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Southern Veterans Cycling Club Twilight Race
Sandown Park Raceway, Victoria, January 31, 2008
Big day in Wangaratta
By Barry McNaught
Victoria’s traditional Australia Day Weekend Carnival was raced with good entries at Wangaratta. It is the only program that allows riders two chances to make a Wheel Race Final. Four riders went through from the first round of four heats and two from the second round of three heats.
The unlucky rider was last years Wheelrace Winner - Kyle Marwood (Bendigo). Marwood was fifth and third in his heats and second in consecutive years in the A Grade Scratch Race.
In the first round of four 2,000m heats three backmarkers qualified. Laine Hammond (Northcote) was the first woman through, fourth in Heat 1, to Matt Smith (Ballarat-Sebastapol). Josh Gundry (Bendigo), who finished second at the Latrobe wheel race in 2006, won Heat 2. He was chasing girls who were given every chance of qualifying from a limit of 245m.
Alan Dudderidge (Albury/Wodonga) took Heat 3 and 2005 winner Ryan Worn (Bendigo) got home ahead of backmarkers Sean Finning (Castlemaine) and Damian Kierl (Ballarat-Sebastopol) in the fourth and slowest heat. As with last year, the task of the two riders at the back looked hopeless, chasing a 50m gap.
However the second round of heats after the tea break set the stage for a very interesting final. Hamish Taylor (Northcote) and Eddie Wilson (Brunswick) gave the two backmarkers already qualified some hope. Ben Knight (Bendigo) and local bike shop owner Rob Sullivan (Wangaratta) added to second limit and two quality girls – Victorian State Keirin Champion Esther Pugh-Uren (Bendigo) and Peta Stewart (Albury-Wodonga) - had Laine Hammond on limit smiling. On a perfect summer evening, the best crowd for several years saw a great final. The three women - Hammond, Stewart and Pugh-Uren - rode strongly at the front and were not headed on the 492m track, until after the bell. The race favourite, Matt Smith, came down in a bad spill at the 300m mark with four other riders. All eventually walked away. There were 11 riders racing from marks behind Smith back to Tim Ralton (Bendigo) and several liked their chances as the fast moving bunch raced toward the last 200m.
The fall did not appear to affect the outcome of the wheel race, with Gundry going to the front 150m from home. However he tired badly, drifting to the centre of the track in the finishing straight. This paved the way for the man the backmarkers had chosen as their most likely chance for success, to charge through for what at the bell had looked a very unlikely win. Eddie Wilson started at 4/1 and rode 2.09.30, a time 5.73 secs quicker than the previous winner Marwood. Local Damian Semmler (Wangaratta), who finished third, protested he was impeded in the final sprint and the placings were reversed - dropping Gundry from second to third.
The 1000m Handicap was named in honour of Eddie Bush. Eddie passed away at Geelong in November and was a well known and respected Athletics and Cycling Commentator, who had called at Wangaratta and many other country venues. He had retired about 13 years ago. With a typically well timed finish, Jessica Berry was very happy to be the first winner of Eddie’s race.
Castlemaine rider Sean Finning, winner of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games Points Score Race, took the 10 kilometre Sid Patterson Memorial Scratch Race. He was joined in a break over the last five laps by Bendigo riders Kyle Marwood and Sean Pontelandolfo who finished second and third.
A Grade – 35 Riders 1 Justin Davis 2 Paul Mason 3 Andrew Nicholls 4 Tom Crebbin B Grade – 40 Riders 1 Andrew Shannon 2 Doug Reynolds 3 Tony McGarrigle 4 George Ward C Grade – 39 Riders 1 David Elliott 2 Andrew Beazley 3 Warren Erfurth 4 Mark Watkins D Grade – 28 Riders 1 Adrian Griffin 2 Phil Boelen 3 Greg Lawler 4 Lou Wilson Women 1 Jane Hill E Grade – 39 Riders 1 Bruce Peacock 2 Michael Smith 3 John De Leijer 4 James O’Brien F Grade – 14 Riders 1 Don May 2 Clive Wright 3 Michael Strom G Grade – 5 Riders 1 Rosie Lumbo 2 Dianne Roy 3 Jim Taylor