Bridge takes line honours


by Jayman Prestidge

GT Trikes

Warragul Cycling Club held a Handicap race at the 11.3 km Cloverlea circuit. Twenty-one racers took to the start line, with a 16 minute gap between the limit and scratch groups. The racers would have to complete four laps of what is a popular circuit.

Spring is a fantastic time of year to race given the variable conditions, with wind, rain and sun, all creating the need for racers to adjust their tactics accordingly. The Cloverlea circuit is 11.3km in length and largely flat. When the West wind blows however, the circuit takes on a more difficult challenge, with the need for the groups of riders to hold each others wheels closely and spend their fair share of time on the front in order to save energy and stay ahead of the chasing groups.

The limit group was strong on paper, with the ever improving Conor Bagot teaming with Matt Williamson, Duane McDonald, Club President Richard Bridge, and the ageing warrior Rod ‘Snowy’ Cheyne. They were sent off at 8.30am.

Five minutes in arrears were a group of five racers, including the the experienced Steve Muggeridge who would be useful in leading his team mates including Neil Edwards, Mark Mason, visiting Leongatha Cycling Club junior Ollie McLean, and first-time racer for the year Ryan McGregor.

Jason Tubnor was the sole Warragul Cycling Club Member in the next group who departed a further three minutes back on the Muggeridge lead group. Roland Eldson (Latrobe Cycling Club), Simon Forbes (Wellington Cycling Club), and Harrison McLean (Leongatha Cycling Club) were the other three to complete this group.

Linda Tubnor was the sole female entrant in today’s race. The beauty of handicap racing is the start times of all racers are adjusted to ensure that all riders get a fantastic race experience. Linda was set away ten minutes after the limit bunch, but with one less lap to complete.

The second last group to leave the starter’s gate, known as the ‘chopping block’, was lead by returning racer Josh Akarsu, Peter Whelan and Jayman Prestidge. This bunch was disadvantaged by a late scratching, which meant it would be difficult for three riders in the windy conditions to erase the four minute deficit to the Jason Tubnor lead group.

Finally, the fastest group, called the ‘scratchmen’, launched from the start line at 8.46am. Shane Stiles, Matt Parkinson, Brett Rollinson and Brett Kennedy would need to work extremely well together to erase the sixteen minute deficit to the Richard Bridge lead scratch group.

Racing was on in earnest and each of the groups worked well to share the load. Whilst the limit group did lose one of their team on the first lap, the rest of the group remained together until the race finish. Despite Rod ‘Snowy’ Cheyne being in his early sixties, his team commended his strong efforts into the wind along Parkers Road.

The scratchmen were working extremely well together and by the end of lap two were almost rubbing the tyres of the Akarsu lead chopping block group. With the catch of that group occurring just after the turn onto Hazeldene Road, the pace increased as the group went from four to nine riders.

Despite their efforts and increasing lap speeds they could only catch the Jason Tubnor lead group. The scratchmen did achieve the fastest time for the four laps with Shane Stiles taking out this prize in a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes and 1 second.

Despite strong efforts by all of the riders in the Steve Muggeridge lead group, they could not catch the limit group that still had four of their five starters in tact. They were tantalisingly close however, with Richard Bridge crossing the line in first position, with another seven racers finishing within fifty metres of each other.

Duane McDonald crossed the line in second place with Mark Mason sprinting across for third. Neil Edwards sprinted across for fourth with Conor Bagot rounding out the podium for fifth place.

Conor has only recently taken to racing and it’s terrific to see his skills and fitness deliver him to within five seconds of victory. In fact, it may have been his great performance at Leongatha’s race on Saturday that took the strength out of his legs to take out the win today!

Warragul Cycling Club prides itself on getting new riders like Conor into racing, so if you are thinking that you’d like to give racing a try please email the Club at

Next Sunday’s race starts at 8.30am at the extremely popular Burke Street Criterium.

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