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Country Victoria Championships

July 3, 2004

Country Road Champions for Warragul

Local riders too good on home territory for country Victorian field

Warragul CC write-up by Monique Hanley

Chris Hunt (Warragul)
Photo ©: Monique Hanley
John Mackenzie (Warragul)
Photo ©: Monique Hanley
Local reps
Photo ©: Monique Hanley

Warragul riders John Mackenzie and Chris Hunt proved to be too strong on their home turf by winning the Country Road Championship Open and Masters 4 titles respectively on Saturday. In fields featuring riders from all over Victoria, both cyclists formed successful mid-race breakaways, yet ensured they had enough strength to account for their fellow breakaway accomplices in sprint finishes in front of a home crowd at the Darnum-Shady Creek circuit. James Henry rode hard in a tough and talented field to just miss out on a podium place in the junior U17 category, while Chris Beales rounded off a successful weekend for Warragul by claiming silver in the Masters 3 category behind Latrobe Valley rider Peter Tsebelis.

In clear and cool conditions, 95 cyclists descended upon the Darnum hall to compete multiple laps of the Stuhrs Road circuit, with each race finishing out at Shady Creek. Riders not only faced a tough north-westerly wind and gum tree debris on route, but race organisers were forced to arrange the removal of a local cow from the course before racing commenced.

The open men's field included a class line-up of riders hailing from as far as Port Fairy and Wodonga. In such competition the Country Victorian Road Championship title was rated by John Mackenzie as one of his best-ever wins. It follows a stellar 2004 road season start including Gippsland Road Champion and strong showing in the recent 3 Days of Gippsland Tour. Despite the obvious home-ground advantage, a busy week of work pre-occupied his preparation and warm-up, keeping his expectations conservative. An easy start to the 95km race was not granted with attacks appearing early, largely at the hands of Geelong West rider Ryan Moody. Mackenzie was also involved in the early action, although no serious break was established from anyone in the peloton until Mackenzie launched an unlikely attack on the short rise along Stuhrs Road during lap two. Taking Ballarat/Sebastopol's Damian Turner with him, the duo worked together to establish a sustainable time opening on the remaining field. With three laps remaining, including a further three ascents of the 1.6km Nilma-Shady Creek climb, both Turner and Mackenzie continued the offensive to establish a 55second buffer. The toll, however, was heavy for Turner who struggled up both the fourth and final climbs up the hill. With encouragement from Mackenzie, they remained together and clear of the chase group, paving the way for a final sprinting duel. Mackenzie's strength was too much for Turner, finishing strongly on the uphill finish at Shady Creek. Ryan Moody was awarded third place in front of the chasing group.

Reigning Australian Masters Champion for the individual pursuit and Warragul rider Chris Hunt rode in the Masters 4 category race of 60km, which included 3 laps of the Stuhrs Road circuit. With most attacks at the hands of Latrobe Valley riders Allen and Jim Timmer-Arrends, success finally struck for Jim at the start of lap 2, putting 300m on the remaining field as they approached the Nilma-Shady Creek climb. Chris Hunt applied the pressure to the field up the hill, emerging clear of the following bunch by the top. With four chasers joining him, the five began working to reel Jim in who remained at large. But concern over the lack of intensity prompted an inpatient Hunt to attack the chase bunch and bridge across to Jim. Together the two were able to work towards holding off the pursuivants, and they remained clear for the final 1.5laps. As the favoured sprinter, Hunt overcame a tiring Timmer-Arrends to claim the title. Within the combined Masters field, Chris Beales finished high in the chase bunch standings to claim silver for his age category.

The junior U17 field suffered early from the swift pace up the Nilma-Shady Creek climb, significantly shelling pack numbers. The remaining six riders stayed together until round two of the climb, where a further two riders suffered from the tempo and lost touch. The foursome, containing local James Henry, stayed together for the final stretch while working hard into the head wind along Darnum-Shady Creek road. But for James, the toll from the early tempo was too great for the sprint finish and with nothing left in reserve he crossed the finish just a bike length from the podium.

Sister event to the Country Road Championships, the Metropolitan Road Championships was also held at Darnum on Sunday, attracting a further 80 riders to the region. In a race filled with a frenzy of attacks, Anthony Comino from St Kilda overcame the odds to claim the win in the open men, while Briana James, also from St Kilda, took gold in the women.

Thanks to the local volunteers who donated their time across the busy weekend, ensuring successful events for both days.

Next week sees a return (finally!) to local club racing, with Warragul commencing its winter Shady Creek series. This is a great opportunity to bring the bike out for some winter racing in a friendly atmosphere. Racing commences at 2pm from Shady Creek Primary School, with further information available from the club website: The club is also on the lookout for interested persons to commissaire our local races - the cycling equivalent of an umpire or referee. Please contact club secretary Ian Walk or refer to our website for more information.

Local results 2004