Champion and legend – 28th July 2019
GP Doug Garley
Davenport Road – 43 Km handicap
EUREKA CLUB CHAMPION – HONOURS A CHAMPION
SCRATCH – FINALLY ON THE PODIUM
FASTEST EDITION – A NEW DAWN
Glorious sunshine bathed Learmonth for the 2019 edition of the GP Doug Garley. The water was like glass with barely a breath of wind touching the pond (formerly known as Lake Learmonth). It was mighty cold however, with the sun burning off the last of the frost which had fallen overnight, yet it was still perfect racing conditions for all the riders!
Nineteen riders had rugged up well for their warmups, before discarding the extra layers for the race start – which was directly outside the club rooms.
43 kilometres of gravel and tar lay ahead…
the unsealed Davenport Road had been freshly graded during the week…
the sealed roads were dry…
this race promised to be fast…
Darryl Brown and Kevin Lee (2017 GP Doug Garley winner) set off as the Limit group at 16 minutes. With just a four minute advantage on the next group, maybe saving legs and waiting for the catch would be the best option?
Roger McMillan, Peter Livitsanis and Dan Whelan were due to set off at 12 minutes. The lack of any wind would certainly play into this group’s hand, but did the start line timing dramas upset their cause?
Four strong riders set off at 7 minutes. On paper, this was the winning group!
Wayne Klauss, Scott Keating, Dan Crook and Darryn Reed have all got pretty good engines. The unsealed road held no fear for this group as they powered away.
A large group in Second Scratch led by road captain Stu Brien. Rick Calvert and Dean Wells offered significant firepower. However with just three minutes at hand, the unknown was how Andrew Rushton and Dave Ogilvie would cope as they continue their return to race fitness.
There were doubts over the ability of Scratch to catch the front groups without a certain rider (who shall remain unnamed) donning his lycra. Still, a formidable bunch rolled up to the starting gate.
Shane Clarke Jr, Dayne Pearce, Jason Shipcott, Jason Hendry (minus the Dinosaur Jersey) and Craig Lee, had a plan that was simple and slightly masochistic… a smash fest with no passengers – at least until everyone was caught… then smash them even more.
Out of the gate, Clarke showed his commitment to the plan – off like a greyhound chasing a lure. Scratch was flying with everyone working hard and contributing their fair share… they needed to, because the Limit duo of Lee and Brown were already halfway down Henderson’s Road, their advantage bordering on eight kilometres.
Most groups had found their rhythm, however the 3 minute bunch had only taken a few hundred metres out of the distance to the 7 minute group, all the while bleeding time to Scratch.
Within one lap the ‘lure’ (chopping block) had their gap halved and the Scratch plan was looking like a winner!
The difficulty with this circuit is seeing far enough ahead to spot the other groups. The undulating parcours and short straights seemed to always hide the other groups from sight.
Not that any of the racers could tell, but the field was only compressing from the rear. The front groups were holding their gaps, yet Scratch was devouring the space in between.
Laps two and three saw the Scratch group chip away at the gap to Second Scratch – it was the only bunch they could see. Second Scratch had lost Ogilvie earlier and Rushton departed just moments before Scratch collared them – nearing the bell on Davenport Road. At this point, only 45 seconds separated Scratch (now incorporating Brien, Calvert and Wells) from the front of the race. Pearce pulled the trigger first to begin the last lap. This was quickly covered by Wells and the combined Scratch / 3 minute.
Lee put in a big effort at the bottom of the Davenport descent – however it was a wasted effort which was easily covered by Shipcott.
Turning onto Avenue Road for the final time the race came together. The large lead bunch (Brown, Lee, Livitsanis, McMillan, Whelan, Crook, Keating, Klauss and Reed) was taken completely by surprise as the combined Scratch group swept past.
Scratch had found the front of the race – enter Clarke! He hit the afterburners heading up the Avenue dropping all but Lee and Shipcott. The rest scrambled for wheels!
A flick of Clarke’s elbow sent Lee to the front which allowed Hendry and Brien to bridge as they crested the hill. A sharp effort from Keating saw him cross the gap just in time.
The split had been made!
For the others, it was a tough chase to try to get back on. Pearce and Reed led the charge, Wells and Calvert chimed in, yet the leaders were edging away.
The lead group became disorganised after turning into Henderson’s Road for the final run down to the pig farm. Some riders were willing to work, others were just trying to sit on. Finally the remaining Scratch riders started rolling turns. Brien and Keating more than happy with this turn of events!
Only three riders remained in the chase. Huge efforts from Pearce and Calvert set Wells up to finally cross to the lead group.
Pearce also joined soon after – just as the leaders turned at the pig farm. Hendry was on the front, yet when he rolled off, Clarke lit the afterburners (again). There was a little separation, Lee got nervous and went after him – dragging most of the others along. Wells was off the back again.
There would be no getting away in these easy conditions – the weather gods had proven too kind to the less punchier riders.
Onto Davenport Road for the final time and unfortunately for Clarke found himself on the front without any friends.
Hendry had his wheel and every time Clarke flicked his elbow, the big hairy guy just looked the other way.
Lee, Brien, Shipcott and Keating were tucked in behind (Pearce cruising at the back) and waiting for the right time to pounce.
The pace eased enough that Wells almost rejoined before the final climb started – then the fireworks started!
Brien threw caution to the wind and opened up first. Clarke locked in on his wheel, but it was fruitless for both of them.
Lee, Hendry, Shipcott and Keating were all still in the game!
The finish line came into view and Lee first ensured Hendry was boxed in, then he made his dash for the line…
The Sprint Monster would have to do it the hard way and come around the outside – if he wanted the victory today…
Shipcott was chasing, Clarke sat up as Keating flew past, Brien was watching from afar…
The finish line drew closer – it was furious – Lee was unsure if he had the break…
He put all the power he had left into the pedals – the finish line couldn’t come quick enough…
Hendry drew alongside – they reach the line – Lee wins!
Less than a wheel separated Lee and Hendry, a few lengths behind was Shipcott in front of Keating, then Clarke and Brien.
Wells claiming Pearce just before the line for the final paid placing.