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All The Way Ray

All The Way Ray

Ray Hodgson knocked it out of the park, leading the race from gun to flag, he solo-ed the fast and furious four lap Weatherboard handicap to roll over the line several hundred metres clear.

Spring finally arrived in Learmonth, magpies were swooping, the sun was out and so were the Parkers (Rob and Sue). A total of 17 riders took up the challenge, with numbers down a little due to some sore legs from the Camperdown- Warrnambool.

Ray was first away off 25 minutes and rode a very strong and consistent race. He was being hunted by the pairing of Ron Larkin and Graeme Parker off 15 min. With Graeme riding well the twosome took 5 min out of Ray on the first lap and gained time on the bunch behind. However a second lap puncture side-lined Graeme leaving Ron to continue the chase, but the steam had gone out of it, Ron persisted but was sure to get caught. To his credit when he was caught, Ron never gave it away and finished 5th .

Gary Captain Blood,  Never-Say-Die Greg Curnow and Fair-weather Rob Parker made steady headway in the 11 min bunch. Rob obviously hasn’t been hibernating over winter and put in PB results in his comeback race. But looking behind they could see a storm coming and they braced themselves for impact, hoping they would have enough to hang on.

Mid race the riders of the storm arrived with full force in the form of Kenny Heres in his first race appearance for a while, accompanied by the brothers Lee and a somewhat flat Rock (Mal) off 9min. They formed the bunch of the race, catching all in front of them bar one, ultimately running out of road to secure a win. General Ken was in command and was keen to keep his troops together and at one point easing up to allow Kevin Lee to get back on. Kevin then found his trademark second wind and went on to pick up 2nd. Brian Lee shared much of the heavy lifting with Ken and was rewarded with a creditable 3rd. For all his efforts Ken picked up 4th but it was great to see him back and riding well.

On a fine day and over a short course the back of the race was always going to struggle to feature in the finish. The 3.5min bunch of Bob Braszell, Dean Wells and Richard Taylor had their work in front of them. With Bob and Dean knocking out a solid tempo and Richard showing signs of a return to form they succeeded in holding Scratch off, not bad for three being chased by four.

The effort Scratch put into the chase was written all over Shane Cody’s ashen face. Tony Mirabella, Phil Cartledge, Peter Kiel and Shane had chased all day for all they were worth, for little reward. With 10 minutes still to chase on the last lap it became a race for fastest time. With Terrific Tony in the bunch, leaving the result to be decided by a final sprint was not what the other three were thinking and the last lap was red hot. And the result? Terrific Tony had plenty and polished off the sprint but Peter Kiel made him earn it, pushing him all the way.

 

Results

1st                        Ray Hodgson (25 min)

2nd                        Kevin Lee (9 min)

3rd                        Brian Lee (9 min)

4th                        Ken Heres (9 min)

5th                        Ron Larkin (15 min)

Fastest Time            Tony Mirabella (Scratch)

What a Win for Wells

What a Win for Wells

In an impressive display of strength, Dean Wells rode through the field to secure a commanding win. With a pair of riders 2 minutes behind and a group of five 4 minutes up the road, Dean, with only Peter “Fifi” Livitsanis for company, made the courageous decision to chase rather than wait, believing his best chance of victory lay up the road, not behind him.

A small field of 14 assembled in windy conditions to contest the Windmill circuit handicap. First  away was Tony Herbert off 20 minutes, a lone rider in the wind he was soon joined by Graeme Parker  (17 min) fresh from his top 10 finish at Benalla, and Greg Curnow and Gary Blood (14 min). This combination fared better, only losing Gary and holding the race lead until the rise up to Blowhard on the last lap.

The largest group of the day was the 9 minute mob of 5 riders consisting of Mal Rock, John Creek, Brenton Keats, Bob Morley and Kevin Lee – a group of solid riders with the potential to sort out the podium places amongst themselves. John is coming into some good form and the mercurial Keats was tenacious in his return from an extended spell, however they were losing time and quickly.  After the race Bob was heard to lament that they would have won it if they had ridden faster – well that is the general principle n’est par?

