Monday, October 05, 2009

Tour of Tassie- Day 2

Day Two.
Stage 3- Burnie Criterium
The course: 1.3km. About 750m climb and then a 550m steep descent, all on a very narrow road. Needless to say another hard stage was upon us. The driver of the bike trailer and half our team overshot the school that the crit circuit was in so we got our bikes half an hour before the start. Very keen to squeeze in a good warm up, when I lined up I was pretty close to the rear of the field. Immediately after the gun went off, the familiar fast pace I’ve come to expect was set by the leaders. Contrary to popular belief, cycling races generally require very little strategy or thought. I know what you’re thinking and you’re probably right, this does suit me! Basically, you need to try to avoid getting dropped. At my current fitness, this means pain from the get-go. If the rider in front of you is dropping the wheel, you overtake him. If you can, you get near the front to avoid too much stop starting around the corners. That’s pretty much it. If you succeed in that then you’re doing well.
People were getting shelled right from the start and since I was riding from very near the back this meant a lot of sprinting around people to stay on. I did my very best to gain positions but this could only really be achieved to any significant effect by climbing faster than the guys in front to pass them. If I was the strongest I could have got away with this but unfortunately I wasn’t. It eventually took its toll and following a few quick laps by the leaders I went off the back. I rolled around for a few laps until I saw two search2retain team mates come up behind, including our highest GC rider, Steve Robb. Brilliant! I’ve seen this type of thing in the tour. The domestique paces the leader for as long as he can to get him back into the lead bunch. I prepared myself for some tough laps but after getting a little too excited only managed one lap before I blew again. With heaps of laps to go I watched Steve and Alex Ray (team mate) lap around alone and realised I would’ve been much more helpful to go a little less hard and stick it out with them. Whoops. In the end they got lapped with only about 5 laps to go. It wasn’t all bad for search2retain with other GC hope Ben Dyball up in the lead bunch holding his own until the finish. A disappointing criterium personally and for the team but with Ben up there it was still an acceptable result.

This stage looked harder than stage two where I was put into a lot of pain from the start so I was prepared for a tough one. In the first few km’s I moved myself close to the front. Blowing from the front is better than blowing from the back. And then the rain started to come down. As I learned in Gippsland, this is good news for the mountain bikers! We had a bit of a descent so I used it to get to front of the pack, no energy required! I went past the fly V train on the front of the pack and attacked off the front. Shortly after I heard some one shouting my name from behind and saw Drapac Porsche rider Stuart Shaw trying to bridge the gap. I eased up and started working with him to catch the only other rider up the road, Nick Aitken. But then the road sharply pitched upwards and I soon after I realised the bunch was sure to catch me so I climbed at a comfortable tempo until I was reeled in. After that I was doing my best to stay on the lead group and got dropped slightly a few times but was able to get back on. Rolling towards the finish with a 1km to go I found myself quite close to the front. Looking back, I should have found a sprinters wheel and followed but instead I just kind of sat near the front in the middle with no easy way out for a sprint. I guess I was still in defence mode and my main objectives were still to avoid getting dropped rather than going for it in the sprint. After finishing in 18th, not too far from the winner and feeling pretty good I found myself wondering why I didn’t give it a good crack? Next time. Was I finding my legs or were the leaders just tired from completing the gruelling criterium that morning? Time will tell!


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