Graded scratch races were on the agenda, on the flat circuit around Modella in an attempt to give the sprinters something to aim for. Gale force winds didn’t help the script go according to plan however, with a tough day in store for all brave enough to pin a number on.
All grades were reduced to one 50km loop, with the wind making things difficult enough: the rain that was on the horizon would have made things all together too dangerous.
The two long cross wind sections were enough to sort things out in any case, with worthy winners all round. A break of three held the chasers at bay in A Grade, with defending champion Brent Nelson (Croydon Cycleworks) joined by Trevor Spencer (Budget Forklifts) and Calvin Watson (Jayco AIS) who has recently returned from a long European campaign.
Nelson showed his speed with a clear win over Watson in the sprint, while Callan Douglas (Mainline Cycles) led the rapidly shrinking chase buncg home ahead of Nick Youngs (Zoom Video Racing) and Trevor Spencer. Thanks to Cameron Parlevliet for the on-bike footage.
Long stints at putting the B Grade bunch in the gutter by Matt Bennett (Cycling-Inform) on the leg between Tynong and Bayles saw the bunch begin to thin dramatically, but it was a slip of gears from the mechanically jinxed Garth Kotnik that led to the final selection being made soon after the final turn at Bayles.
The disruption avoiding Kotnik left just five in contention for the lighting fast tail wind run home. Tom Debenham led out the sprint but couldn’t hold off Paul Aulakh for the win. Lucas Sproson, Cam Rotter (Burnley Finance) and Darren Cathie rounded out the podium.
Leongatha local Peter Hollins made in two in a row with a good win in C Grade, as he opened a handy lead in the dash home. Ed Smith (Kelly Cycle Coaching) powered home in second place, with Vaughan Webber and Rob Monteath completing the podium.
What do you think the Alps are? They are nothing more than high mountains. No height is insurmountable to men of determination.
One could assume at first glance, especially given this is a cycling club’s website, that this is cyclist or director sportif’s quote, but no, it is in fact an excerpt from Hannibal’s address to his men upon seeing the mountains they were to cross to get to Italy. He was a mere 25 years of age.
Bicycle racing at its worst can be a predictable insipid affair, uninteresting to the participants and spectators alike and demeaning to both the sport and those who have given their time to make it happen. At its best it can be a monumental struggle fought out on a bitumen battlefield, encompassing grand themes that will exist as long as humans populate the earth. The D-grade race today fell in the latter category. This was a race that was a credit to all involved, it was a race that deserved to be seen by more than the 8 or so participants and the guy in the follow car.
The central theme of this race was youth vs maturity, whether it is better to have the energy, vitality and enthusiasm of the young, or the wisdom, sangfroid and patience that come with age; in only 48kms this theme was explored and resolved again until it next arises.
The first leg to Longwarry saw the 8 riders head off together accompanied by a bunch marshall. A roaring westerly crosswind didn’t affect the group’s cohesion until about 3kms from the first turn, Jordyn Hassett (Richmond Cyclery) was slowly off loaded. Given the group’s size and the length of the race remaining, this encapsulated brutality in its purest sense. From the opening of the first gap to the eventual capitulation, there was a painful slow inevitability to it that was reminiscent of the fall of communism in the USSR following glasnost and perestroika.
Immediately after the Longwarry turn, into the headwind, the touch paper was lit. Liam Pino & Thomas Stevenson, jumped away, the 2 youngest riders in the bunch. They didn’t gain much of a gap, but they persisted. The other 5 returned to them, but as a young General Custer did at Gettysburg, long before Little Big Horn, they became known. Up the rise into Garfield and then Tynong they made sure the pace stayed on, and Melissa Nicholls was just barely unhitched along there.
The halfway mark turn just after Tynong was clearly going to be into the crosswind again. Like Custer with the huge Sioux camp spread out before him, Pino and Stevenson saw the potential for glory, and spurred on by equal parts bravery and optimism, they took off as soon as they felt the wind at their side. Away they went, and this time the gap grew. It took a couple of kilometers before any organized chase began. All 4 remaining riders were involved, all working, trying to bring the 2 escapees to heel. But, the gap continued to grow at first. The road switched back into a cross headwind just past Cora Lynn, and here Amber Saunders (Burnley Finance) cracked, followed closely by Kevin Beverley and Will Height. These 3 had ridden selflessly, way into the red zone. The innocent honesty in that act, possibly seen as foolhardy inexperience by some, was an entirely unmarked revelation in the cynical world we live.
Now there remained the 2 youngest in front, being chased by the older Tim Lier and Josh Goodall. Numerically, 4 against 2 would usually win, but the 2 older seemed to gain momentum from their solitude, whilst the lads up front began to fade. It was youth vs experience, and it wasn’t being acted to an audience in the Globe, it was staged on bicycles in country Victoria. Halfway to the final turn, what seemed highly unlikely only 10mins before, happened, the Pino and Stevenson were caught. The grinding resilience of the older 2 had curtailed the zeal of the antagonists. If that was surprising, amazing was the catch of those 4 by the other Saunders, Height and Beverley. Maradona’s Hand of God allowed Argentina to progress without penalties, and it would seem a similar act had allowed the other 3 to rejoin.
Out of the last turn it was a tailwind that drove the riders home. The speed of the bunch was well into the 40s, at times 50s, and thus predictably, the 3 who had gone out the back before, did so again. That left the deserving 4 to fight it out. Would the young lads be Hannibal getting his troops and elephants across the Alps, or Custer, taking on more than he could possibly deal with. In the end, it was Little Big Horn. Stevenson was unable to maintain the pace with about 2km to go, leaving his young breakaway companion to the lions. They tore away from him with 150m to go, and he could offer little resistance. Youth had lost, but it’s only a battle, the war rages on all around us.
Oh what a slaughter, how many homes were made desolate by the sad disaster, every one of them were scalped and otherwise mutilated but the general he lay with a smile on his face.
- Private Thomas Coleman, B Company, 7th Cavalry, U.S. Army. (June, 1876)
Thanks to D Grade follow car driver Cam Winton for the most entertaining race report this website has ever featured!
Goodall was too good in the sprint, although Pino’s effort on junior gears in the tail wind was very impressive and gave him a well deserved second place. Stevenson was best of the rest in fourth place, while Amber Saunders and Mel Nicholls led the women’s contingent home.
Thanks to the volunteers who made the race possible. Graham Prosser has course construction down to a fine art, and was assisted today by Warren Howe. Ann Johstone and Doug Moody took care of registration and results, while out on the course were marshals Kym Marshall, Howe, Troy Thompson and Taj Chopra. Lead and follow cars were driven by Ross Thompson, David Watson, Brendan Rowbotham, Phil Randall, Cam Winton, Louise Bascombe and Mick Cummings. Riding escorts were Pierre Pino, Trent Height, Jay Heather, Ian Stevenson and David McNamara.
CCCC returns to Modella for the final road race of 2012 on September 22 for the CCCC club championships. All are welcome, hope to see you there!
|Saturday, September 8|