The 5 min pairing of Wells and Livitsanis got off to a fast start and once Dean had pumped up those massive thighs of his the pace quickened further. After the first lap they had cut the chase to the Morley bunch in half, and turning into Donovan’s road for the second time Dean could read the numbers of the bunch in front. He surprised everyone by attacking on the inside, with Peter tucked up behind him. This caused the Morley bunch to scramble to jump on. Up past the Quarry on the last lap, the front of the race came into view, Parker, Herbert and Curnow providing another target for the rapacious Wells. Up the rise Wells again surged past on the inside, those that could went politely around the outside to join him, but Bob and Kevin got lost in the mix.

At Coghills Creek it was down to just 5 riders Wells, Livitsanis, Rock, Keats and Creek, victory seemed a possibility – Wells even exclaiming “We’ve got it in the bag”. However, behind them was Darren Terry and Paul Humphries (3min), who had ridden particularly well to defend their slender 3 min advantage on Scratch, they could see the leaders and were chasing hard. The Scratch pairing of Shane Cody and Tony Mirabella were less than 2 minutes behind the race lead now and knew they still had a chance.  No time for complacency, the race leaders continued to share the work around.

Up the rise on Donovan’s Road for the last time and into a cross wind, Wells put the race into the gutter and found yet a bigger crank-bending gear to mash. Creekie was biting hard on the handlebar to hold Wells’ wheel and Livitsanis was turning himself inside out to make this final selection. The cross wind and the relentless brutality being dished up out front took Keats first , then Rock. At the top of the rise Creekie and Livitsanis had survived, but Wells wasn’t finished yet, into the headwind he ground out a small gap. Instead of a bigger gear, Sunbeam Mixmaster Creekie opted for a smaller one – the biggest man in the field spinning the smallest gear – he whizzed his way back on. However this effort put him well into the red and the gap opened again, this time Wells was free to fly, crossing the line 40m in front of Livitsanis with Creek hanging on for third, smoke pouring from his cassette.

Into Donovan’s Road for the last time, and having averaged over 38km/hr for the race, the Scratch-men had rounded up Terry and Humphries. Shane Cody buried himself in a big lead out to try to grab the race which was tantalisingly close. The very appreciative Tony Mirabella flashing home for fourth and fastest, just seconds behind Creek. Fifth went to Paul Humphries who rode very well to outlast Darren Terry and get over Shane.

 Results

1st                                    Dean Wells (5 min)

2nd                                    Peter Livitsanis (5 min)

3rd                                    John Creek (9 min)

4th                                    Tony Mirabella (Scratch)

5th                                    Paul Humphries (3 min)

Fastest Time                  Tony Mirabella (Scratch)

Ritchie Rich Grabs the Cash

Ritchie Rich Grabs the Cash

Race Report 19 September 2012 

Hetherington Circuit Handicap

Matt Ritchie has been improving all season, and despite sacking his coach (Bob) earlier in the week, showed a clean pair of heels on Sunday to win from a difficult mark – a group of two stuck between a much larger group behind and another pair in front. Assisted by the other big improver for 2012, Gary Blood, Matt made the courageous decision to chase the pair in front rather than wait – a race winning decision.

The race became that much more difficult for the back markers when Matt and Gary rounded up Graeme Parker and Ron Larkin. Graeme, resplendent on his new Fuji, then orchestrated this quartet to perfection. The time gap to the chasers was tumbling but not quite quick enough. The awesome foursome had the race lead early, with no sign of the chasing bunches. Into the final lap they negotiated the hilly part of the circuit as a group, but the pace went up around the piggery corner and Gary exploded. Rounding the final turn past the clubrooms Matt jumped, usually this is pure folly from this far out, but Matt proved he has been building a bigger engine, and powered to the post. Graeme and Ron left to squabble over second, Ronnie edging a fast finishing Graeme on the line.

Bob Morley, John Creek, Mal Rock, Terry Constable and Brian and Kevin Lee were also not waiting for the bunch behind and committed to the 6.5min chase to Matt and Gary. They rocketed out of the start gate and despite being pursued with vigour they only gave up seconds on the first lap. They rode with precision and purpose, the average speed remaining solid every lap, and not dropping a rider until late in the race when Scratch eventually caught them. Still in the mix for the minor placings, Bob sprinted well to be the first rider home from this bunch and finished a creditable 6th.

