By Neil Walker
Warragul Cycling Club was once again blessed by the weather Gods on Saturday as they held a handicap race over four laps of the Cloverlea circuit. With two of the clubs main protagonists away on holiday, Rob Monk on a soul finding mission in the Northern Territory and Jayman Prestidge doing what every cycling fanatic dreams of, following the Tour de France in France, the race was likely to have a slightly different flavour. In a handicap the riders are divided into groups according to their ability and set off at varying times with the lower graded riders heading off first. The idea is for the first riders away not be caught by the groups behind and for each subsequent group to catch the group in front, and then get to the finish line first. Shane Stiles, the club race director and handicapper, had the job of setting the groups and working out the time gaps; this was put to the test with visiting riders and people that hadn’t raced for some time.
The first two riders, Frank Bensted and Mitch Jones were given 20 minutes on the scratch bunch. Next to leave the starting block 8 minutes later were Trudi Gallagher, Daniel Dilger, Andrew Gordon, Rod Cheyne and Luke Gallagher, on paper this group looked to be the dark horse.
The third group to set off 16 minutes later were what is known as the chopping block. There is usually plenty of talent scattered throughout this group but they very rarely manage to stay away from the scratch group. This group comprised of Ross Henry, Scott Keeble, James Lalor, George Tambassis, Geoffrey Thomson, Peter Wheelan, and Tim Lee. The final bunch was the scratch group, the top riders on the day at least on paper, and they left 4 minutes later. Peter Finlayson, Phil Gallagher, Leigh Hauxwell, Jarred Jones, Matt Mallacarne, Graeme Parker, and Shane Stiles, the other groups would have to work hard in the windy conditions along Parkers Road to stay away from this group.
There were some early casualties with Luke Gallagher, Andrew Gordon, Tim Lee, and Scott Keeble getting dropped by their respective groups and the two out markers being caught on the second lap. The trio left from the second bunch of Trudi, Danny, and Rod seemed to be working well together, with Danny showing much better form than previous weeks. George Tambassis discovered that having a Greek souvlaki with extra garlic sauce before the event was not good race food, and was awarded the fastest toilet stop at the presentation. By the third lap the scratch and chopping block had combined and if they worked well together could win the race. But as so often happens, the lack of commitment by some riders disrupts the flow of the group and the cohesiveness is gone. The time they had to make up at the start of the final lap was 4 minutes even though they had been lapping consistently around 17 minutes.
As the riders loomed over the crest towards the finish line, surprisingly there were only three in the group. Daniel Dilger opened the sprint with 100 meters to go and managed to hold off a fast finishing Trudi Gallagher with Rod Cheyne fading in the final meters. The main group rolled in like Brown’s cows a minute later, clearly exhausted from a final lap chase, with Jarred Jones from the scratch group claiming the fastest time.
- Daniel Dilger
- Trudi Gallagher
- Rod Cheyne
- Fastest time Jarred Jones.
The club now has a break from racing which will return n August 25 where we kick off a 6 week handicap series. Race 1 is at Cloverlea at 2pm.