By Rob Monk
It was a big day for C grade in the Warragul Cycling Club race on Saturday. They had the biggest field of the day and most were in the same outfit. Drouin Cycles new kit was on display for all to see. The C grade field was filled with former A and B grade riders who had clearly “let themselves go” but they were keen to dish out some punishment to the C graders on their way back.
Danny Dilger, Simon Baxter and Steve Roberts were prominent early in the race forcing the pace for the Drouin Cycles team. Col Manintveld and Dwayn MacDonald did some serious chasing to keep it all together. Rob Waddel saved his energy for finale. With two to go Simon Baxter went off the front and looked like the winner for a while. Col Maninveld did most of the chasing to bring him back. Frank Bensted put in a massive effort down the back straight to in an effort to break up the field. Only Brett Kennedy was able to go with him. Brett led into the home straight and in a great show of power riding held the lead all the way to the finish. Steve Muggeridge finished well to take second from Rob Waddel with Steve Roberts in fourth. Kennedy had definitely raced his last C grade race for a while. He will be in B grade from now on.
The Juniors combined with the women’s field to make a group of 6. Juniors Felicity Waddel, Macca Parkinson and Lachlan Rollinson did a great job swapping turns with Pam Bensted, Kristy Rollinson and Danielle Ready. Felicity was first to be dropped but she lasted for 20 minutes of the 30 minute race. Pam Bensted put the pressure on with 3 laps to go and this dropped Kristy from the bunch. Lachie, Macca and Danielle worked together to bring Pam back to the bunch. At the bell the lead group of four were all together and it was anyone’s race. Macca took the bold role of leading out the final lap. She corners well, better than her father, and this is a huge advantage at Endeavour Street. Rounding the last corner she put a couple of bike lengths into the others and she went for home. Pam Chased hard, so did Danni but she blew up quickly. A lack of racing took its toll. Danni will be better for the ride. Macca put a 20 meter gap into the chases and held it to the finish line to take a strong win. Lachlan and Pam staged an epic sprint for second with Lachlan just passing Pam in the shadows of the post. Pam was third with Danni fourth.
In A grade a quality field of 8 riders staged an eventful race. Jarryd Jones was the first to go off the front doing 4 or 5 laps solo before being brought back by the work of mainly Graeme Parker and Shane Stiles. Stiles, Jones, Dave Salton and Matt Parkinson were superior to the other riders in the corners. Cornering is not Joe Patrick’s strength but he was super strong on the straights. Once Jones was reeled back in Shane Stiles decided he needed some Individual time trial training. For the next 20 minutes he singlehandedly held off the chasers. A unique aspects of cornering on a bike is that you don’t really know how fast you can go around a corner until you go too fast. Matt Parkinson learnt this the hard way with 10 minutes to go. He attacked the bunch looking to bridge across to Stiles and went into the top corner at a speed that was never going to allow him to stay upright. He lost grip on the front wheel and crashed heavily. But being a hard man of the road he jumped up, remounted and didn’t even take a lap out. The pause in proceedings caused by Parkinson’s touch down allowed Stiles to further increase his lead. With 4 laps left Parker did some big turns to bring him back. Patrick and Jones were also strong in the chase. At the bell Stiles still held a substantial lead. Parker was done and only Parkinson, Jones and Patrick were able to maintain the chase. The rest of the field was dropped. Stiles was caught rounding the home turn and could not accelerate to catch the others. His 20 minute solo bid for victory would fall 400 meters short. Bike racing is cruel. Jarryd Jones was too quick for Joe Patrick in the sprint with a bloodied and battered Matt Parkinson a close third.
Next week’s race is the Tim McArdle Memorial Handicap. Racing is at Darnum. Register by 8.45 for a 9.00am start.