Monday, September 07, 2009

Tour de Timor

Stage 1

Today’s stage was the longest of the tour. From the Opening ceremony in Dili, the riders eagerly lined up in front of the presidential palace anticipating a fast start and a memorial first 9kms through the heart of Dili to the top of the first K.O.M. The crowd was phenomenal, in some areas the east Timorese were 10 deep and screaming at the top of their lungs for all riders but especially their countrymen. For Timor Leste this was as big as Sydney hosting the Olympics in 2000, this was the federated countries first international sporting event.

The stage was long, and true to Timor form the weather was brutally hot. A reasonably flat stage with 2 climbs for King of the Mountain points and one long steady climb at the end before flattening out and descending into the Bacua finish line, 129kms all up.

Our team, didn’t really have any tactics planned for this stage, all we knew was that the strongest finisher of the stage would be supported as our GC rider for the rest of the tour... hopefully.

On the first K.O.M the cream started to rise to the top, and upon closing in on the KOM flag, I miss interpreted a tap on the leg from Pete and made my move for the first KOM, chased by Praties, I managed to get their and secure the first 10 points.
As I flew down the other side of the hill, I lapsed concentration and managed to nearly destroy my rear Fulcrum rim on a pothole at warp speed. By the time I really started to worry about my wheel we were at the bottom of the hill, on the flats, maybe 14kms into the stage, I thought I had a flat, slow leak that bulged my tyre. I was worried I'd be left behind by the peleton if I stopped in my tracks to fix it, so I sprinted ahead and endeavoured to get enough of a gap to fix it without loosing too much time to the main group. While I was out in front Brendon Brooks bridged the gap and was keen for a break away, he assured me that my wheel was only buckled and at that we broke from the bunch almost permanently.

We knew it was going to be a suffer fest to stay away, on MTBs for 120kms in the Timor heat, but I really wanted the next K.O.M points and I set myself a goal to get max KOM points before being caught. I was defiantly the driving force for the stage, putting in long turns, time trialing it to the next KOM, fortunately enough I was able to get across the KOM line in 1st again with another 10 points and successfully securing the polka-doted jersey for the next stage.

My effort towards the end of the stage died dramatically, we had missed all feed stations and by the time the final hill came up, I was pretty smashed. We were only caught on the final hill having been away for 110kms.

With me up the road Neil and Pete were able to sit in the chase group and not do any work, this turned out to be the master stroke and gave the two of them enough play to make a successful attack on the final climb and Neil was able to take out the stage and be the first to wear the Yellow.

Team Mad dogs had taken both the Yellow and the Polka dotted jersey on the First stage by both smart, lucky and strong riding.

It was going to be a good tour!



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