The Leongatha Cycling Club ran the annual George Martin Memorial handicap race around the Nerrena-Mardan-Leongatha circuit on Saturday – weather conditions were perfect for a winter day – plenty of sunshine and minimal wind. This was a marked contrast to the previous Saturday when the rain moved in and temperatures plummeted. The George Martin trophy is run in honour of the Club’s first referee and the course selected represents one of the toughest circuits the rider’s race. Usually there is a cold wind blowing over the hilltops at Mardan to challenge the riders. This Saturday they were lucky and this favoured the outmarkers.
The race drew a field of 12 starters with limit at 14 min (Steve Wilson and David Bennett) from the lone scratch rider of Brett Franklin. After a recent series of wins the handicapper set Brett a stiff task chasing 4 minutes to Peter Hollins and Clem Fries.
There was a further 3 minutes out to the trio of Chris Rowe, Phil Hanley and Kevin Feely. At 11 minutes there was a quartet of Rod Cheyne, Brad Bouquet, Kerry Pritchard and Will Lumby. By the turn at the Dumbalk end of the hill the field was still tracking in starting order but the 11 min quartet were going well.
The climb up to Mardan saw the limit riders caught and the quartet were still together as a group. This strength in numbers was to prove vital as they were able to hold there reduced timegap in to the finish with just 30 secs advantage at the end. The run up the Horn St hill saw several attacks from the bunch including a promising dig from Brad Bouquet. However, at the line it was the young legs of Will Lumby which triumphed in a time of 1.09.02. He was followed home by Brad Bouquet, Rod Cheyne and Kerry Pritchard. Chris Rowe lead the next group home just ahead of a big ride from Clem Fries, then Kevin Feely, Phil Hanley, Peter Hollins. Brett Franklin only managing to get a site of the bunch in the last few kilometres finished with Fatest Time in 1.01.19.
The Juniors raced 20km in an out and back run through Nerrena of 20km. The field ran with Matt Winchester (8min), Aaron Fraser (6), Alex Bennett (3), Matt Minogue (1) and Austin Timmins on Scratch. The run up the hills to the turn saw Aaron round ahead of Matt Winchester whilst Austin had managed to pick up Alex and Matt Minogue but was being hampered by a loose shoe cleat. The backmarkers looked to be in with a good chance of the win as Aaron had his lead about halved.
However, with Austin worried about his shoe cleat Aaron kept on working hard and arrived at the finish with a gap of 1.40min to claim the race. Matt Minogue was able to also ride away from Austin to claim second. Austin finished 3rd and fastest in 44.16min. They were followed home by Alex Bennett and Matt Winchester.
report by Lindsay Love