestige, Maniveld and Baxter.
On the chopping block were Cy Monk, Geoff Thomson and Pete Whelan. They had two minutes on the scratch duo of Justin Gravett, Jim Timma Arens and Pete Finlayson. Thommo’s group was caught at the beginning of lap two and as hard as Big Jim tried he could not make up the ground required to catch anyone. Whelan ran up the white flag after two laps leaving the scratch and chopping block to complete their laps in a consistent 26’00” for lap 1, 26’15” for lap 2 and 26’ 45” for lap 3. They caught a few stragglers only.
The limit pair of Ray York and Colin Manintveld still held a lead of 1’20” getting the bell for the final lap. Would that be enough for York to get over the Shady Creek hill before being caught? The answer was no. Baillie, Dastey and Williamson went past the limit riders near the top of the hill and only Colin Manintveld was able to get on. Further down the hill the group of Brown, Patrick, Tambassis and Rollinson flew past Kenney, Heard and Maric. Zvonko was the only one of the trio who managed to stay on up the hill.
By Sthurs Rd the Brown led bunch had caught all before them. Monk, Prestige, Jayden Manintveld and Baxter had the big group in sight nearing the finish but just could not get across to them.
In the sprint Trev Rollinson looked the winner 100 meters from home. He cranked it up and looked over his left shoulder and saw he’d gapped the field. Right on his wheel though the cunning, George Tambassis dared not change a gear for fear Trev would hear him. As Trev looked back Tambassis eased left into the blind spot making himself invisible in the ageing Trev’s diminishing peripheral vision. Trev was just about to raise the arms in triumph when, in typical Greek style Tambassis came from behind with a quick spurt and took the sprint.
A cursing Trev was relegated to second with Zvonko Maric in third. Then followed Col Brown, Matt Williamson, Greame Patrick and Mariah Dastey. Mariah needs to get better at the argy bargy of the sprint finish. She needs to throw a few head butts at husband Jason to practice.
Limit rider Colin Maniveld finished with the main group, eighth overall with David Baillie taking 9th. Big Jim took out fastest time.
Racing next week moves to Cloverlea.