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Eastern Suburbs Cycling Club
Heffron Park, NSW, November 7 & 14, 2006
A Tale of Two Races
By John Sunde
The tales surrounding the past fortnight of Tuesday night racing at Heffron Park have taken on Charles Dickens proportions with claims of guilt, shame, blame, redemption and accusation of who did and didn't do a turn, the frequent topic of bunch chat. To put the record straight, without any favour or bias, here's what really happened. Firstly, off with the rose tinted lenses and on with the clear lenses.
School boy Ben Elliott in the winners circle
Tuesday 7th November is Melbourne Cup Day and while the two legged fillies were busy spilling out of Randwick racecourse, the form guide down the road at Heffron Park was torn up when a large and confident C grade held off the A and B grade fields to claim the top five places and the $240 prizemoney. Local Waverley College school boy 16 year old Ben Elliott claimed the $100 first prize when he outsprinted some very experienced and wily C graders. The win comes after only his second ever Tuesday night start and is sure to keep him well fed at the school tuckshop in the coming weeks.
With only $60 to split between first A and first B grader, the sprint for the remaining two envelopes still had all the excitement and drama of a Melbourne Cup finish. With barely the tread of a Conti GP to separate them, Robbie Cater held off Heffron King, Anthony Spurgeon to take the A grade win, while just behind them Nick Rathborne timed his home run perfectly for the second week in succession to win B grade.
Strongman Scott Simpson holds off the entire field
Tuesday 14 November and a gusty 50kph NE wind greeted the largest turnout so far of almost 90 riders, with B and C grades boasting similar sized bunches of over 30 starters each. With such large numbers it's no surprise a few riders still seem to slip under the experienced and watchful eye of the handicapper. No surprise either that winner of the burglar award for the first week of racing, Nathan Rollason has since found his form and gone on to win the Sutherland crit and Randwick Botany crit on consecutive days last weekend. Last weeks award goes to someone well known in the international burglar hall of fame, Dave Whyman (Clarence St ) who came off a very credible finish in the Port Macquarie Half Ironman to start in B grade - but more on Dave's performance this week later.
At least there was someone bucking the trend when schoolboy Ben Elliott after one start and one win in C grade started in B grade this week - congratulations to Randwick Botany for encouraging their riders to challenge themselves. Hopefully more riders (you all know who you are!) will follow young Ben's lead and step up to the mark.
The gusty headwind over the back section of the course and the cross tailwind down the straight made it hard for everyone, especially the larger B and C grade bunches who both battled to get consistent rhythm. A grade was being aggressively driven by Jose Rodriguez (Clarence St) and Paul Rowney (Easts), who's form seems to have come on nicely since he's been spending more time with his new training partner, Senor Corona. By the time A grade caught B grade just inside five laps to go, most of the C grade bunch had disintegrated in the wind except for powerhouse Easts rider Scott Simpson and tenacious veteran, Roger Shackleton (Manly). With big motor Troy Glennan absent after a hectic weekend on his mountain bike, A grade lacked the firepower to catch the C grade escapees and for the second week had to be content with the minor placings.
At the bell it was Dave Whyman, back riding A grade after his cruise in B grade last week, who had made the winning move with Irishman "I'm going to smash 'em" Dave Early (Easts) when they ghosted off the front. With his team mate up the road, Paul Rowney quickly lost interest in the chase, which left the rest of the bunch to jostle for the inevitable gallop.
Meanwhile Scott Simpson, surely riding his last C grade race, laid down his considerable power to ride away for a comprehensive solo win. Dave Whyman found his legs to finish 2nd, not bad for a former B grader, while C grade escapee Sen Mutsuji hung on to finish in front of Dave Early for third. Roger Shackleton capped off a gutsy ride to finish fifth, just in front of the fast finishing A and B grade field who were now only racing for one place each.
After a lot of pushing and shoving, not to mention a 'Jose special' over the last pimple, it was the man on a comeback mission, Anthony Spurgeon who kicked home in front of the ever present Tim Willing and Jose Rodriguez. This just left the honours for B grade to be decided. During the earlier part of the race it was elder statesmen, Kevin Nichols (St George) and Sean Vale (Manly) who had repeatedly set the pace, however come sprint time, Nic Rathborne (Easts) showed that his earlier two B grade wins were no fluke when he stormed home to make it three in a row and earn himself a well deserved start in A grade next week.
A new initiative by Easts this year has been the introduction of a skills programme for children who would like to learn how to ride and race a bike in a safe environment. There's been a good turn out so far and if you want to make Tuesday night family night, then bring the kids down by 5pm for some fun. No grading, so you don't have to worry about the Handicapper, yet.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rocky Fortuna
7 November A Grade 1 Robbie Cater (FRF Couriers) 2 Anthony Spurgeon (Caravello) 3 Tim Willing (Midland) B Grade 1 Nick Rathborne (Easts) 2 Sean Vale (Manly) 3 John Sunde (St George) C Grade 1 Ben Elliott (Randwick Botany) 2 Calvin Smith (Randwick Botany) 3 Radek Valentin (Waratah) 4 Neil Morris (Randwick Botany) 5 Fergus Bermingham (Waratah) 14 November A Grade 1 Anthony Spurgeon B Grade 1 Nick Rathborne (Easts) 2 Jono Cridland (Southern Cross) 3 Trent Iliffe (Easts & Shanghai) C Grade 1 Scott Simpson (Easts) 2 David Whyman (Clarence St) 3 Sen Mutsuji (Easts) 4 Dave Early (Easts) 5 Roger Shackelton (Manly)
Local results 2006