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Mildura-Coomealla CC Tour of the Riverland
May 24-25, 2003
By Peter Winton
South Australia's richest and biggest Club cycling event is the Berri Open, a 2 day Tour conducted in the riverland of South Australia and travelling through 3 towns. The Tour starts with a 90km handicap on the Saturday, commencing in front of the Berri Hotel Resort and heads across the Murray River to Loxton, swings around and returns to Berri and onto Renmark. From here it meanders across the Murray River again into Paringa and returns to Renmark and finally to the finish line some 3 kms outside of Berri at the Berri Estates Winery.
This 127 riders saw fit to pay up their hard earned dollars and make the trip. An overcast and cool day prevailed but thankfully the rain had come and gone. Mildura was well represented with 17 riders on the day including one 13 year old in the junior handicap, Samuel Priest, who unfortunately dropped his chain crossing the Loxton railway line towards the race end and blew his chances.
In the end Peter Roe from Norwood CC took the honours (18 min. bunch) from Trevor Skinner (last years winner and also 18min. bunch). Mildura's contingent did well with Ian Beruldsen tagging the winners wheel but getting swamped on the line to finish 6th. Michael Shipsides waited patiently for a break in traffic and was rewarded with an 8th place whilst Dion Basse-Anstee was just nutted out of 10th but was duly recognised with some cash for the 1st unplaced junior.
Sprint primes were won by Dave Priest and Arthur Anderson and Stephanie Frawley took home some spending cash as first unplaced.
Every other Mildura member acquitted themselves well in their bunches. A special mention to Harry Robbins who overcame his 2002 "lactic collapse" and from a very limited preparation of 5 weeks finished well.
On Sunday the Norwood Cycling club's program consists of a 37km consolation handicap for the C, D & E graded riders as well as A & B graded criteriums. Good prize money is again on offer.
The handicaps were crunched overnight after counting for withdrawing riders etc and the field now from zero to 6 minutes (formerly 10 minutes).
3 of the 5 bunches were all together at the 30km mark despite the best efforts of Anderson and Winton to keep their bunch away from their chasers. Several little attacks were launched but all came to no impact on the group at large.
In the bedlam of the bunch sprint it seemed as though it would be a repeat of the previous day with a swarming mass of riders attempting to find a pathway to the front but with few succeeding. Patience is a virtue, so they say, but it's difficult not to become frustrated and disappointed when "runs" don't come.
But hey, daylight did appear 100 metres out and all of a sudden the blocking wall of riders wasn't there and a small gap appeared. Shipsides went to the right and Winton to the left both Mildura riders chasing up McNally who was in the right spot, about 4th wheel. Ian Brade was struggling as Winton "zipped" past him, whilst Shipsides had a "Giant" run on the far right.
The winner, however, was too good young and strong, prevailing by over two lengths to second place. Marcus Bird, a 17 year old from the Norwood Club had whipped his charges in the McNally group to round us all up at the 30km mark and then go on to power home in the finish. Still, Mildura did well again. 5-8th and 10th place being McNally, Winton, Shipsides, Lokan and Brade. Two sprint primes were taken out as well, Basse-Anstee and Winton from respective bunches.
Mildura riders made their presence felt if acknowledgements from other members of the same bunches are anything to go by. A significant Open win is not far away.
This week's local Club event is a graded handicap at Barndeet road, Red Cliffs, travelling to Colignan and back, a distance of 66kms. Race start at 1:30pm sharp.
90 km handicap 1 Peter Roe (Norwood CC) 2 Trevor Skinner 37km consolation handicap 1 Marcus Bird (Norwood CC)