By Rob Monk
A prerace deluge may have turned away some of the more fickle cyclists for race 1 of the Gippsland Combine Series. The seven race series sees races hosted by Latrobe City, Leongatha and Warragul Cycling Clubs. The rain was all over by race time and small but competitive fields got in early for the series points that were up for grabs.
In A grade Shane Stiles was at his psychotic best. He manipulated the race for his own amusement. First he let Blackburn CC and strong climber, Ash Ray get off the front for a couple of laps. He made sure everyone worked enough to keep Ray within 30 seconds. Ray grew bored and in an act of arrogance that infuriated Stiles, Ray sat up and waited for the chasers. When Ray turned around at the top of Shady Creek and rode back to the chasers Stiles hatched plan B.
A number of attacks were launched and each time Stiles told Ray, “He’s my teammate.” and refused to chase. Eventually Tom McNish took off and Ray was too tired to chase. Tom took the win in a strong breakaway. Stiles was second and Leigh Stott was third. Ray was fourth and he will learn not to mess with Rupert in future. Connor Bagot is headed for B grade and was a distant fifth.
The B grade race was a typical B grade affair. Some strong guys doing most of the work with some lazy sit on sprinters, well, sitting on. The strong men were Aaron Nash and Ross Henry. They did more work than anyone else. Others to contribute were George Tambassis, Pete Finlayson and Syd Jackson. Rob Monk and Jayman Prestidge did absolutely nothing the whole race. Graeme Parker ramped up the pressure on the final climb but couldn’t drop the hangers on. He pushed the pace again on Sturs Road but still the bunch remained together. With four kilometres to go Tambassis and Parker snuck off the front and established a 100 meter break. Now if they had have worked hard together they would probably have stayed away. After some discussion they decided that was going to be too hard so they sat up.
Jayman Prestidge, in a tactical blunder towed the whole field across to them. As is usually the case in B grade a bunch sprint would determine the result. Parker and Tambassis had way too much jump for the rest of the group. Parker was too quick for Tambassis and took the win. Monk got as close to the front as he had the whole race when he crossed the line in third. Then followed the second freshest rider in the bunch, Prestidge who finished fourth. Syd Jackson was fifth. Out of the series points were the three riders who’d spent most time on the front for the race, Finlayson, Nash and Henry.
In C grade Thommo and John Taylor rode with B grade for a lap and a half then had their own race. John was victorious.
The next race hosted by the club is the Tim McArdle handicap. In a break with tradition it will be staged at 9.00AM on theFriday Public Holiday before the Grand Final (27th of September). Registration is at Darnum from 8.30 onwards. All licenced racers are welcome to enter. Entry link.