Footscray Cycling Club O’Brien Memorial Handicap, April 17, 2016.
In perfect autumn conditions, 5 bunches of determined riders set off to hammer out 80 kilometers of racing around the base of the You-Yangs for the Footscray Cycling Club’s O’Brien Memorial Handicap; the handicap format requiring each bunch of riders to co-operate and push themselves to the limit to keep the chasing bunches at bay, with the gun riders of Scratch starting out with a 20 minute deficit to make up over the Limit men. By mid-race, it was clear that there would be a three bunch race to the line, with Limit and 2nd Limit combining effectively to form a super bunch who kept their average speed higher than expected. Behind them, the ‘Middlemen’ rode a typically lonely race; the bunch staying out in solitude for the entire race, swapping hard turns and trying their best to catch the guys up ahead. Behind these two bunches, we had a combined Scratch and 2nd Scratch powering along, trying to make up the deficit and mow down all ahead of them. In the end though, it was the tenacity of the combined Limit / 2nd Limit bunch that held sway, taking the first fourteen places (!) in the race.
Out of the winning bunch, it was 35 year old Footscray resident Timm Weitzel who took the win with a very strong and decisive move with 500 meters to go, doing enough damage to disconnect any riders on his wheel and allowing him to pace himself to the line for the last 200 meters. ‘Everyone in 2nd Limit did their turns and worked together for the whole race. We caught the bunch ahead and they kept working with us which was great. We held it all together till Flinders Avenue, and then it started breaking up a bit. I knew from the crits that I couldn’t rely on a sprint so I went early and luckily I held on.’ Weitzel, who is new to cycling and only took the sport up last year to help with back issues, crossed the line spent but well clear of the chasers, with veterans Andy Dick and Tommy Gray taking second and third place respectively. Later, at the presentations, Weitzel praised the FCC for the way it brings new riders into the Club. ‘I think the Club has got it right when a rider can start the crits and get tips from people like Barry Cram; the whole Club has been really supportive so it makes it really enjoyable.’
Mere minutes behind, the battle for Fastest Time was a straight out duel between the Club’s two diesel engines, with Miles DaCosta and Travis Small powering up in a haze of black smoke and hammering it out all the way, and crossing the line within inches of each other; Small taking his first ‘Fastest Time’ medallion by the smallest of margins and looking pretty chuffed on his way back to the clubrooms.
1st Timm Weitzel @ 2:04:23, 2nd Andy Dick, 3rd Tommy Gray, 4th Mick Starcevic, 5th Cam Atchinson, 6th Paul Beasley, 7th Francisco Canonigo, 8th Michael Hazeldene, 9th Ian Duffin, 10th Shane McGuirk.
Fastest Time: Travis Small @ 2:07:17 (actual 1:47:17)