In a twenty one strong field Bartlett held on to win by a centimetre from Hubbard in a race that included the return to the road of local champion Bart Duraj, visiting Victorian junior gun Liam Edwards and the Deputy Chair of Cycling Australia Duncan Murray.
In perfect weather Commissar Richie Bates sent the big field away with Gary Haydon and Linc Carolan setting a more than generous pace, however they were not alone through the early laps with Damien Ingram, Peter Bridgewater, Bart Duraj , Bernard Cossar – Smith and Liam Edwards ready to pounce as soon as the pace slackened. Then it was the turn of Shane Gelling and Andrew Harper showing that the Mad Dog duo were up to anything this classy field would throw at them.
Past the judges box on the fifth lap Damien Ingram jumped from the field setting a strapping pace. In pursuit was Edwards and Carolan smack on his wheel, followed by Gelling and Cossar- Smith, pace a cracker, when Linc Carolan mistimed the position of Liam Edwards Back wheel and a feather touch had the man I call Mr Aggression, sliding across the bitumen. It didn’t looked good, from the crowd Gavin Butler ran to Linc’s aid, however shortly after Gavin gave the spectators the thumbs up and battered Carolan stood the mandatory lap out and re-joined the race. The pace eased once the field realised Linc was resuming, allowing the tough Mountain biker to tack on.
Emerging on lap seven, Graham Grant and Bart Duraj swept to the front followed by Haydon, Ingram and Bridgewater. However the lead was constantly swapping as the Young Victorian Edwards joined Duraj at the top with Shane Gelling and Damien Ingram in close attendance and LOW AND BEHOLD Linc Carolan. Bart Duraj led a lap out from the sprint with Carolan and Ingram next, however there were many in contention to grab the cash, James Bartlett, Graham Grant and Peter Bridgewater were never far off the speed. Swinging into the Spotto St straight Damien Ingram proving he can sprint with the best, hit the front a long way out and drew away to beat the amazing Carolan with Graham Grant third followed by Haydon and Edwards.
Sprint over on lap eleven, Paul Mashford pinched a small break only to be reeled in by Duraj, Andrew Harper and Carolan, the next few laps Bart Duraj despite being away from competitive road racing became the aggressor pinching a break, looking for someone to join him or at least making sure the tempo was genuine. The chase group behind Duraj contained Grant, Bridgewater a small break back to Carolan, Haydon, and Bartlett then a huge group including Simon Hubbard looking comfortable mid field. Laps leading into the final three had Liam Edwards again very prominent as well as Haydon, Carolan, Ingram, Grant and late onto the scene the remaining Mad Dog team of Jamie Holman and Tobia Kipper.
Final Three laps in order past the commentary area Shane Gelling led from Duraj, Haydon, Ingram and Simon Hubbard, however even names not getting a mention to date could still claim the race. Two out and the boy from Shepparton Liam Edwards had pinched a mini break from Grant, Ingram and Haydon (What a race). THE BELL and the evergreen Gary Haydon led in advance of Grant, Ingram and that man again Linc Carolan. Disappearing to the back straight, Haydon still led but a hungry pack sat behind led by Ingram, Grant and Edwards.
Into the Spotto straight, Simon Hubbard a bit better than mid field braked heavily to avoid a marker and lost a little ground, however swinging off Shane Gelling’s wheel and into clear air was the tall man in black, James Bartlett and sprinting brilliantly, James grabbed Ingram and Edwards and looked all over a winner until a balanced up Hubbard was literally mowing the leaders down, Simon moved up on the outside of James and pair hit the line locked together and although the commentator had called Bartlett the winner the photo finish had to be called for. The verdict James Bartlett by the shortest possible margin from Simon Hubbard with Liam Edwards in third spot delighting his Victorian fan club, MUM, DAD AND SISTER. Fourth over the line Damien Ingram and he was followed in by Brandon Hutton, the young track star improving every time he hits the road, just behind Brandon was Linc Carolan fast becoming the crowd favourite never leaving anything on the track except this time a little SKIN and a few drops of blood.
James took the race however Simon Hubbard having a fabulous season won the series. This A Grade race had Sponsor GARY PERKINS grinning from ear to ear, having kept the crowd on the edge of their seat from GO TO Whoa.
Having watched the sizzling pace of the A’s, Mick Mehonoshen, Andrei Tonello and Gavin Butler pinched a mini break on the first lap to set the scene for another classic final of the series. However in the next two laps the field bunched with Paul Thuesen, Kieran Mouldey, Scott Beaven, Neil Gregory and Josh Raynor virtually stating that series leader Liam Mc Donald had real race on his hands. As the field went through lap five Tom Cook and Mick Mehonoshen were prominent leading from another young gun in Cody Haseldine with the flying Italian Bruno Barbarisi third wheel followed by Grahame Allen and Gavin Butler, the big field was throwing out many contenders with Gavin Butler, Grahame Allen and Scott Beaven testing the water with mini attacks leading up to the sprint lap.
