November 5, 2017 – Ron Rivette Memorial – handicap at Balliang, 53 km

His Royal Speediness – 5 November 2017

Ron Rivette Memorial
Handicap

Balliang Hall – Granite Road circuit – 53 km

EVCC Ron Rivette 2017 poster

A day to remember our mates who don’t ride with us anymore – Ron Rivette and Craig Fromhold.
We are poorer for having lost our mates who loved cycling so much and that is why we are aligning ourselves with RU OK? 
A conversation could change life.

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A field of 22 lined up for the fourth edition of the Ron Rivette Memorial on Sunday morning at the Balliang Hall.  The sun occasionally peaked out from behind the clouds and even though the threat of rain had passed a cool south easterly breeze was starting to intensify and so many riders kept their layers on when the race commenced.
Only the brave would wear short sleeves…or a skinsuit…

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Eastern Vets rider Brian Farrell was the first away, solo at 28 minutes.  It was a long wait until the 14 minute group received instructions from race referee Terry Collie.
Reigning champion Roger McMillan was joined by James Gretton (2nd in 2016), James Burzacott, Louis Nuspan and new rider Jason Hendry.  To be fair, we don’t see Louis all that often, so he is a quasi new rider.  It would be interesting to see how this group of experienced and novice racers would fair out on the testing circuit.

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Shortly afterwards the 11 minute group set off.  The regular grouping of Bob Morley, Peter Livitsanis, Dan Whelan and Kevin Lee are well versed in racing together, yet were under no illusions how difficult it would to hold off the rampaging hordes.
Another group of mixed ability and race craft set off at 6:30 minutes.  Local riders aplenty in this group with Grant Dawson out for his long awaited return.  Joining him for the fray was Steve Biram donning a skinsuit and James Knipe who lives close enough to use the Balliang roads as his training grounds.  Mark O’Callaghan, Jeremy Humber and another relatively newbie – Peter Gunston – rounded out the bunch.

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Second Scratch were prepared to be the chopping block.  On a flat course this group would revel with their powerful engines, however the Granite Road climbs made the 2:30 minute mark seem tiny.  That said, it was still six riders who regularly feature in A Grade and have a swag of Fastest Times between them.  Local riders Matt Ayres, Richard Taylor and semi local Matt Bowman were joined by the equally talented Rick Calvert, Paul Pickersgill and Stuart Brien.

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Scratch was the Tim Canny and Tony Mirabella pairing who have wreaked so much havoc this season.  Tim was fresh and ready to fire, however Tony was predicting pre-race that he was only running at 85 %.  This didn’t stop the punters coming for Canny though.  His overnight odds (3-1) had been slashed to evens once the handicap board was made public, yet still they wanted more…

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Out on course and Brian Farrell was steadily losing ground to the 14 minute group which so far was staying together.  The rolling hills through Staughton Vale tested new rider Hendry and it was already evident that McMillan and Burzacott were both on a flyer.  Gretton was making sure the group stayed together.  Those rolling hills caused issues for the next two groups with both losing riders.

The 11 minute group saw Morley lose contact and the 6:30 group surprisingly had Knipe and O’Callaghan in trouble.
Second Scratch were holding strong with Ayres and Brien pouring on the pace.  The hills provided some relief for Calvert who excelled whilst his more muscled counterparts were slowed by the inclines.
Scratch were already closing fast on the riders ahead and had taken close to a minute off them in the first 15 kilometres.

Onto the steep Granite Road climb and the 14 minute group had the race lead.  Burzacott and McMillan were controlled as they ascended the mount.  Nuspan and Hendry were doing well to remain in contact and Gretton was making sure no-one was shelled.

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Not far behind the 11 minute group had taken big chunks of time out of the leaders.  Whelan flew up the climb like a gazelle, Livitsanis was dancing on his pedals and Lee was cussing the upsloping bitumen.  Farrell wove his way up the climb and behind him was Morley looking none too happy with the situation.

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The 6:30 minute group were next up the climb with Dawson on the front tapping out a steady rhythm with Gunston and Humber in tight order.  Biram struggled with the steep section, yet only lost a few lengths before the crest.  Knipe and O’Callaghan had lost a few minutes and had Second Scratch breathing down their necks – though Bowman was falling off the back, so Calvert and Pickersgill controlled the climb to ensure he could latch back on for the downhill.

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Barely a minute later and Scratch started the climb.  Canny was cruising up the climb, however the high speed chase has taken its toll on Mirabella who waved him on “Go forth young man and find your worth”.  And he does!

