October 23, 2016 – Handicap – Coghills Creek, 59 km

The Master Of Affairs – 22 May 2016

Coghills Creek Handicap 59 km

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Mirabella Still The Master

master

noun
1. a person with the ability or power to use, control or dispose of something

affair

noun 
1. an event or performance

Just in case anyone hadn’t noticed, Tony Mirabella has put a big stamp on the 2016 racing season.  Multiple wins early in the season have been followed by multiple wins in the latter part of the season.
In the middle of the season (winter), Tony took his family on along overseas holiday.  That holiday also meant that for the first time in memory…Tony spent time OFF the bike.  That break has not done any damage to his fitness and it also means he is fully refreshed for the business end of the season!

Spring tried to raise its head today, however any heat the sun put out was quickly whipped away by the chilly south breeze.  The wind chill factor had the “feels like” temperature hovering around the zero mark as riders rolled up to the start of a 59 kilometre handicap.

An early casualty for the day was John Faulkner.  John has been in rare form and has clearly ridden his bike so hard that he broke it…well at least a gear cable.  John’s late scratching left a solitary rider to tackle the limit mark of 25 minutes.  That rider was Graeme Parker and he wasn’t sighted until late in the race.

Matt Ritchie and James Gretton were away at 18 minutes.  Fast with the tail wind and slow with the head wind was the order of the day.  They worked as well as two riders can.  They held onto 8 minute group for a few hundred metres, however they were swept aside with about 12 kilometres remaining and rode home sharing each others company.

The 13 minute group struggled with the wind and cold as well.  Roger McMillan was dropped during the second large lap and was courageous in finishing alone.  Terry Collie is still acclimatising to the extended Victorian winter after his Pacific Island holiday and he felt every knife of that cutting cold as it fought through his multiple layers.Both Terry and Brian Lee were able to stay with the 8 minute group when they were caught.

The 8 minute group consisted of Peter Livitsanis, Bob Morley and Dan Whelan.  They rode a smart and controlled race and on the first lap only lost 1 minute to the chasing 4 minute pair.  By the second lap they had most of the out marker groups in their sights and set about picking them off.

The 4 minute pair was Rob Phillips and Dean Wells.  Rob looked after Dean who was on a “training ride” after requesting a move out whilst overcoming illness.  They held the Scratch group off until late on the second lap, then joined in the chase effort.

The Scratch group were men on a mission today.  Matt Bowman was back for his first club race in a while.  His time trialling prowess came to the fore today as he led the chase.  Tony Mirabella and Andrew Rushton both have some good form at the moment, however they were equally full of praise for Matt’s efforts in driving them towards the finish.
Catching Phillips and Wells was a small relief for the Scratch group as they could now spread the workload and chase down the other riders. Bowman was almost lost on quarry hill, however some quick thinking teamwork brought him back as they turned to get the tailwind for the final time.

With the gap between the combined Scratch/4 minute bunch and the Morley bunch decreasing with every pedal stroke the chasers started planning the assault…only to realise that there was still another rider (Parker) further up the road.
No time for horse play, so the catch was really just a high speed pass that was easy for the Morley bunch to jump onto.

Turning at the church the pace backed off as fewer riders started sharing the lead.  Mirabella put in a few surges and at one point almost split the large bunch.  The bunch regrouped as Parker was caught at the turn into Donovans Road.
A few more surges up the rise dropped some riders off the back of the bunch and then Bowman opened a small gap.  Mirabella jumped out of the pack in an effort to get across in the head wind, but the gap behind him had blown open and none of the chasers seemed to want to work together.

Mirabella caught Bowman with about 3 kilometres remaining.  Bowman had finally blown after all his earlier efforts and so together they swapped turns to try and hold the chasers at bay.  They had 100 metres on Rushton and Phillips with Livitsanis hanging onto those two.
Wells was able to claw his way across to this group then took over the chase.
Could they bridge the gap?  The leaders were just…there!

The gap was gradually closed and cresting the final rise was probably less than 40 metres.  A final effort by Bowman and Mirabella put the race out of the chasers reach and left them to fight out the finish.
In the run to the line, Mirabella scooted away for a comfortable win over the brilliant Bowman.
Rushton hooked out from behind the Wells “lead out train” to open his sprint early and catch Phillips and Livitsanis unawares.  It worked, but Rushton soon found that finish line seemed to be getting further away, not closer.  He held to the line from Phillips and the ever tenacious Livitsanis.

Race Results:
1st – Tony Mirabella (Scratch)
2nd – Matthew Bowman (Scratch)
3rd – Andrew Rushton (Scratch)
4th – Rob Phillips (4 min)
5th – Peter Liviutsanis (8 min)
Fastest Time: Tony Mirabella in 1:37:30

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