Racing was livened up on Saturday with the arrival of a team of cyclists from St.Kilda Cycling Club who were in the area for a training camp. One of the benefits of cycling is that once you have a race licence you can turn up anywhere in Australia where they are holding a race and join in. The St.Kilda crew certainly showed the locals up by winning both A and B grade.
Seventeen riders started the combined A and B grade race. After 5 of the 8 Laps a natural selection occurred and 3 of the 4 A graders were off the front and riding into the distance. Pete Finlayson was the only Red Number to not make the split. Steve Lane launched a solo attack on Lap 5 and dangled off the front for an entire circuit. Stiles and Hale jumped across to him and put the hammer down, riding away from the remainder of the field. In the sprint for A grade honours, Stiles went from the corner but weakened near the line allowing Hale then Lane to get over the top to take 1st and 2nd.
Prior to this the racing had been aggressive with many short lived breaks. Scott Keeble was keen to get off the front and did half the first lap on his own. Lucy Coldwell did a full circuit off the front on lap 2 but Stiles and Steve Lane were not letting anyone go too far. Nicole Justice and Maranda Griffiths were keen to get into breaks and showed some of the Warragul boys how to race aggressively.
Once the A graders escaped Griffiths tried hard to organise a chase but some of the Warragul boys were reluctant to join in. Cy Monk and Charlie Davine seemed to be conserving energy for the finish and Keeble and Whelan had already retired from the race after being dropped. Thommo and Rob Monk rolled a few turns with the girls but it was clear that there were more passengers than workers.
The St.Kilda girls soon grew tired of the Warragul blokes sitting on and they went to plan B. They took it in turns to attack off the front on the final lap. Coldwell went at the beginning of Darum Park Road but Rob Monk chased her down. Griffiths was next to go but again was matched by Jayman Prestidge. Nicole Justice took off on the rise to the Milk factory and Cy Monk looked to have the move covered. Justice and Monk drew away from the field but Cy made a crucial tactical error. He decided that Justice was weakening and would be caught so decided to leave her out there and rolled back to the peloton. He was wrong.
From the moment he left her, Justice powered away. Rob Monk felt the need to make up for his son’s tactical ineptitude and sacrificed his chances of winning by doing everything he could to bring back the break but no-one else would help.
An exhausted Justice took the win by 20 meters from a bunch of Warragul men who were fresh enough to sprint but not contribute to the chase. Davine won the bunch sprint for second with Thommo third, Prestige fourth. Well done Nicole, a deserved victory; a first by a female rider in B grade at the WCC for a very long time.
An evenly matched field of 10 riders contested C grade. The breakaway men, Dastey, Yeatman and Muggeridge took it in turns to attack, dangle and be caught. When one got up the road the other two would chase always assisted by Justin Prestidge who knows no other way to ride than to be on the front.
Tambassis was keen to orchestrate a sprint finish and contributed encouragement and a few turns to any chase down efforts.
James Blyth and Pete Davine didn’t appear much at the pointy end. Tom Heard and Trudy Gallagher rode well and contributed when they could.
On the final lap Dastey took off, as usual. Tambassis had recruited Prestidge as his blue heeler. Prestige will chase anything. Dastey was caught at the beginning of Darnum Park Rd. At this point Trudi, Justin and Jason had a break on the field and had they put the power down they may have stayed away.
In the finish it all came down to a sprint. Dastey, his Achilles heel exposed again, led it out as usual. The golden Greek was licking his chops as a he knows Dastey is slow. Tambassis didn’t figure on a young lad who’d played little part in the earlier attacks and chases. Pete Davine followed Dastey’s wheel , powered past him and was too quick for Tambassis in the charge to the line. Davine first, Tambassis second, Yeatman third and Muggeridge is getting stronger each week and took fourth. Dastey finished nowhere again.
D Grade raced over 5 laps. Having her first start in a race Michelle Scurr did a great job, staying with the group for 3 laps.
John Davine, Terry Kelly, Dave Baillie and Frank Benstead circulated together for the whole race. Davine tried hard to shake them on the last lap but Frank hung on doggedly and fought his way back a couple of time with the help of Dave. The Silver Fox, Terry Kelley, fresh from a solid training camp at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, was primed and ready for the sprint. Davine gave it his all up the hill but Kelly used all his 83 years of race experience to time his run past and take the win. Davine second and Baillie third. Benstead was again close near the finish.
Racing next week is at Shady Creek.