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by David Tozer
In a change from normal scheduling, Mildura-Coomealla Cycling Club conducted a road race (40km) rather than the normal mid-week time trial. Cyclists apparently enjoyed the changed format and seemed primed for a big effort in the last race before the Christmas Break. The club handicapper was also in a festive mood, his announcement of an all in scratch race, brought a smile to the faces of the A-grade riders, however, the handicapper qualified his statement by allowing the C-grade riders a four minute start.
It is testament to the closing gap between A & B grade riders that a combined scratch event can be conducted. Usually this grouping would mean an almost automatic podium finish for the A-graders but many of the B-grade riders are now able to not only stay with the scratch riders but also attack the bunch, given the right conditions.
The peleton's first objective was to catch the C-grade riders; it was evident early on that this task was going to be achieved. Early in the second of five laps, all riders were together. It was not long after the union that the attacks began.
Arthur Anderson was taking a very pro-active approach, as always Arthur was not going to finish the race wondering. Any time the bunch pace dropped off you could be certain that Arthur would be up the road. Riders to accompany Anderson, were Ian Brade, Harvey Dwyer and Peter Mills.
Few of the attacks posed any threats to the main bunch. The stronger riders were able to organise the pack quickly to ensure that the breaks were shut down.
As the race entered the final lap of eight kilometres, Ian Brade attempted another breakaway. This was by far the most promising of the night, especially as the pack did not seem interested in chasing. With around three kilometres to ride, Brade still had a break of 200 metres and looked a half chance for a solo win, however, back in the pack, Damien Wells had other ideas. Damien is a newcomer to road racing and has been a successful downhill mountain bike racer in the past. The welcome addition to the club raced out of the pack in an attempt to bridge the gap.
The move from wells initiated moves from most of the major contenders, Tankard, Dwyer and Tozer and others joined Wells and Brade in the final selection. It was obvious that neither Tankard or Tozer were willing to lead out into the sprint, Damien Wells sensed an opportunity and at about 500 metres out, attacked again. His timing was perfect, none of the remaining riders were willing to do the hard chasing and by the time they did start to sprint, Wells had the event wrapped up. Many cyclists would remember the joy of their first race win, Damien was basking in that, well deserved, glory, unfortunately he then performed an impromptu salute by forgetting to unclasp his shoes from his pedals and ended up laying on the side of the road still attached to his bicycle. This was a classic example of the ups and downs of cycle racing. It also provided plenty of amusement for the other cyclist and officials.
Club members were then invited by the club President to have a Christmas drink back at the Golf Club. This was the perfect way to end one of the most successful years in the clubs history. All riders eagerly await January 21st 2002.
1 Damien Wells (B Grade) 2 David Tozer (A Grade) 3 Kevin Tankard (A Grade)
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