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Mildura-Coomealla CC Handicap
August 17, 2002
Wightwick Works To Win
By Peter Winton
Adam Wightwick, remember him? The young guy who came to us from the Ballarat/Sebastapol Club a couple of years ago, the same guy who rode in the Tour of Sunraysia a couple of years ago and finished midfield? HeÕs back!
19 riders took to the back lanes of South Merbein in sunny Sunraysia for an 8 lap handicap hitout. A good roll up with the usual absentee rate of 4 or 5. With Nathan Welsh a withdrawal from nominations due to work commitments, Rob McNally remaining in Mildura for the weekend and the unexpected turn up of Bob Knudsen, a slight alteration to the line-ups was arranged, Knudsen into chopping block and McNally in the usual scratch possie with his contemporaries.
Limit was rearranged with Mulhearn moving up one group. At 10 minutes were Priest, Joy and Lloyd, the 7 minute group Lokan, Gregory, Robbins, Liddle, Mulhearn and Winton.
At 5:30 the chopping block mix had Anderson, Knudsen, Wightwick and Dwyer, chasing them were Tankard, Baudry, McNally, Shipsides and Beruldsen. Good things do come to those who wait (meaning the rest of us B graders were glad to see Ian B off scratch).
The 7 minute group wrapped up limit by the 15km mark and Priest, Joy and Lloyd all managing to get on. The group continued with their 37km average and were totally surprised to see chopping block close the gap so rapidly during the 4th lap. At the 27km point the combined 3 groups needed to maintain their effort. Mulhearn had been relishing his role in the middle bunch with strong and even turns but at lap 5 an unnerving, cracking sound emanated from somewhere within his frame which caused him to back off and loose touch.
The large bunch rolled on. Needing to stay away from "the riders from Hell", the pace did not ease. Wightwick made it difficult for all by staying left instead of "up the road" into the head-cross wind at the end of lap 6. His ears must have been burning with all the yells of "encouragement" he received. No sign yet of scratch, good thing!
The leading riders of Anderson, Wightwick, Robbins, Gregory and Winton kept the pace on, Lokan and Liddle all doing their bit for the cause. Knudsen withdrew at the bell lap. Still no sign of the scratchies.
Wightwick and Liddle kept the bunch honest down the tailwind Honor Avenue side and then into the side wind Yelta Road section Anderson kept the pace high. Before you know it all the hard riding eases and itÕs time to ease those tired and cramping calves, catch your breath a bit, lower the pounding heart rate and think about where you should be (at home in front of the telly!). The bunch eased along up the Meridian road rise, Gregory sneaking up the front, them Lokan chiming in, stay cool, itÕs still too far to go and finishing into a headwind will be difficult for any breakaway to sustain.
Suddenly, Harvey Dwyer made a move about 300m from the 5th street turn, all up about a kilometre to go. DonÕt get on him, itÕs still too far and heÕll tire. Lokan sacrificed himself by raising the tempo, not letting "DY" get away, bringing him back a little. Brendan Liddle sneaks up on Wightwicks wheel, Anderson stays back. What to do? Watch Wightwick and keep close to Lokan. Jack gives the group one last burst and Wightwick kicks it up a bit, get past Liddle and Anderson and grab his wheel, the bunch still hasnÕt reached "DY". Wightwick goes for it, itÕs on! JackÕs gone, and Winton and Robbins get a sniff of a chance to finish well. In a close finish Wightwick held off Winton a fraction with Robbins a further length in 3rd.
Next weekÕs event is a graded scratch at that wonderful circuit commencing at Orange World, a 54km shoot-out.
1 A Wightwick 1.16.12 2 P Winton 3 H Robbins 1.16.13 4 H Dwyer 5 B Liddle 6 K Gregory 7 J Lokan 8 K Joy 9 A Anderson 10 K Tankard 1.11.00 (fastest) 11 R McNally 12 C Baudry 13 M Shipsides 14 A Lloyd 15 D Priest 16 P Mills 17 I Beruldsen 18 P Mulhearn