Off 4.5 minutes was what looked a winning bunch on paper (well the whiteboard anyway). Dave Peters, Pip Read, Dean Wells, Craig Lightfoot and Peter Livitsanis have all made life miserable for many riders before. However, it was not to be today. Even from the start they couldn’t get the combination working and one by one their numbers were depleted.

Second scratch were making big inroads in the 2 minute gap to the 4.5 minute bunch with Darren Terry and Rob Phillips both riding strongly, but Richard Taylor struggled to hold the pace. Darren and Rob caught up with Dave Peters who had been dropped from the bunch in front and dragged him back up to Peter L and Dean Wells. This odd assortment worked OK until scratch caught them on the final lap at the start of Weatherboard Road. Tony Mirabella and his fellow Scratch riders, Peter Kiel and Guy Falla, went on the attack, and went clear on the first hill. Rob Phillips was incensed and tore his bike apart to successfully get back on the back of Scratch, taking Darren and Peter L with him, the rest all perished on the hill. The next rise to the Avenue proved a challenge too soon for Rob and the final hill in the Avenue took care of Peter and Darren, leaving Tony and friends unencumbered by passengers and they powered away in search of race glory.

They caught Bob’s band of merry men just after the piggery. There was no settling down for the final sprint though, Guy attacked several times and popped several riders, but probably burning his chances in the process. Tony jumped from the bend and spread-eagled the field, no one could go with him. Around a minute behind the race winner, Tony easily took 4th and Fastest, even had time to smile for Bill’s camera. Kiely continued his good form from last weeks Open top ten finish, riding strongly he was rewarded with 5th.

 

Results

1st                        Matt Ritchie (14 minutes)

2nd                        Ron Larkin (16 minutes)

3rd                        Graeme Parker (16 minutes)

4th                        Tony Mirabella (Scratch)

5th                        Peter Kiel (Scratch)

Fastest Time            Tony Mirabella (Scratch)

Eureka open run and won

Eureka open run and won

Clarke First and Fastest

Congratulations to Eastern Vets Roy Clarke, who won this year’s Eureka Open handicap in a thrilling bunch sprint, taking fastest time in the process.

In good weather conditions, over 80 riders contested the 62km event held on the Mt Misery circuit at Learmonth. With limit at 27 minutes, the challenge was set for the Scratch riders who haven’t contested a finish in any of this year’s Opens to date. The Scratch bunch had some in-form riders, the likes of Steve Young, Neville Laffy and Tony Mirabella combined to form a potent force that quickly made in-roads on the time gaps to the bunches in front. With Roy continually driving the bunch hard they rounded up the 2 minute bunch and conscripted Andrew Joiner and Peter Keil into service, these two riders acquitting themselves very well.

One bunch after another Scratch rattled through the field and by mid race had captured and dispatched the middle markers and were in hot pursuit of the front markers. The front markers were not giving up their advantage easily and the Scratch bunch didn’t grab the front of the race until the last km or so. Rodney Cheyne rode a great race off 18:30min, riding through and clear of the bunches in front he looked the winner until the dying stages on Weatherboard Road when Scratch flew past, Rodney hanging on to pick up a well earned 10th.

The race came down to the final sprint, no lead outs here, the top four place getters lining up across the road in a test of speed and strength. Roy Clarke had more than enough to win by a length from Steve Young and Neville Laffy with the fast finishing Tony Mirabella flashing home for fourth.

Thanks to the VVCC for staging the event, and a special thanks to those Eureka Vets and friends of Eureka Vets who volunteered their time to ensure this year’s Open was a resounding success.

Results

1st                        Roy Clarke (Scratch) – Eastern

2nd                        Steve Young (Scratch) – Geelong

3rd                        Neville Laffy (Scratch) – Goulbourn Valley

4th                        Tony Mirabella  (Scratch) – Eureka

5th                        Brian McNamarra (Scratch) – Warrnambool

6th                        Andrew Joiner (2 min) – Central Victoria

7th                        Mathew Grealy (4 min) – Hume

8th                        Peter Keil (2 min) – Eureka

9th                        David Tozer (Scratch) – Warnambool

10th                      Rodney Cheyne (18:30 min) – Gippsland

Fastest:                 Roy Clarke (1:24:18, 41.42km/hr)

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