MMBCC race report - by Bruce Halket.
Cash! The lure of the filthy lucre brought out a large field of 32 riders for the MMBCC’s Hotel Delatite Christmas Handicap on Thursday 20 December on the Mansfield-Whitfield Road. The Hotel had generously donated a whopping $300 in prize money; plus more from the club made a total prize pool of $400!
Ten and a half minutes separated the lone Limit rider, Tony Morris, from the lone Scratch rider, Mitch Greenway. But in between were 30 other ‘money-hungry’ riders in six groups.
The biggest group, of seven, was ‘the Chopping Block’ which consisted of Mauro Brega, Bruce Halket, Andrew Gerrans, Stefan Vaivars, Laurie Harding, Ross Hopkins and Tom MacMunn. Mitch’s results in recent weeks have clearly shown he’s in very good form but giving this group of 7 a 30-second head start on a windy evening would prove difficult.
All groups started well, assisted by a reasonably strong southerly breeze. Even so, there were still a few early casualties of the hot pace: both Vaivars and Harding from Block and Tim Ross from the group ahead. The remains of Ross’ group - Darren Bakker, Josh Hopwood, Rob Greenway and Foley Lachal - were caught by Block just before the turnaround at Sawpit Gully Road; Mitch lurked just off the back and looked strong...
However, the second half of the race back into Mansfield proved Mitch’s undoing. On his own into a headwind trying to catch a group of 9 working well together proved a bit too difficult, even for him.
Block rolled turns into the headwind and had caught all the rest of the field by the Barwite Road hill, with about 2km to go! A large group of ‘passengers‘ on the back and a bit of jockeying for position meant a large, potentially dangerous sprint finish looked likely.
However, in a great move, MacMunn and Brega attacked on the last hill and opened a good lead. Etiquette dictates that in Handicap races, anyone that starts in your group is your team-mate until 200 metres from the finish - with no-one from Block prepared to chase down their team-mates, MacMunn and Brega had what looked to be a race-winning lead.
Chris Washusen had a try but couldn’t bridge the gap. Then Mick Feeney had a big ‘go’ and got the bunch a bit closer. Just after Redgum Court, Gerrans and Bakker turned on the afterburners and sprinted side by side to the line! Gerrans took the win by the narrowest of margins.
Halket took third ahead of Steve Plummer, Rob Greenway, Hopwood, Brega held on for 7th, Hopkins, Washusen and Feeney rounded out the top ten places. Thanks to the Hotel Delatite, they were all rewarded with a bit of Christmas spending money. Presentations back at the hotel also saw fastest time awarded to Gerrans (37min 49secs; an average of over 40km/h!)
Many thanks to our volunteers and officials: Julie, Jenny, Fiona, Rachel, Leonie, Tony and George. The Alpine Butchery voucher was awarded to George Chalk for his never-ending help with marshalling and officiating.
The MMBCC’s Summer Series resumes in 2013 on Thursday 17 January on the same ‘Tolmie Road’ course. Entries via SMS to 0438 513 355 by 8pm Wednesday 16 January please.