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Mildura-Coomealla Cycling Club
July 16, 2005
Murdoch Makes Mark
By Peter Winton
As predicted, Michael Murdoch proved too good for all comers in the Mildura-Coomealla Cycling Club's championship road race held at the 'Riverside' circuit on Saturday. 80kms (8 laps) of this circuit has been the benchmark of the club's championship races for many years and on Saturday the prevailing weather conditions of north westerly winds blowing through Mildura at 50km/h brought a little regular Port Fairy weather for us all to be thankful we don't live down there. Added to that inconvenience was a stinging shower of rain which seemed to be on Murdoch's wavelength as it occurred the moment he launched a serious attack into the headwind on the entire Club bunch. Oh yeah, was I thankful for that!
This attack, and the automatic reaction of the bunch to it, had an unforseen negative result for Scott Giles, as an untimely overtaking manoeuvre by a motorist caused this rider (and contender) to brake sharply and lose touch with the breakaways (Murdoch, Tankard and Gallagher).
The Club's executive had asked for the 'annual neutral lap' and the A grade riders obliged with a neutral 40km/h - how nice ! At least it was a buzz with the tailwind, but with only a couple of 'easy' calls it worked out pretty well. Lap 2 saw Peter Doody and Sean Gallagher establish a breakaway up the headwind section (Palms straight) with Arthur Anderson and a number of other riders who were unable to stay with them. As an example, Winton soon fell back to the comfort of the main group as his legs did not have the kilometres in them to maintain the output. This group were left out there by the pack-leading riders of Errol Schmidt, Ian Brade and Michael Murdoch. The bunch remained tightly packed and all together (for a moment).
On lap 3 another little breakway attempt was building, with Lokan making a move up the road to the Doody-Gallagher ensemble, then followed by Bassi-Anstee. A slight pause for a moment and Greg Scott called upon his 'Scott USA' to gallop a bit harder as he went forward. Still no reaction from the main players.
Then it soon went belly-up. Murdoch had waited until the bunch had strung itself out slightly and a local television utility positioned itself between the race leaders and the chasers, then whack! He was off, with Tankard and Giles peering down at the tread on his rear wheel ! For Giles, however, this attack was short-lived as another vehicle ambled up along the righthand side of the road and became messed up with the riders on the attack. Murdoch and Tankard found a slither of daylight to get through but the pumped-up Giles (fastest time winner twice in recent weeks) missed the gap and had to resort to the brake levers to avoid taking up a position in the back seat of the mid-sized four wheel drive.
45km/h on the pedals into the headwind and rain wasn't enough to bridge the myriad of gaps appearing as a result of the Murdoch assault. The once-solid race pack was now splintered; like a block of wood hit with an axe, bits were everywhere.
The main contenders had done their job in reducing the field to a select trio, that is, one other than themselves, this was Sean Gallaghers moment in the (absent) sun.
As the predominantly B grade elements of the Club fractured into three groups, and the C grade riders were mere flotsam and jetsam, there was only one thing to do - grind the remaining windswept laps out and hope to latch onto other tiring riders.
The bell rings in your ears and you tell your legs it's only another 17 minutes (more if you weaken) to complete the last lonely lap. To the rousing cheers and hand clapping even the lantern rouge rider (Gary Pitt) earns the recognition from all the clubbies in an uplifting show of encouragement.
Murdoch had broken Kevin Tankard down inside the last lap and drove it home in the closing 300 metres to win by 33 seconds, a well deserved win in tough conditions.
Next week is a relatively mild 64km handicap at Riverside (follow the same tyre marks...) in which it is my turn to win.
1 M Murdoch 2.09.06 2 K Tankard 0.33 3 S Giles 2.08 4 R Hale st 5 E Schmidt 2.09 6 R Akkermans 7 D Bassi-Anstee 8 J Mitchell 9 P Doody 10 J Lokan 11 A Anderson 12 G Scott 13 S Frawley 13 P Winton
Local results 2004