To liven up the Warragul racing on Saturday someone decided to move the finish line. They moved it to the top of the Shady Creek hill. The 1.6km climb to finish and 30+ degree temperatures at the end of the race made it an unforgiving day for all.
A and B grade combined and the first lap was a mixed tempo. Shane Stiles looked keen to race and took Neil Walker, Graeme Parker and Clem Fries with him up the road. This quartet worked up to 500 meters off the front of the chasing group. At the bottom of the hill on lap one the chasers had the break in sight but on the hill, several of the climbers tried to get across the gap. Many of the field were in the red zone but only Jayman Prestidge was dropped from the bunch. Prestidge did make it back on after half a lap of chasing but he was never going to feature in the finish. A flat track bully seems an appropriate description of Prestidge.
The three A graders, Stiles, Kane Walker and Jason Laird were allowed to break away on lap 2 but they were not keen to test each other out so decided to sit on the back on the race for the remainder of the day.
Rob Preston was frustrated with the muddling pace on lap 2 so he took off alone for a time.
Climb 2 was uneventful and when Preston went off the front again on lap 3 and Neil Walker joined him the peloton still seemed reluctant to chase. First Graeme Parker then Rob Monk jumped across to the break and there was now a working group of four off the front.
The four worked together up the climb on Lap 3 but nearing the top Parker then Monk found the pace set by Neil Walker too much. Going over the top Preston and Walker led by less than 200 meters but the chasers were all at their limit. Preston and Walker held their slender lead for much of the last lap. They were still 200 meters in front at the bottom of the final climb. Laird and Roland Elstrom jumped from the chasing peloton in search of the leaders. Preston was still going strong but Walker was weakening. Preston had to pull out everything to beat the fast finishing Jason Laird to the line. Roland was a clear third. Neil Walker was rolled by half a wheel by Thommo for fourth spot. Then followed Pete Whelan, Rob Monk, Glen Marriot and Clem Fries.
C grade was really two races in one. For the first time since the club Championships last year the three fastest females in the club would like up in the same race. Kate Prestidge, Mariah Dastey and Trudi Gallagher would finally face off in a race. This contest was short lived as Mariah struggled to hold on to the bunch and didn’t last lap one. Trudi and Kate matched it with the boys the first two times up the fill but Trudi suffered hamstring cramps and withdrew before the finish. Kate was still with the leaders at the bell but could not manage to get her gears into the big chain ring on the decent so was dropped. She did take out the prize of first female rider home and the title of fasted female rider in the club, at least for this week.
The first climb was a sedate affair and despite some riders being dropped, the pack of ten was back together by Sthrs Road.
On the climb of lap 2, the bunch strung out towards the top and again, the bunch reformed on the descent.
On the third climb, the C grade men split the bunch apart quickly, with Leigh Haxuwell, Ross Henry and James Blyth being too strong for the others. Grame Patrick was next over the top followed about 50 meters back by Prestidge. Yeatman was next and was determinined to cath the leaders. He passed Kate on the descent and Patrick along the flat. Yeatman and Patrick swapped some turns and lost 10 seconds to the leading 3 riders along Sthurs Road.
Patrick didn’t make it as Yeatman upped the pace about 2km out from the regular finish and had having clawed back 30 seconds from the turn onto the Darnum Shady Creek Road, caught the leaders towards the end of the descent before the final climb.
Hauxwell put the pressure on and Henry was the only one who could follow on the final ascent. At the 200 meter mark Ross cracked and Leigh went on to record his third win from four races. He has also earned promotion to B grade. Ross finished second with Paul Yeatman completing an amazing chase to take out third from James Blyth.
Terry Kelly finally met his match in D grade but it took something special to beat him. The 86 year old Kelly was bested by 12 year old David Currie. David, from the strong Caulfield Carnegie club put the pressure on up the climb each time. He and Tom Lucus were able to gap Terry, Lou Clark and Frank Benstead each time up but were chased down on the decent. David was too strong for Terry on the final climb with Tom third and Louise fourth and Frank fifth.
Cazz Clarke was looking to make it two wins in a row in E grade but Col Maninitveld had other ideas. Col was just too strong on the final climb and was able to beat Cazz to the top. Adele Whelan continues to improve each race and was on the podium in third spot. Mathieson Jenkin and Annie Pryjmak were not far back in fourth and fifth place.
Next week’s race is at Cloverlea.