By Rob Monk
The major handicap race of the year for the Warragul Cycling Club is the Tim McArdle Handicap. This was the 16th running of the trophy race. Some riders target the race, hiding their form under a bushel in the weeks leading up to race in the hope they can sneak into a favorable bunch. Matt Bradshaw from Full Steam Ahead Carpet Cleaning had added to the incentive by providing a $450carpet cleaning voucher for the winner.
Honest riders like Donna INNES-WARDELL always do their best. Donna was off limit with 30 minutes head start on scratch. Next away was Nicole Summerfield and Edward DaBinett. They were soon caught by the group of 13 minutes which contained Col Manintveld, Al Timmer Arends, Snowy, Geoff Thompson and John Taylor. The ten minute bunch containing Thomas Sandner, Rob Monk, Jayman Prestidge and Pete Finlayson teamed well from the start. That was until the end of lap one when Prestidge lost contact of the hills near Bonlac. The group waited for him but the same thing happened on lap 2 and there was no more waiting.
With 7 minutes head start on scratch the group of Aaron Nash, Jack Williams, Ross Henry, George Tambassis, Jason Fritzlaff and Connor Bagot were handicapped to win. Hypothetically, they should have been able to catch the 10 minute group and stay away from chopping block. On the block were Spitzy, Matt Parkinson, Peter Macdonald, Leigh Stott, Graeme Parker, Ty Hall, Tom Reid and Garth. A group of 8 strong riders but they only had 3 minutes head start on Scratch.
The Scratch group were Shane Stiles, Ash Ray, Big Jim TimmerArends, Stef Kirsch, Chris Joustra, Brett Kennedy, Sequoia Fran, and Paul Collins. They had the numbers to power through the other groups; but did they have the speed.
By mid race it was clear the the 10 minute bunch of Monk, Finlayson and Sandner were going to be hard to catch. They had caught the 13 minute group and were getting good help from Col Manintveld and occasionally Al TimmerArends. Thommo sat on the back contributing nothing but advice.
Scratch were making inroads on the 3 minute gap to the chopping block group and caught them early in lap 4 of 6. A big group of 16 riders stayed together until Stuhrs Rd when Stef and Paul Collins decided to put it in the gutter and get rid of the passengers. They dropped all but Tom Reid from the 3 minute group.
At the bell the 10 minute group still looked the goods. Monk, Sandner and Finlayson continued to work but Manintveld had lost contact. Halfway downs Stuhrs Rd Monk had a look over the shoulder and still couldn’t see the chasers. Handicappers guilt set in as he realized his group would not be caught. Al tried a late attack Monk made sure the group kept working to bring him back.
In the home straight Thomas tried an early sprint but it was quickly neutralized. Finlayson hit out up the hill and Thomas was quick to respond. Monk tried to sprint but was spent. Thommo seemed very fresh though as he hadn’t been near the front for three laps. In a grinding lunge for the finish Finlayson took his second Tim McArdle handicap win. He previously won it in 2005 on our old Picnic Point course. Thomas just hung on from a fast finishing Thommo to take second place. The combined age of the podium was over 180 years. There is life in these old blokes yet.
Rolling in 60 seconds later were the 7 minute bunch. They had caught no-one but were not caught either. Shane Stiles took out fastest time in the scratch bunch.
Race two of the Gippsland Combine series is on this Sunday 6th of October at Mardan. Sign on at the Leongatha Secondary College at 9.30 for a 10.00am start. Online entry is here.