In perfect racing conditions, riders set off in five bunches to contest the Footscray Cycling Club’s third annual Andrew McKellar Memorial Handicap.

The handicap format required each bunch of riders to co-operate, stay intact and push themselves to the limit to keep the chasing bunches at bay and chase down the bunches ahead.

The gun riders of scratch started out with a 21-minute deficit to make up over limit.

With the sun shining and a light headwind, the five focused bunches set off from the Little River Reserve and headed out to complete five laps of the street circuit at the base of the You Yangs Regional Park.

All five bunches managed to stay intact for the first few laps.

The race heated up on lap four when limit and second limit merged, with the middle markers locked onto their tails, and the combined scratch and second scratch bunches locked on to the bunches ahead.

The middle markers caught limit and second limit attempting to drop them on the last lap, but conditions were simply too light, allowing caught riders to sit on with ease.

As this combined bunch passed the You Yangs, scratch rolled on by, so the last lap saw all bunches together, a few tempers frayed with everyone scrambling for a wheel.

This infighting continued all the way to the last kilometre, when riders jostled for position for the sprint, with this mass bunch lunging toward the deceptive, inclined finish-line full gas and with varying levels of success.

In the end, it was 17-year-old rising star and Williamstown resident Hamish Munro who had the legs, taking a strong win from Josh Zammit and Miles DaCosta.

An ecstatic Munro was singing the praises of his fellow scratch members after the race.

“Everyone was taking their turn and we never skipped a beat and rolled pretty smoothly, which I think is why we caught second scratch quickly on lap two,” Munro said.

“We were really flying, but it was too easy to hang on to the back so they all got on.

“It was a pretty scrappy finish, so many guys stayed with us, so it was crowded.

“I made sure I stayed up the front and I was getting ready for the bunch sprint.”

Travis Small and Leigh Kelly were the first to attack with 300 metres to go. Munro kept them in check and launched his own attack, doing enough to hold off all comers.

“It was one of those finishes where you just put your head down and push,” he said.


Mark Micallef