Lap before the sprint the lead trio were Scott Beaven, Bruno Barbarisi and Liam Mc Donald who had worked himself nicely into position to snare yet another success in the series, and win he did, over the rise in Spotto Liam McDonald exploded away to take the sprint easily from Neil Gregory with third place to Bruno Bararisi followed by Cody Haseldine, Kieran Mouldey and Tom Cook. However the effort told on the up and coming young rider as Liam simply dropped through the field as was out of contention for the race win. However the series belonged to Liam as he held a substantial lead coming into the race. When spoken to after the race Liam said “I just didn’t have the legs today”
Trough lap twelve I heard a WOOHOO emerge from the lips of executive producer KIM BUTLER as husband Gavin rocketed to the lead from Barbarisi and Mouldey. However Gav was nabbed by Paul Thuesen and Kieran Mouldey riding a terrific race picking up from where he left off after his successful Tour De Tablelands, Kieran was followed by Mick Mehonoshen, Barbarisi and Andrei Tonello. Soon after through laps fourteen and fifteen an attack from Paul Thuesen, Scott Beaven and Kieran Mouldey was looking ominous as the trio put up a serious break, leading the chasers were Cody Haseldine and Gavin Butler. With only two laps left Beaven led Mouldey and Thuesen their break now 15 seconds. With rolling turns in front the trio were increasing their led although Barbarisi was trying desperately to cross.
So at the bell which of the trio could take the race was dividing opinions as Thuesen, Mouldey and Beaven headed for the back straight well clear of Barbarisi and Gregory. Into Spotto and up the rise Scotty Beaven was just getting the better of Paul Thuesen with Kieran Mouldey sliding off their wheels and emerging late, and in a thrilling drive to the line it was Kieran Mouldey taking the win narrowly from Beaven and Thuesen, fourth home Greg Hutton coming from mid field just in advance of Grahame Allen and Kane Hodge with the young rider doing extremely well in one of his first ventures in this tough grade. The series winner overall going deservedly to Liam McDonald for his consistent riding over the three race competition.
With the series leader Ethan Chamberlain unavailable, the race was still Chock full of interest with ten riders facing the starter. The GUN, and Immediately the Mulgrave Bicycle Centres Gary Perkins bounced straight to the front daring everyone in the race to try and steal the cash from his back pocket as the race sponsor. Gary led out from Al Hodge, Mark Procter and Joel Mulligan. However by the next lap Alex Hall and Kath Deed had taken control showing the improving depth of our women riders. They were joined through the next few laps by a relative new comer to the circuit Chris Chastre, hard man Don Huyser and Joel Mulligan another of the newer riders, the pace OK in the early stages.
Lap before the sprint Mark Procter led Joel Mulligan, James Mort unmissable in his bright red outfit and just behind James came Al Hodge and Chris Chastre however not much from first to last. Into the straight for the SPRINT NO ONE WAS GOING TO CATCH GARY head down and travelling, Perkins was going to keep the cash firmly in his pocket although had not Joel Mulligan not pulled his foot just over the rise, Joel could have made it interesting third place to Mark Procter.
Sprint gone and Al Hodge assumed control from Procter, Perkins and Mulligan all ten riders very much in contention with Michael Reid back from a lengthy layoff watching it all unfold at the rear. Leading up to the final three Kath Deed, Mark Procter, Al Hodge, Perkins and Hall all did their share of bullocking at the top, and the order past the judge with two to go was Procter, Hall, Hodge, Mort, Mulligan and Deed, this was a contest. Mulligan hit the front at the bell hotly pursued by Deed, Hodge and Perkins. So any bookmaker worth his salt would be offering 10/1 the field, as it was a very open contest.
The field of ten swung into the straight with Al Hodge looking very solid as he led up the rise with Joel Mulligan out after him closely followed by Kath Deed riding a mighty race from Procter, but over the concluding stages Joel Mulligan drew clear to defeat Al Hodge and Kath close up in third spot next to finish was Michael Reid who will derive plenty of benefit from the hit out after his absence from competitive race riding. An excellent performance by Joel in another very competitive race. The overall winner of the series going to Ethan Chamberlain who took all before him throughout the series, although I believe this will be the last time we see Ethan in this grade.
As you would expect a much steadier tempo for this event with early leader’s Tony Nastasi, Jeff Hartley, and Michael Etherington content to bowl along in front allowing all riders to sit in a rhythm making pretty comfortable for all. 3 laps in Jeff Hartley rolled in front and at the back of the field of eight sat Todd Hartley (no relation). The pace increased in the next few laps mainly due to Andrew Mills, Jaime Thurtell and Julie Scharf raising the stakes heading toward the sprint lap. The order past the judge a lap later saw Julie Scharf heading for Ponzo leading Etherington, Todd Hartley, Tony Nastasi and Mills. Up and over the rise for the dash for cash, surging to the front were Michael Etherington and Andrew Mills just edging away from Julie Scharf and in a fine sprinting performance Michael Etherington dashed away to take first place from Andrew Mills with Julie Scharf a solid third.
Like in the B Grade race though, the sprint took its toll, with Etherington running out of gas and dropping through the field to be out of any chance, as was Tony Nastasi. When both Riders were quizzed over their latter race performances their reasons were polls apart. Michael had umpired two AFL Games the day before However Tony simply said (BOURBON). I assume watching the TOUR.
So now only five hopes left as Kelly D’Andrea fourth in the sprint also feeling the effects of a sprinting effort joined the boys at the back. So as they went through the 3 lap sign. Hartley (Jeff) led Andrew Mills, Hartley (Todd) and Jaime Thurtell with a Small gap back to Julie Scharf. They were the contenders into the Bell lap with Mills and this time Todd Hartley joining in strongly. Into the straight Todd Hartley had Andrew Mills on his wheel with Jaime Thurtell riding a fabulous race chiming in. Over the Rise and the powerful Todd took the race from Jaime who flashed into second close to the wire pipping Andrew for third with Julie fourth. As always a very entertaining race.
The Overall standing for the series had Adam Ewart 1st from Jaime Thurtell.
Massive thanks to Gary for the sponsorship and for the tireless work from Mundi, Glenys, Kim and Don and of course all that pitched in. Oh YEAH Richie too.