Light rain and a moderate North-Westerly greeted riders in Balliang for the Footscray Cycling Club’s 2016 Road Championships, the coveted Jack Allan and Jack Kirkham Memorial, and with Hawthorn unable to make it four-in-a-row in the footy world, we were all wondering if the indefatigable Dominik Dudkiewicz could wear the Red #1 for the fourth year running. As it turned out, the 32 year old Melton resident took his fourth straight Memorial Sash in A-Grade in rather unconventional manner. Firstly, the bunch were clearly in the mood for a rumble as Jason Costin and Travis Small both threw in early attacks, and on the second lap, Miles DaCosta and Dudkiewicz put the bunch in the gutter in an effort to break the bunch up, dropping a few but not creating the carnage they hoped for as the wind was simply not nasty enough. Dudkiewicz then toughened up the race a little more, causing a split that saw himself, Shane Ward and DaCosta in a 3-man break that stuck for a while but still saw a sizeable bunch heading for the finish line. Chris Munro tried his luck about 1 km from the line, attacking the bunch and dashing for the line, but with 200 to go he was swallowed up by the lead-out train that saw Dudkiewicz not break away but rather leave it to a bunch sprint, with Dudkiewicz taking the sprint clear of Ward and DaCosta.
In B-Grade, the field may have been small but everyone there bought their best game to the table, with attacks from the very start making the racing challenging. Going from full-blast attack to coffee-run slow shenanigans, the bunch headed out for the climb over Granite, where eventual winner, Daniel Welch, flew up the steep ascent like he had two electric motors, but the bunch didn’t panic and set about the chase. ‘This is the first time I have raced with a target on my back; I’ve always been an unknown, and having gone over Granite Road so well last week, I attacked and didn’t think I would get caught before the turn; but it did all come back together, which is testament to the quality of the B-Grade riders. I was pretty tired on the way back over Granite and I was surprised to see how much I had broken the bunch up and that only Michael Dam and Hamish Munro were with me. We built trust on the way back to Balliang and worked hard, and just before the last corner I decided to go and I managed to get away from them and hold my lead.’ Welch finished about a minute up on Dam, who was a minute up on the bunch sprint for third, which was taken out by David Procak. 30 year old market researcher Welch was honoured to be the B-Grade champ. ‘I only came out from England 18 months ago, and the Club and my social riding group have been such a great way of making some great mates.’
In C-Grade, 60 year old Werribee resident David Lane capped off a great month with a very tight win over Ross Liley in an action-packed race. Lane punctured just before the race was set to start, and managed to get a new tube in but ominously couldn’t find the offending piece of debris. ‘A puncture before the start – oh no. I knew something must be in the tyre but I could not find it. I then got a puncture at 8k as feared, but the guys waited while I swapped wheels for which I am thankful (that says a lot about our club). The first lap was pretty calm but the 2nd time out I upped the tempo over Staughton Vale to shake things up. On the way back I upped it more, to the point where I split the bunch so only Phil, Ross and myself were left at the front of the race. Phil then started his mini attacks to break our legs and Ross left me to chase – a worry knowing Ross always out-sprinted me in the Tour, but I knew he was a bit flat after a big ride yesterday. No one wanted to lead out going to the line and I knew they had both out-sprinted me from behind in the Tour. It was a real cat and mouse affair – very slow. Phil launched fairly late and I thought he may have the legs, but I went over him and crossed the line without Ross jumping me.’ I am ecstatic – I never really thought I would ever be C-Grade road champ.’
D-Grade’s race was a sparse affair, with Michael Scragg taking the win over veteran Tom Moloney and Steve Biggs.
A: 1st Dom Dudkiewicz, 2nd Shane Ward, 3rd Miles DaCosta.
B: 1st Daniel Welch, 2nd Michael Dam, 3rd David Procak.
C: 1st David Lane, 2nd Ross Liley, 3rd Phil Tehan.
D: 1st Michael Scragg, 2nd Tom Moloney, 3rd Steven Biggs.