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The eastward downhill section of Granite Road is long and fast.  Most riders topped 60 kph as they hurtled down towards the turnaround.  Once at the base of the hill the road tilts upwards slightly and the riders press forward to the U turn which always seems to be either just around this bend, or just over that rise.  Finally the riders turn and can see what advantage they have over the chasers.

McMillan and Burzacott were the first around the cone with Nuspan and Hendry close behind.  A short gap to Gretton but then Whelan and company come into view.  Dawson and his mob aren’t far behind and there is Second Scratch and Canny not far behind.
The field is starting to compress…

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McMillan and Burzacott are flying up the same hill they seemingly just descended.  The south east breeze has picked up and is worth a gear or two on the 3 to 4 % grade of the lower section.  The first of two steps kicks the road up to 8 % yet and is quickly followed by the second step where the road kicks up to 12 %.  Nuspan and Hendry both lose touch.  Gretton is in no mans land and Whelan has ridden away from Livitsanis and Lee.

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The 6:30 minute group has blown apart in the chase with Gunston riding clear of Dawson.  Biram is pacing himself with Humber barely hanging on.
Canny has swept past Second Scratch.  Calvert and Pickersgill turn themselves inside out to hang on.  Calvert lasts longest but Canny crests the hill with clear space behind.  Taylor and Brien are chasing hard – separately.  Ayres and Bowman are just off the back as the glimmer of hope to rejoin is slowly extinguished.

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McMillan races towards Staughton Vale and is imagining the glory of back to back victories.  Burzacott is a strong partner and they can’t see anyone behind as they charge down the weaving rolling hills.  Gunston is the nearest danger having caught and dispatched Whelan.  Biram is putting his time trialling ability to work with Dawson and they eventually rejoin Gunston.  Canny is next on the road.
Calvert and Pickersgill have united in their chase.  Behind them Brien whistles to Taylor who is a few metres ahead.  Taylor eases and they join forces.

Through Staughton Vale and the road sweeps east towards the Balliang Hall.  McMillan and Burzacott hold a short lead over Canny.
Three small groups have formed behind…Gretton has tacked onto Gunston, Biram and Dawson.  Calvert and Pickersgill have picked up Whelan, Livitsanis and Hendry.  Brien and Taylor are closing and all three groups come together with twelve kilometres remaining.

Canny has pounced on the leaders.  McMillan has latched on – Burzacott missed the boat.

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Down to the finish line and the bell rings out for one “square” lap…10 kilometres!  McMillan is glued to Canny’s wheel as they turn north.
Burzacott is steadily losing ground and the eleven man chase group receives the bell just three hundred metres back.

The Second Scratch riders aren’t happy with all the passengers they have picked up.  Calvert throws caution to the wind accelerates into the turn.  Brien kicks as they straighten and riders are scrambling for wheels.  A few don’t have the leg speed and fall off the back.
Calvert and Brien repeat the dose at the next corner.  Pickersgill and Taylor give support and they have dropped all bar Biram and Gunston.

Four kilometres remaining and Canny takes the second last turn at speed.  His rear wheel skips, slips then grips.  McMillan isn’t quite as game and finally he has lost the wheel.
The chase group are dawdling and just rolling through, some not even that.  McMillan is just up the road and they are gaining, but not quick enough.  Brien, Calvert and Taylor try to wind the pace up higher.  There is not so much reluctance to help as an inability to help.
Second place is just up the road – chase hard, chase now!

Into the home straight and Canny is completing his virtual victory lap, having been in the lead for the last eleven kilometres.
Down to the flag and Canny has smashed this one completely out of the park with quite possibly his best performance with Eureka yet!

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McMillan still holds down second, though the headwind in the home straight is a lot tougher when riding solo.  He looks to his left and can see the chasers coming up to the turn – his margin is slim.
300 metres to the finish line and McMillan is still fifty metres ahead.  Brien and Taylor are leading the chase, burying themselves and getting closer to McMillan with every stroke.
100 hundred metres to the line and he is still clear.  Brien and Taylor are fading, Biram comes through down the centre of the road and Gunston is sprinting out wider.

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50 metres from the line and they surge past McMillan.  Gunston edges ahead of Biram for second, Pickersgill a length back in fourth, Taylor and Brien a blur, then the courageous McMillan ahead of Calvert who had been blocked behind a wall of riders in the sprint.

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Results:
1st – Tim Canny (Scratch)
2nd – Peter Gunston (6:30 min)
3rd – Steve Biram (6:30 min)
4th – Paul Pickersgill (2:30 min)
5th – Richard Taylor (2:30 min)
Fastest Time: Tim Canny (Scratch) in 1h 21m 45s, ave. 38.7 kph

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