June 23, 2018 – EUROPA cafe W.A.R.S. round 3 – handicap, Windmill

EUROPA cafe
Winter Aggregate Race Series
23rd June 2018

W.A.R.S. – race 3
Handicap

Windmill – 53 km

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Gods and generals…

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time
– Leo Tolstoy

Saturday 23rd June will long be etched in the memories of Eureka members.  Whilst a small determined brigade stayed at home to battle – an elite squad ventured to the Eastern front and stamped their presence in a dominating fashion.
We could continue with the superlatives about the Eastern front, however this report is about the home guard.  Those few who remained true to the cause and contested a most interesting event. W.A.R.S. take on their own character.  They evolve as necessary.  The combatants deal with what is presented.

Saturday 23rd June was originally scheduled as a handicap.  It was a trial.  Winter racing, in the afternoon…
The rescheduling of the Eastern Vets Open to the same date, saw Eureka Cycling change their race to a graded division event.
Then, as so often happens, the goals changed again.  Few riders arrived at Learmonth for the Saturday afternoon races.
Subsequently, the event was reverted to a handicap.

Eleven riders warmed up on what could best be described as a “bleak day”.  It was cold.  Light showers drifted across the Windmill circuit, yet the breeze was barely there.
A suggestion to further change the event into a two lap (35 km) affair was refused.  The riders wanted to race.  And, race they would – over the full three laps!  Eleven riders, three bunches…light showers would make the race less than pleasurable.

The eight minute group (Limit), rolled off with the resignation that they would be caught mid-race.
Kevin Lee struggled from the start.  Only a late decision saw Kevin even sign on.  His day would be a struggle and just two laps before retiring.
The remainder powered on.  Just three against the rest.
Dan Whelan, Bob Morley and Steve Linane worked well together from early in the race, yet they suspected to be rolled up early.

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At four minutes a most unique group set off.  This bunch says all that is good about veterans racing.  The retired teacher, the doctor and the fireman.
Let’s not forget that the retired teacher is in his seventies!
They rated themselves a chance at catching Limit before Scratch caught them…

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Scratch presented yet another mix of interesting riders.  The cynics among us would suggest it was a lead out train for Tony Mirabella.
Rob Ellis, Tavis Baker and Stuart Brien were the ensemble… then again, those other guys certainly have more than just one trick (hard riding) up their sleeves!

The first lap saw each bunch seemingly taking a cautious line around the circuit.  Sure there were wet sections, however each bunch seemed to be on the same wavelength – let’s just gradually increase our pace.  Except for Lee dropping off the Limit group, the other two bunches were fully intact.

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Through to halfway and the race had started to compress.  Scratch was closing on the four minute group, but Limit still held a significant share of their handicap.

Coming through for the bell lap and Limit was just two riders – Whelan and Morley.  Linane trailed them through a few minutes later and not far behind him came the combined Scratch and four minute bunch.  The Limit riders still held a 3 minute advantage though.  This could be the biggest steal ever!

The combined Scratch bunch had ridden the second Windmill lap almost 90 seconds faster than the first.  Turning towards the quarry they ramped up the pace again. Mirabella pushed hard and swapped turns with Baker.  The rest bit handlebars just to stay in touch.
They swept up Linane and could see the leaders – Morley and Whelan – ahead. Over “Quarry Hill” and the bunch was still together.  They had also halved the distance to the race lead.

Whelan and Morley pushed hard.  They had expected to be caught by this stage.  Glancing over shoulders they could see the chasers in the distance, however maybe they had enough of a gap…

Towards Addington Road and the enlarged Scratch bunch was recovering.  The leaders were just ahead and now was the time to decide when to make the catch.  They gradually closed the distance and finally rolled up the leaders early in Donovan’s Road – just four kilometres remaining.
Ellis assumed the lead and went to the gutter.  The breeze was barely present, so the tactic did not blow the field apart.

Into the final two kilometres and Ellis ramped the pace up as high as he could.  The ten riders were almost in single file, however Humber was caught out wide.  With five hundred metres remaining, Humber made the decision to go!
At the front, Ellis was waiting for the attacks. Baker was close behind and Veal was ready to jump onto any passing wheels.  Humber came down the middle of the road and caught everyone by surprise.  So early!  Even more surprising was Linane coming through at the same time.

Tactics were out the window.  Scripts were cast aside.  No one knew what to do!

Baker gave chase and towed Veal along.  Mirabella hooked out and was caught in two minds as when to sprint.
Back midfield, Brien was giving up any hope when the riders divided like Moses and the Red Sea.  Could it be?  May as well have a go!

100 metres remaining and the race could be won by anyone.
Veal swept to the lead out wide – thanks to the perfect lead out from Baker – then Brien came down the centre of the road and gapped them all for the win.

Results:
1st – Stuart Brien (Scratch)
2nd – Michael Veal (4 mins)
3rd – Tavis Baker (Scratch)
4th – Tony Mirabella (Scratch)
5th – Jeremy Humber (4 mins)
Fastest Time – Stuart Brien (Scratch) in 1h 23m, ave. 38.3 kph

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