By Rob Monk
Race three of the Parkinsons Refrigerated Transport Handicap Series attracted 37 riders keen to race what starts in much the same way as a team time trial.
Handicapper Pete Finlayson was under pressure on Saturday to stop the scratch bunch winning again. They’d won race 1 and 2 of the Parkinsons Refrigerated Transport series so drastic measures on the handicap sheet had to be taken. He moved Cy Monk from scratch to 30 seconds behind scratch. Cy would start on his own. The chopping block group was off 2 minutes with a large 3.5 minute gap to the next group. The backmarkers were in trouble.
This did not stop the scratchies giving it their best. Cy Monk broke the Darnum Lap Record on Lap one to catch the group in front. Scratch and chopping block then combined to break the 5 lap record for the Darnum circuit but it was not quick enough.
The 5.5 minute bunch had no one under 40 years of age and they used their experience to ride a nearly perfect handicap. Rob Monk, Ross Henry, Jayman Prestidge, Neil Walker, Col Brown and George Tambassis were like a well oiled machine from the start (especially George). Walker was a slow machine but he still did his turns with aplomb. The times for their first three laps were within 3 seconds of each other. The secret to good handicap riding is to not go out too hard and maintain your speed, just like a team time trial.
They caught the 7 minute bunch of Geoff Thomson, Roland Elsdom, Greg Spencer and Bruce Staben on lap 4. From here on the pace quickened as Spencer, Elsdom and Thomson contributed strongly to the pace making. Thompson was doing his first work at the front of a bunch for a month so it was obvious he thought the handicaps were on his side and he was a chance of victory.
By Sturs Rd on the final lap they had caught all the other groups and many riders were sitting in getting a free ride. Monk and Thomson were having none of that. They vociferously encouraged all capable to roll though and do a turn. Strong language may have been used for which they apologised after the race. Monk and Thomson had watched the chopping block group throw away a race last week with vacillation on the final lap, allowing the charging scratch men to catch. That would be no hesitation here. Sam Abbott, Greg Spencer and Hayden Johnson were willing workers. Scratch were doomed.
Cohesion only broke down on Darnum Park Rd on the final lap. Never one to let ability get in the way of ambition, Jayman Prestidge attacked on the second last hill. The green but super strong racer Sam Abbott went with him. She will learn with experience the wheels to follow. Prestidge is not one of them. They were dragged back by a strong effort from Neil Edwards. Rolland Elstrom was next to go up the road. The indefatigable Ross Henry did most of the chasing to bring Rolland back but he still held a 50 meter advantage with 400 meters to go.
Rob Monk was first to open up the sprint. He got a small gap and sped past Roland but Thommo was not going to let him win. Thommo wound up the 53 – 11 and went past Monk like he was glued to the road. Tambassis also went past but he was too late to catch Thommo. Geoff Thompson was first, George Tambassis second with Rob Monk in third. Then followed Rob Waddel, Greg Spencer, Neil Walker, Ross Henry, Hayden Johnstone, Neil Edwards and Roland Elsdon.
Sam Abbott was the first female finisher and Cy Monk took fasted time in a new course record. He completed the 40.9km in 57:26 an average speed of 42.7km/h.
- THOMSON Geoffrey 7mins Warragul
- TAMBASSIS George 5.5 mins Warragul
- MONK Rob 5,5 mins Warragul
- WADDEL Rob 9 mins Warragul
- SPENCER Greg 7 mins Warragul
- WALKER Neil 5.5 mins Warragul
- HENRY Ross 5.5 mins Warragul
- JOHNSTON Hayden 7 mins Warragul
- EDWARDS Neil 9 mins Warragul
- ELSDON Roland 7 mins LCCC
Fastest Time: Cy Monk
First Female: Sam Abbott
The final race of the series is on next Saturday, 9.00 am at Darnum.