Posted by on 03/12/00
A very large field of 46 riders fronted up for the first scratch race of the year to go over Marshal Mount hill. With riding conditions near perfect it all was coming together for a good day's racing.
The largest A grade field for the summer, 18 riders, lined up for the start of the 41km scratch race. All the riders were very tentative, as they were not sure who was going well this early in the road season.
It wasn't long before the big guns all tried their hand at breaking up the field. Guy Mathiske, John Forrest, Mal Haigh and Chris Brown were all very active, but the vigilant bunch was not about to let anyone get away. They all stayed together over the climb up Marshal Mount. Just before the end of the first lap a small group comprising Tony Pulo, Frank Soto, Mick Lockyer and Brendan Cato slipped off the front of the bunch and got a small gap. The breakaway worked well together and lasted for over 4kms.
On the final climb of Hooker hill Cato displayed his class and pulled away from the bunch. With no one willing to do the chasing Cato built a resonable gap. As the finish of the race approached the bunch picked up speed and it looked like Cato might be run down but he dug deep and held on for a 3 second win. Brown led the bunch home from Forrest in third place.
The B grade field was also quite large with 13 riders. There were a few early moves but basically they were all waiting till the climb. Ernie Hall went to the front on the climb and stretched the field out, Dave Morris matched him pedal stroke for pedal stroke until the final 100m. A small group led by Hall and Lionel Covington led over the top of the climb. A smaller group comprising the sprinters had their work cut out for them to get back on, but they made it.
Brendan Scollary dug deep a few times and had a few of the riders struggling, but there was always someone willing to chase him down as he is too dangerous to let get away. Dave Morris attempted to steal the thunder of the sprinters by breaking away with 3km to the finish, Peter Kelly quickly joined him but they were caught at the approach to the finishing straight.
As the riders lined up for the sprint Adam Hotchkis flew from the back of the pack and was not headed all the way to the line. Jason Johnson just pipped Mick Kejda on the line for second place.
The C grade bunch quickly broke up into several small groups with Mark Owen doing most of the damage. Grant Farr joined Owen and the two of them worked well together and pulled away from the chasers. The pursuing group also splintered with Pat Delahunty and Peter Evans setting off after the front two.
Owens proved too strong for Farr and took the race easily with Delahunty out sprinting Evans for third place.
Rebecca Borgo topped off her training for the upcoming National track titles with an excellent ride in winning D grade. Josh Wall's run of bad luck continued with another puncture. New comer Teegan Makowski rode a very good race and was rewarded with second place with the ever-determined Ian Cooper taking out third.
Next week's race is a 41km handicap with group 5 providing the marshals.
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