February 11, 2018 – Mount Beckworth, 54 km handicap

First handicap race of the season – 11 February 2018

Mount Beckworth circuit – 54 km

EVCC 2018 Bring a friend summer - poster

Bring a friend, mate or date ride…

Summer heat, boy and girl meet

But ah, oh, those summer nights

Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Tell me more, tell me more
How much dough did he spend?
Tell me more, tell me more
Could she get me a friend?

Another huge race day at EUREKA Cycling as riders tackled the testing Mount Beckworth circuit.  Forty four riders assembled for the first handicap race of 2018, with eleven of those riders “trial” racing with the club.  Cool overcast conditions with a strong south breeze set the scene for a tough day at the office.
The gusty winds called for lots of concentration as the riders tried to stay with their bunch and help shelter each other from the crosswinds.

The experienced Graeme Parker led out the Limit group, which consisted of seven riders including three trial riders – Nicole Humber, Jac Dawson and Libby Crumpler.  John Faulkner, Greg Curnow and Robert Young made up the Limit group and they set off at 28 minutes for the 55 kilometre race.
The group was soon battling the wind and try as they might, Mother Nature was always going to win this battle.  Over the course of the race the Limit group was strewn like flotsam and the following bunches would come across many singles and pairs at intervals.
Nicole took a tumble during the race and sustained some minor injuries.  We hope she is not too stiff and sore in the morning.

Five riders set off at 23 minutes and they too soon felt the wraith of the wind.
Roger McMillan, Brian Lee, Phil McLennan, Barry Robinson were joined by Belinda Burgoyne. Losing one rider before the turnaround reduced their chances, but sometimes a chance is all you need.
They had the race lead and it was hard to tell if the expressions were grimaces or smiles – so many teeth!  In these conditions, the bunch was chasing an unlikely victory…but it was “catch us if you can”!

A group of nine riders rode off at 15 minutes.  Brad Dawson was back for another trial, as was Matt Turner.
Jason Hendry got to race after getting a reprieve from official duties (injured Club Champion, Tim Canny stepped in and volunteered to marshal).
Dan Crook was out for just his fifth bike race.  The rest were all old hands at this game, with Noel Said (visiting from Northern Cycling), Dan Whelan, Peter Livitsanis, Bob Morley and James Gretton adding the race experience.
Only a few casualties on the run up to the turnaround point meant that they were still in with a good show.

As always, the turn is a technical section which sees many riders come unhinged from their group – today was no exception.  Whelan and Crook dropped their bunch at the turn and never looked back.  Whelan powered into the wind and Crook hung on to his wheel.
Whelan sensed a rare opportunity and together they gradually opened an irreversible gap as hunted the front of the race.

Third Scratch were next away at ten minutes and consisted of a very talented mix.
Ash Burke was out for his second trial ride – the experience has all been positive for Burke and he joined as a club member late in the afternoon.
Paul Williams was having his first road race (and trial ride).  Paul Crack, Michael Veal and Craig Lightfoot presented with varying degrees of fitness and it was great to see Grant Dawson pinning a number on.
The final member of the group was former Club Champion, Andrew Rushton – off ten minutes…let’s just savour that for a moment…
On the road and legs were screaming very early on as the group threatened to blow themselves apart with the aid of the wind.  As tempting as it was to unleash on the downwind sections, the group held some restraint in their efforts, but not before dropping one of their number inside the first 10 kilometres.
The climb to the turnaround saw a mini implosion and just a few remained to hold off the hordes.

A second glance of the white board was required to ensure the Second Scratch riders were in the right place.  If ever an example of the bond between sister cycling clubs Eureka and Ballarat-Sebastopol was to be made…this was it!  Each rider in this group is either a current or past BSCC member. Trialling today were Andrew Sullivan and star Strava KOM hunters Ben Clark and Shannon Meadows.
Dave Olgivie was out for his first race as a Eureka member and he was joined by Jim Crumpler, Lindsay Burgoyne, Dean Wells and Peter Kiel.
Launched at 3 minutes, the group new their best hope lay in staying together.
The speed on the first leg through Blowhard almost dismantled the bunch.  They lost one rider which reaffirmed the need to ride smart.  Dialing back on the enthusiasm, the group kept their rotations as steady as possible in the gusty conditions.
Tiring riders rotated less often and the speed was backed off heading up to the turnaround.  Renewed excitement when they saw the Scratch bunch not too far behind, but with daylight between each rider.  Maybe they had a chance.

Scratch featured two new club members – Sam Smith and Brett Martin.  Matt Bowman was back after recent success in the 3000 metre individual track pursuit (possibly not the best type of lead in race to a 54 km handicap).  Rob Ellis, Craig Lee and Jason Birch joined “old hands” Brendan Schiemer and Tony Mirabella as they set off in pursuit of the field.
Arguably the Second Scratch group featured as many inform riders as Scratch, so the battle was always going to be hard just to take any time out of them.  The strong tailwind through Blowhard soon wreaked a toll as riders were put to the sword by their own group.
The group blew apart on the climb to the turnaround with most riders being isolated for the entire leg home into the headwind.  This one would go down as a harsh lesson learned for the Scratch riders.

Up ahead, Belinda Burgoyne and Phil McLennan had ridden away from Brian Lee and Roger McMillan.  They were steaming towards the finish line, however their lead was diminishing with each pedal stroke as Dan Whelan towed Dan Crook within sight.

Behind the leading riders the race was starting to come together as the Second Scratch group – which was still fielding 7 riders – rolled up group after group.  A few surges were not enough to drop any of the riders they had collected and Mick Veal was even seen to take the odd turn rotating with Oligivie, Clark, Sullivan and Co.  No sign of Scratch behind!

Into Donovans Road and the two Dans were closing fast on Burgoyne and McLennan.  So fast that when Whelan made the catch inside the last three kilometres, they dropped both riders.  Burgoyne dug deep and clawed her way back onto the wheel as Whelan still powered on in front.

Second Scratch still couldn’t drop any of the riders they had picked up along the way.  Surges by Olgivie, Wells and Sullivan reaped no reward, however the peloton quickly closed on the last handful of riders from the 15 minute group…and grew even larger.

Down towards the finish line and the pressure from Whelan had finally dropped Burgoyne.  Inside the last 100 metres and Crook peeled out and rode away to his first club victory.
Whelan a ridiculously gallant 2nd place in the longest lead out ever witnessed at Eureka.
Burgoyne crossed a few seconds later in 3rd place and then the wait was on for the dark mob that was swarming down the road towards the finish.

Second Scratch was front and present in readiness for the sprint action.  Veal launched very early and Wells went next as he tried to lead out his men.  Olgivie sprinted hard before Hendry surged out of the pack and claimed 4th ahead of Sullivan and Olgivie.

A few minutes later and the Scratch group were sprinting for a possible Fastest Time result.  Sam Smith just having enough left in the tank to hold Brendan Schiemer off.  Only seconds separated their times from that of Second Scratch.

Many thanks to the marshals who braved the wind – Mal Rock, Brian Ure, Michael Lynch and Tim Canny.

Results:
1st – Dan Crook (15 min)
2nd – Danny Whelan (15 min)
3rd – Belinda Burgoyne (23 min)
4th – Jason Hendry (15 min)
5th – Andrew Sullivan (3 min)
Fastest Time – Sam Smith (Scratch) in 1h 24m, ave. 39.2 kph

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