Kevin Feely, Ronald Purtle and Will Lumby at the turn with two laps to go during Saturday’s Bena criterium.
THE old highway past the former Bena Primary School was the venue for the Saturday racing.
The racing format was for graded criteriums.
With four Warragul riders joining in for the racing, there were two senior grades and a junior grade.
Criterium racing on this “hotdog” circuit is very intense as riders have to slow for turns and then accelerate away and this occurs every 800m. Throw in two small hills and riders are under pressure all race.
The A Grade field of 10 riders raced for 35 minutes place another 3 laps so racing was around 45 minutes. Early in the race it was Ronald Purtle and Warragul rider Shane Styles who put the pressure on.
This was followed by an attack from Lachy Matthews.
However, with the field all together at around the 25 minutes mark it was Cyrus Monk (Warragul) and Thomas McFarlane who lifted the pace and rode away from the field.
This proved to be the decisive move and Cyrus was riding strongly, eventually shaking Thomas. Cyrus took the win, Thomas second and Will Lumby won the bunch sprint for third. They were followed by Shane Styles, Ron Purtle, Davis Supple, Kevin Feely with a break then to the others.
In B Grade there were nine starters.
They were riding 25 minutes plus three laps.
The bunch stayed together until around the 20 minute mark where several riders were unhitched.
There was a little respite as the A Grade field caught and passed the bunch. At the Bell lap there were still seven riders in contention.
At the last turn Harrison McLean attacked and opended up a gap with only Michael Park getting on the wheel.
The dash back to the line saw Michael take a great win with Harrison hanging on for 2nd just ahead of John Batten (Warragul).
They were followed in by Neil White, Steve Wilson, Kerry Pritchard and Gary Campbell in the bunch.
After a slow start to the season for Michael and Harrison they are finding they can mix it with the more senior riders and really starting to ride well.
In the Junior race over 15 minutes and two laps, there were five starters. In addition to their mass start criterium they were also racing in a secret handicap so even if they were dropped by the bunch they needed to keep riding hard for the handicap component.
Around the midpoint Bernadette Fitzgerald managed to put a gap into the others with Alex Bennett trying to go with the move and Grace McLean having trouble with her gears also losing contact.
The two younger riders – Oliver and Thomas – kept circulating together. Grace rode strongly to the finish to take a well-earned win from Alex and Grace.
In the last laps Oliver rode away from Thomas to take fourth. However, in the secret handicap it was Thomas who ended up with the win from Oliver and then Bernadette.
Next week’s racing is at Outtrim with the senior race finishing atop Mt Misery – a mountain top finish like the Tour riders. Tuesday night there is a club meeting at Neil White’s residence, Kongwak.