By Rob Monk
Warragul Cycling Club Members contested the Jack McGowan Handicap at Modella on Saturday. The race is hosted by Caulfield Carnegie Cycling Club and is a handicap. Over 80 competitors would compete of the flat but windswept 98km course that starts at Modella and goes to Longwarry, Garfield, Nar Nar Goon, Bayles and back to Modella. Riders did two laps of this circuit.
Warragul was well represented. In the limit group with 30 minutes head start on scratch were Dwayne McDonald, Richard Bridge and Nicole Summerfield.
In the 15 minute group Geoff Thompson, Rob Monk and Brett Kennedy thought they were a chance. They had Latrobe strong man, Justin Gravett in their group as well.
In the 10 minute bunch was Matt Parkinson.
Graeme Parker was in the 7 minute bunch, Shane Stiles was in the 3 minute bunch and Cy Monk was off Scratch.
With strong head and cross winds on the trip to Longwarry and Garfield the bunches stayed together. In handicaps there is safety in numbers with the workload being shared by many. When the 15 minute bunch took the left turn at Nar Nar Goon headed for Bayles, Justin Gravett put the hammer down and the group split. Gravett, Kennedy, Monk and one other rider had to decide to whether to wait or press on with only four riders. This is was not an easy decision as 70km of racing remained.
Push on they did though and caught the 20 minute bunch just after the finish of Lap 1. In this group Australian Masters Champion Chris Joustra had somehow slipped under the handicappers guard. He had towed his bunch around almost singlehandedly to this point and was keen to go faster. In the cross wind to Bayles, Joustra, Rob Monk and Kennedy put it in the gutter and rode away from the remnants of the combined Limit, 20 minute and 15 minute groups. The trio worked together for the 20 kilometres to the finish.
The Cy Monk led scratch group had slowly picked up all the bunches in front. They caught chopping block early on Lap 1. Shane Stiles worked hard to help scratch work through the bunches. They caught all but Joustra, Brett Kennedy and Rob Monk in the finishing straight.
Two minutes later the scratch bunch finished. Cy Monk took the sprint to collect 4th place overall and fastest time for the day.