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Warragul Cycling Club

Shady Creek Series #3, July 24, 2004

Warragul Revolutions - Climate Change for Club

By Monique Hanley

Thankfully, conditions for stage three of the Shady Creek series on Saturday were more bearable than last weeks freeze, with the majority of the 21 riders opting for just knee warmers on the milder afternoon as they raced a windless Stuhrs Road circuit. A warmer Sunday morning also saw a large bunch head out for the weekend training ride as more people re-discovered their bicycles. The change in climate wasn't the only alteration this week with the Club holding its annual general meeting on Thursday night, welcoming in new President Justen O'Connor and Secretary Karin Jones to replace Steve Hall and Ian Walk.

It was a successful year for the Club in terms of an increase in membership, sound financial position and well-run hostings of regional cycling events such as the Baw Baw Classic. In his address to club members, outgoing President Steve Hall also mentioned the success of the summer Criterium series, trialled in January and which resulted in consistent turnouts throughout the series. Secretary Ian Walk noted the huge amount of volunteer input required to host weekly races as well as regional race events, which continue to raise the profile of Baw Baw Shire as a cycling destination.

New President, 33yr old O'Connor from Warragul, took up cycling four years ago when he moved into the region to lecture at Monash University. The former cricketer fell in love with the sport and is now a strong recruiter of new club members from his workplace. A key strategy for O'Connor in his upcoming term will be to build on the strong foundations established in 2003-4 by focussing on junior development as well as increasing the safety of racing participants. He is joined by multi-talented Phil Gallagher, taking up the positions of Vice President, Membership Officer and Race Director.

New Junior Development Officer for the club, Thomas Sandner, started off his year leading by example as he stormed home over one minute ahead of his rivals in the A grade scratch race on Saturday. The small field was at the mercy of Sandner throughout the race, causing Dave Salton to be an early casualty as Thomas turned the pressure on for each climb on the Nilma-Shady Creek hill. Geoff Thomson and Wayne Chester managed to recover from the sting on the first two climbs, but by the third attempt Sandner spoiled hopes of a bunch finish by surging past the KOM to ride clear of the bunch. For the remaining lap Chester and Thomson worked together to reduce the time gap, but Sandner drove hard through Stuhrs Road, continuing onto the final Darnum-Shady Creek stretch to take victory. Geoff Thomson finished second ahead of Wayne Chester.

The B grade field welcomed Chelsea junior rider Pete Johnstone to their ranks, who found the drive to Warragul less taxing than the nearest junior race at Shepparton. Also joining the field from afar was Bairnsdale's Dean Macintosh, keen to show-off his winter coat. The field were content to remain together for much of the three-lap race, despite an attack by Beales on the chunky pavement along Stuhrs Road during lap two. The attack went unnoticed by the rear of the bunch, leaving Johnstone to contain the break after some encouragement by Mike Brown. A bunch finish was assured and with his usual lead-out tactics, Tim Lee began proceedings with an early surge from the gully. The confusion threw out sprint lines as riders battled for better positioning. However, it was Chris Beales who was too strong for the field, taking the win in style and two weeks in a row, ahead of Steve Sandner and Luke Hanley. Tim Lee noted that considering the damp and muddy racing conditions, he was happy to have stayed upright the entire race.

A wise decision saw C and D grade fields combine for two laps of Stuhrs Road. The current strength of the D grade riders amalgamated well with the remaining C grade field, which included Phil Medhurst from Bairnsdale and Glenn Fisher back from injury. They completed their first lap at a steady tempo, continuing onto the second climb of Nilma-Shady Creek at a constant pace. A late surge by Damian Brown contributed to splitting the pack by the top of the hill, but the field was able to reform thanks to the good fortune of a tractor heading onto the course on the Nilma North back straight. The bunch took advantage of the large wind protection provided to recover from the climb and regroup. Turning onto Darnum-Shady Creek Road, Roger Bell took the opportunity to stretch the field out. His solo attack was countered soon after by Damien Brown, before Bell repeated his manoeuvre but to no avail. The remaining riders seemed set on having a bunch finish, with three lead out trains led by Trent Brown, Danny Dilger and Phil Medhurst. Dilger took the bunch by surprise by charging out early, followed by Trent Brown. On finding an opening, Monique Hanley pulled back Trent Brown but ran out of room to reel in the fast finishing Dilger, winning his second race in a row. Roger Bell finished off the podium with an excellent effort for third.

There will be a club meeting this Thursday, 29th July from 7:30pm at the velodrome in order to establish the upcoming race schedule and resolve other urgent items not covered during last week's annual general meeting. More information is available at the club website . A public meeting to identify demand for a recreational cycling group in Warragul will be held on Monday, 2nd August from 7.30pm at the Old Shire Hall. Please contact Roy Hammond on 56220919 for more information.

Next weeks racing will again be at Shady Creek, starting at 2pm.

Local results 2004