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Warragul Cycling Club

February 14, 2004

Hot cyclists take on the Crit

By Justen O'Connor

The Leongatha Carnival and 36 degree temperatures couldn't keep the Warragul cyclists away from their Saturday racing as sixty two wheels rolled their way to Burke St for the start of the crit race.

The sight of Joel Pearson returning to stretch the legs in A-Grade was not enough to scare young Steve Sandner from the group, but a couple of others were happy ride down one weight division in B-Grade.

Matty Malacarne was beginning to see the benefits from some extra kilometres and was planning for some aggressive riding. Heading the points table, Shane Stiles was out to grab some more but John McKenzie and Joel (fresh from a lazy 150km ride that morning) would not let them dominate.

After a slow start the group were clocking laps of around four and a half minutes with a series of surges followed by deep breathing in the heat. On lap seven Keith Tomholt uncharacteristically found the going too tough up the sharp hill and cut some laps off the back of the bunch until retiring.

Steve Sandner was doing a great job to stay with the more developed legs and even found his way to the front for the odd turn. Matty put in some breakaway attempts but the driving force of John McKenzie at the front of the bunch consistently reeled him back.

In the penultimate lap, Shane was able to hitch a ride across a gap and then attack as the group crossed for the bell. The bell must have scared him though as doubts about his ability to sustain the 14 second break for the final lap crept in and he sat up.

After fifty six minutes in the heat, the bunch wound up for the sprint and predictably Joel was firing. Shane managed to find his sprint legs and almost took Joel on the line in what was a tight finish. In a time of 56:28 Steve Sandner crossed for a deserved third place with some bolstered confidence to ride with the big boys while John and Matt rounded out the race.

With no one apparently in the mood for racing, the B-Grade bunch meandered around the circuit taking in the views. The turn taking was disjointed and the lap times were around five to five and a half minutes. Peter Bailey was putting in some work at the front while Thomas Sandner produced some attacks up the hill or into the wind on the back straight. These attacks were usually followed by a slow crawl for several minutes.

Peter Finlayson, who wasn't planning on riding, lifted the pace on occasions while Tim Lee, Justen O'Connor and Wayne Chester sporadically went to the front for a look. Steve Twining was keen to finish a race for a change and with Geoff Thomson were content chasing down attacks.

After one final attack from Thomas on the second last lap failed, the bell rang and the cat and mouse games began. With no one wanting to push into the wind the bunch stopped to a crawl on the back straight, Justen, feeling guilty from having done no work, decided to up the pace and lead the bunch out for a sprint.

As the line approached Wayne Chester and Tim Lee felt they were in the box seat but completely missed the inside sprint from Peter Finlayson. By the time they reacted Peter was gone and he crossed comfortably to make it four out of four for the crits in B-Grade. In a time of 52:51 for 10 laps Wayne led Tim over the line behind Peter. Peter B., Steve Twining, Thommo, Thomas and Justen finished it off.

The biggest bunch that was C-Grade started off lapping around the five minute mark but spread this out towards six minutes half way through. New rider Bob Bright from Tasmania settled into the bunch as did Mike Brown fresh from several months in the bike racing wilderness.

As the cyclists hit the windy back straight big Dean Logan became the choice of wheel to sit on and it was a scrap to tag his wheel. Steve Hall, was cruising around with slightly bigger biceps (a result of carrying around his trophy from last week), and Rob Monk was feeling fresh after his early morning training sessions.

Fitting in with B-Grade's 'take it easy' theme of the day, the blistering heat did not produce a blistering pace. No one took turns and everyone was quite happy to roll around. The bell stimulated some activity and everyone was feeling like a sprint. Rob felt like he was in the box seat on the inside but a D-Grade rider closed him out. This left Simon Baxter to take the initiative and power down the outside. Simon the student was determined to shake off Mike the lecturer but the older legs prevailed in the finish. Glenn Fisher finished third followed by Bob, Rob, Monique, Steve and the rest.

D-Grade was circulating at around six minutes per lap initially before Dave Axford, Bruce Mason and Allen Hauxwell increased the tempo. Loretta was riding strongly on the flat but lost contact on the hill as did Glenda a short time later.

Pushing hard the trio managed to get away on the second last lap as Brendan succumbed to the heat. It would only take five more minutes for the group to complete the final lap where Dave out sprinted Bruce and Alan crossed for third in a time of 49:27. Brendan crossed 3 minutes later. Glenda and Loretta completed a strong ride in the difficult conditions.

Next weeks race is another crit to be held at Bourke St.

Local results 2004