Anzac Day victory

May 5, 2024 BY

A staple race in the Mount Gambier Cycling Club calendar the Soldier’s Memorial Race, sponsored by Borg Manufacturing, was held on Anzac Day along a 42km out and back course from Yahl to Dry Creek and back.

This race has been held in various locations over the years, but consistently since the end of World War II.

The weather for this edition of the race was a little colder and wetter than anticipated, but 24 hardy souls nominated for the race, with riders coming from Adelaide and Warrnambool to participate.

In an effort to try and ensure that riders were given an even chance to emerge victorious, the handicapper attempted to group the participants according to their ability.

After the Ode of Remembrance and a minute’s silence was observed, the first riders away were Martin Farmilo and David Tuppen, a visiting rider from Port Fairy.

They were followed six minutes later by Michael Dethmore, Jen Buckland and young Molly Opperman.

A nine minute wait ensued until John Cranwell and Sandra Parsons were allowed to begin their race, followed by a further four minute wait for Ethan McKenny, Chris Neave and Geoff Verhoef to start their chase.

The largest group in the race, consisting of Stephen Jones, Tim Koopman, Rob Mann, along with visiting riders from Victoria, Jason Saunders, Daniel Falcone and Will Verhoef, had to wait a further 12 minutes before beginning their race, and were followed five minutes later by former Olympian and current national track endurance coach Tim Decker along with Scott Waters and Victorian young guns Alasdair Norris and James Verhoef.

Finally, after a further four minutes had elapsed, some 36 minutes after the first riders had been given their start, the final group consisting of local young rider Jami Buckley and visiting guns in Oliver Anderson, Cadel Howie and Tim Cutler, were given their orders to chase down all riders ahead of them.

Those spectators waiting at the finish line expected to be in for about an hour wait for the riders to return, so some took the opportunity to cheer on the riders at various parts of the course.

Out on the track most of the groups stuck together, although David rode ahead of Martin, and Jami found the pace of the visiting riders too strong, and was consigned to the long lonely race at the back of the pack.

The wind coming from the south west for most of the race meant that riders were contending with cross winds for the majority of the race.

At the turnaround mark, David was clearly in front, with Martin being caught and passed by Jen, Michael and Molly.

The rest of the groups were working hard to catch the groups ahead of them, though perhaps conceding that victory was out of their reach as they witnessed the lead rider on his return leg.

As the spectators from out on the course came back to the finish line, everything was in readiness for watching the final sprint to the line.

The first rider in sight had a clear margin over everyone else, so David Tuppen (pictured above left) was able to raise his hands in a victory salute as he crossed the line.

Almost 10 minutes elapsed before the next riders were in sight, with Molly Opperman outsprinting Michael Dethmore to second place.

Will Verhoef was the next rider to cross the line, closely followed by the sprinting Jason Saunders ahead of Daniel Falcone, Tim Koopman and John Cranwell. Jen Buckland was next across the line, followed by Sandra Parsons, Geoff Verhoef and Stephen Jones. James Verhoef won the sprint from the second last group to start, ahead of Alasdair Norris, Rob Mann, Scott Waters and Tim Decker.

They were followed in by Oliver Anderson, with the fastest race time, Tim Cutler and Cadel Howie. Ethan McKenny, Chris Neave, Martin Farmilo and Jami Buckley rounded out the finishing riders.

Presentations to the first five placegetters, fastest rider, and first female rider were made at the RSL, with the RSL Women’s Auxiliary catering for the riders, spectators and their families.