image courtesy Jarrod Partridge
by Jay Bourke
The Fred Icke Handicap is a true classic: held on the coldest and one of the shortest days of the year, a solid berg on each of 3 laps of the 44km course, fast narrow farm roads – excited kelpies thrown in for free, and a technical uphill finish out the front of a historic pub. A tick in every box.
Scratch started with 18 riders, giving limit a 36min head start. Wise old heads in Stephen Fairless and Ash Baines told stories told stories of ‘back in the day’ that with less than 10 in scratch they averaged 43-44kmh because no one missed a turn. Said just loud enough that all took note, “As long as the young bucks don’t smash the bunch to pieces on the first climb, with 18 riders should get up.”
Cresting the climb for the first time we only lost 1 rider, no one missed a turn for that first lap and we average some 47kmh. Enough to catch the 3min gap to block in less than half a lap and more than half the gap to the front of the race.
The second lap wasn’t much slower, but with catching each proceeding bunch, it would get a bit messier: riders would go missing or the narrow road would be completely blocked by riders ahead meaning that it could take some time to fight your way to the bunch and reorganize the rotating echelon. The block head wind for the return section of the lap gave most of the now 70 strong peleton a free ride. It was at this time that I overheard Alex Morgan instruct his VIS teammate to prepare to light it up on the approaching climb at the start of the third and final lap.
Cresting the climb, a small bunch of only 8, had broken clear. It included Alex Morgan (VIS), Cam Bayly (search2retain), Brenton Jones (Torq), Jason Spencer (Budget Forklifts), Nathan Elloitt (Drapac), Ash Baines and myself, all from scratch. Even though I was trying to conserve my energy expenditure, this decisive surge was a minute at 500W. It was enough to bring the front of the race to less than 6minutes up the road. I thought this was the race. We picked up the tail wind and worked well together to solidify our break, stretching the gap out to some 45secs. But, somehow, and to my dismay, even though our break averaged no less than 60kmh for the 5km flowing, narrow backside of the loop, we were caught from behind by a charging group of 40 odd just as we turned back into the wind. If we had got around that corner, into the headwind with a gap I thought we would have been clear, but the chasing pack had timed their effort well. Then, within a matter of meters, the front markers were engulfed and with 25km the race was anyone’s.
What followed was a series of attacks with small groups using the wind and the edge of the road in an attempt to go clear. Nothing was getting more than 15m before being reeled back however. Then Alex Morgan (VIS) attacked. He actually didn’t go that hard, believe it or not. But it was his perfect timing that saw everyone look for someone else to initiate the chase. I thought 15km was too far to survive solo into a head wind. So did everyone else it seemed. In less than 15secs, Alex had 30m, he then looked under his arm, saw he had the gap, and then he really attacked! The manner in which he went from 30m to 150m away was impressive to say the least. Behind, riders tried to bridge solo, but with Sean Finning (VIS) following each move comfortably, each was short lived. With no organized chase, our average speed dropped. Alex was gone.
Such was the gap that Alex had, he enough time to straighten up and salute while crossing the line in record time. The race for 2nd was hectic to say the least. With 40 riders in with a sniff, each at varying degrees of cross-eyedness, there were some revolutionary moves being layed down in that final 5km. After a bit of a scare inside the final 1km, I sat up. Finning (VIS) lead the bunch kick home. Dave Sanders gave a nod of approval before piling the kids back in the van. Hard man award is split between Stephen Fairless who has top 10’ed every time he has raced the Fred Icke; and the S.A. boys who were driving the 6hr trip home after 140km of racing!
(2012) - Fred Icke Creswick Handicap
|Senior ‘Fred Icke’ Result|
|1st||Alexander Morgan*||Blackburn CC||SCR|
|2nd||Sean Finning||Castlemaine CC||SCR|
|3rd||Brenton Jones||Warragul CC||SCR|
|4th||Brett KIngston||Carnegie Caulfield CC||6.5 mins|
|5th||Jason Spencer||Blackburn CC||SCR|
|6th||Guy Green||Blackburn CC||14 mins|
|7th||Stephen Fairless||Shepparton CC||SCR|
|8th||Calum Middleton||Colac CC||6.5 mins|
|9th||Gerard Donnelly||Carnegie Caulfield CC||14 mins|
|10th||Fraser Northey||Sturt Holdfast Marion CC||SCR|
*Fastest Time: Alexander Morgan (2:58.26)(race record)
|Female ‘Fred Icke’ Placings|
|1st||Kate Finegan||Hunter District CC||28 mins|
|2nd||Miranda Griffiths||St Kilda CC||18 mins|
|3rd||Lucy Coldwell||St Kilda CC||22 mins|
|Junior ‘Fred Icke’ Result|
|1st||Nicholas White||Ballarat/Sebastopol CC||10 mins|
|2nd||Jack Bell||Camperdown CC||10 mins|
|3rd||Caiden Hull||Carnegie Caulfield CC||3 mins|
|4th||Sam Lane||Port Fairy CC||3 mins|
|5th||William Key||Ballarat/Sebastopol CC||3 mins|
|6th||Joshua Liston||Ballarat/Sebastopol CC||3 mins|
|7th||Joe Patrick||Warragul CC||6 mins|
|8th||Eddie Bell||Camperdown CC||10 mins|
|9th||Lucas Hamilton||Ararat CC||SCR|
|10th||Angus Lyons||Ballarat/Sebastopol CC||SCR|