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Warragul CC Criterium Series #3
January 17, 2003
Thrills and spills for the final of the Crit Series
By Dr Justen O'Connor
The cool conditions and downpour just prior to the final of the three race crit series failed to keep a huge field of 55 riders from turning up. The large numbers, wet conditions and criterium format would challenge the skills and courage of most.
The winner of the A-Grade series and a little cash was on the line as the 11 cyclists headed on their way. Scott Keeble, Shane Stiles, Dave Salton and John Salton were all in contention meaning attacks were the order of the day.
The race was only 3 laps old when Danny Dilger succumbed to the conditions and ultimately withdrew with mechanical issues. Matty Malacarne’s flat tyre left him feeling deflated on lap four and his race was over. John McKenzie was not there to race but rather prepare himself for Ballarat and along with Keith Tohmholt they lost touch with the bunch early.
The next casualty of the constant surging and slippery road was Geoff Thomson who retired at the half-way point. Darren Spiteri soon joined him on the sidelines after feeling the pinch on the eighth lap.
Shane Stiles and Scott Keeble were keen not to allow John Salton an easy ride and therefore an easy sprint win. Scott slipped off the front for a couple of laps and found himself with Gerard Donnelly who was apparently returning from a lap out after a fall. Shane and Dave were the only ones able to bridge the gap and it was this group that ultimately fought out the sprint.
A fall by an attacking Dave Salton on corner one slowed proceedings for a while but in the final lap the group readied for a sprint. Gerard did some of the lead out work with Scott on his wheel. Shane gambled on Dave Salton’s wheel and despite the best efforts of some cooling down B-Grade riders to obstruct the sprint, was able to lever off him and make the victory salute as he crossed the line.
Dave crossed in second followed by Scott, Gerard and John. The win handed Shane the series title with a win, a second and a third placing.
B-Grade started with 15 and the trend for the day was set when on lap two Paul Yeatman rode straight through the now notorious corner 3 and somersaulted over the gutter. He bounced back and later rejoined.
Only two laps later four cyclists, including series leader Peter Finlayson, thought they would rather slide across the bitumen than risk a closer inspection of a solid object on the opposite side. Shaken but not stirred the group reformed and the pace was on again.
Justen O’Connor strained his shoulder in avoiding the carnage and after an indulgent summer strained his myocardium climbing the hill and withdrew on lap seven.
In the penultimate lap the 3 chasing Steves were involved in another mix up on corner 3. Steve Sandner hit the deck narrowly missing Steve Hall while Steve Twining with nowhere to go rode over the top of him and into the ground. Looking like a colourful pirate Steve Twining rolled back to the start finish with one of his lenses missing.
Having done a share of the work Peter Finlayson still had enough left to ride away from Phil Gallagher and Garry Wishart to take the win and the series. Tim, Chris Beales, Ross, Charles, Chris Jones, James and Paul rounded out the finishers.
C-Grade rode a cautious race with Glen Fisher, suffering flashbacks from an earlier fall on the circuit, slowing the pace through the corners.
Despite frequent efforts from Rob Monk up the hill none of the 10 cyclists were really willing to test the friction threshold of their rubber and subsequently the pace was moderate. Simon Baxter, Monique, Trevor and Terry were content to motor around without launching any serious or sustained attacks.
An early attack on the last lap saw a disorganised bunch try to get back. Simon did some work to bridge but was subsequently spent for the sprint. Rob Monk’s eyes lit up a little too early and his race was over with 200 to go.
In the finish the cool head and careful positioning of Terry Kelly paid off as he crossed the line in first. Glen Fisher finished second with Michael Pridmore third.
D-Grade hosted the biggest field with nineteen starters. Rod Atkinson was the first casualty falling in lap 3 and the bunch really started to separate shortly after. Luke Hanley and the flying wheelie bin, Lloyd Harrington, made the decisive attack and pulled 10 seconds on the bunch with 3 laps to go.
In the end Luke, keen to break into C-Grade ranks in order to beat his sister, stoushed it out with Lloyd for the sprint finish. Preferring to stay on the hoods neither rider had the energy to really stand up and pound the pedals and Luke finished the stronger. Dave Axford finished third.
Cloverlea provides the setting for the handicap race next Saturday and a big field is expected to attend.
A - Grade 1 Shane Stiles 2 Dave Salton 3 Gerard Donnelly 4 John Salton B - Grade 1 Peter Finlayson 2 Phil Gallagher 3 Gary Wishart 4 Tim Lee C - Grade 1 Terry Kelly 2 Glen Fisher 3 Michael Pridmore D - Grade 1 Luke Hanley 2 Lloyd Harrington 3 Dave Axford
Local results 2004