Bernie Blasts to Victory
Bernie Swart looks every bit the powerhouse and proved today that the potential he shows on the SWCC group rides can be translated into the race situation as he blasted up the final climb to not only win the sprint but turn it into a non-contest as he claimed his first road race victory at the Henk and Marg Stoffers event.
Bernie was in the large chopping block group who had a 4 minute head start on scratch and reports were that he not only won the sprint finish, he also put in some powerful turns throughout the race. Unfortunately this meant Chris DeChaneet fresh from a trip to Bali was an early casualty from the group and proceeded to lap on his own. The rest hung tough however and with some strong work by the likes of Phil Smith, Brent Allen, Denny Teede, Steve Roberts, Bryce Lanigan, James Stephenson, Joel Bertram and Mike Sleegers with the odd attack to mix things up from Kim Overington. This group worked their way through the field reeling in all of the front markers by the start of the final lap.
The scratch group had been making good time in the first two laps but could not keep this pace up despite enormous turns from the tandem pairing of Mark and Wanda on the back straight and Peter McDonald driving the group with assistance from youngsters Nicholas Lawler and Connor Lambert and the experienced Mick Darlington. Soeren Groen was also showing good form in this group but with the handicapper adding a minute to the deficit after 3 late entries, it was always going to be tough to make up 45 seconds a lap.
Meanwhile out in front Nat Commons, Walter Tresnak and Liesl Swart were the bunnies off go and actually came through having completed a lap before scratch even got going. Nat was showing heaps of determination and working well with Walter while Liesl dropped off to lap steadily on her own and is looking more and more comfortable on the bike after a rapid increase in mileage lately.
The second group on the road included Kerri Wallis who was extremely apprehensive about competing and Steve Camarri, Mark Thomas and Dean Richards were instructed to start steadily and look after her and wait for the girls bunch who were just a minute behind. These instructions went out the window however as Steve and Mark powered away while Dean and Kerri found their legs and the gap back to the girls stayed at the 1 minute mark for the first 3 laps.
As always Denise Allan was doing a power of work in the chicks group. She is becoming more of a seasoned road racer these days however and the group started working well as Erin and Jessica got into the swing of the race. Great to have Deb Visentin back out at a club race and she was also riding strongly as was young Ben Hastie.
In front of the girls the 8.5 minute group lost the tandem pairing of Jason and Maureen early on as they found the pace a bit hot. Former winner Brendon Morrison was organising the troops including Andrew McGruddy, Claes and new racers David Offer and Darren Wallis who were having a good hit out as was Soeren’s friend Michael Jensen. Jenen was one of the few riders from this bunch able to go with the pace when the main bunch came through and ended up finishing strongly although not listed in the official results as he is not a member.
Some healthy MR / Bunbury rivalry saw Mike Sleegers try to stir things up with an attack with James Stephenson. This was quickly reeled in, but in the final lap it was Stephenson who again jumped away before the final corner. Although inexperienced Bernie was quickly onto the move and had Stephenson’s wheel at the bottom of the final climb. Bernie was always going to have too much power with 150m to go and put in an impressive display that had daylight second. Stephenson held on for third behind Jensen while Brent and Bryce had a good tussle again with Brent claiming it this time ahead of Joel, Ben Hastie, Phil Smith and a fast finishing Erin Kinneally.
The scratch group made up a minute in the final lap but were still around one minute down at the finish. The sprint for fastest time was highly competitive however with Nicholas showing his strength to cross the line ahead of Peter McDonald and Connor Lambert.
Earlier Courtland Wood had taken out the 24km event after initially losing time to the handicapped Harrison Lawler before finding a second wind in the last couple of laps and actually pulling away from Harrison.
Many thanks to Tony Shaw, Leonie, Michelle and Suzanne and Denny for helping out and to Steve and Darren for coming down from Collie to assist with marshalling. Hopefully we can repay the favour next weekend at their Festival of Cycling. Helpers are needed both days and at this stage the fields for both the Lowry and the Cyclosportif are light on, so get on board and get your entries in and support cycling in the SW. It will be a fantastic weekend!! Click here to enter the Lowry event.