Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Stage 1 Suntour

Jolly long time since I put finger to iPad keyboard but with the Suntour now underway for 2015 figured it was a jolly good time to get back into the blogging groove! The race kicked off yesterday in the sensational setting of downtown melbourne with a nice little 2km leg and lung opener prologue and was dully won by the big horse wilba Clarke. Don't think there would be a single rider in the race not happy to see wilba win such is his popularity of being such an all round champ of a bloke. He let me in on the secret of where he felt he could take a few seconds on such a tight event which really made me laugh. The start was a little technical with a drop of a stage in fed square and into a 180 degree u turn on tiles and cobbles. You then dropped 50m or so down to a sharp left hand off camber corner on the slippery tiled footpath before heading across the bridge. As you could imagine everyone took this a little cautious there as to ensure no early race crashes and this is where wilba spotted his chance. He said he saw everyone had gone easy so he just decided I'll go full gas and take some time and try and hang on! Easy as that! Yeah not really, yes he was 3 seconds up at halfway but to hold his advantage over the field on the final km was seriously impressive and showed that no guts no glory was rewarded so big hats off to wilba. With the win that put him in yellow for stage one out on the road today but sadly for wilba the jersey was basically ripped off him before he even got the chance to try and defend it thanks to mount Matherson!!

Today's stage start was a real beauty, 4km flat then a nasty 6km climb straight of the bat. As expected everyone was a little nervous about the start and the fight for prime position was quite fierce. The apprehensive peleton rolled through the first 4km very gingerly, everybody knowing what was coming and wanting to save there bullets. This week I am pretty honored to racing with the Aussie national team and we were all nicely lined up on the front ready for the battle ahead. Sure enough about halfway up the climb things started to heat up and the pace was lifted by the big favorites for the race in Orica greenedge. I was nicely placed and assumed that the were riding a nice pace to ensure they get there gun sprinter caleb ewan over the climb and put some pain into the rest of the sprinters for the bunch sprint. Oh how wrong I could be! As the pace continued to lift I started to feel an extreme amount of fatigue and thought gee this seems a little hard to soften up the sprinters and sure enough it was. I was on the rev limiter and didn't want to look back, figured I would just drift back and hopefully recover a bit and stay near the front over the top of the climb. Quickly I realized the move was no softener, well it was a softener alright, to blow the field to pieces. I was on my limit as only 15-20 guys In the race were not and they were now riding away from me! Obviously I have done bugger all racing work for a very long time but didn't think I would suffer like that, just 10km into the bike race I felt like I'd been riding for 200km already! I was getting put to the sword. I didn't panic as we had our 2 best climbers in the team in chris Hamilton and laughy morton in the front group so switch to the only option I had, go back to the next chase group and see if they ended up riding me back to the front group. I knew straight away however as they got around 30seconds on us over the top of the climb that would be the last we would see of them today.

With all the strongest guys up the road it's pretty unlikely anyone could pull them back even if they tried. Infact the only people capable of pulling them back would be if those exact 15guys somehow got cloned and put on the front to pull themselves back! Anyways we plummeted down off the other side of the mountain and I instantly knew I was in big trouble. Usually I'm fighting to be right at the front of the group when my legs are spinning along well but today I was retreating to the peleton for whatever shelter I could find. Why I felt that way I have no idea but for some reason I just really really suffered. It's not unusual for me to all out of sorts in the first days of a race I was exactly the same last year on day, was dropped but in that case had to chase it down as we had nobody in the front. Then 24hrs later I came to life and ended 2nd on the stage and 2nd on GC. To be brutally honest while it would have great being up the road to help out the laughy and chris today, there is no way I would have been a gc threat on archers seat this year, I'm simply not in the climbing shape to be up there so the result would have been the same, just could have delayed the inevitable for a few days! So a big gc result is not going to happen this year obviously now but I just hope that I wake up tomorrow feeling alot more spritely than I did today! also means your off the leash a little I guess and while the objectives will be to keep chris and laughy and well protected as possible for Sunday and the gc battle, we will also be looking to deliver our man of Steele Von Hoff to the line in the upcoming sprint stages. Gc might be gone for me but there will be plenty of things to keep me entertained over the next few days.

So on a day like today I can't really comment on what went on in the bike race as basically put, I wasn't really apart of it! It's basically a procession of the laughing group as they like to call it as we simply ride our way to the finish lime at a very leisurely pace and anxiously await the outcome of the stage results from the team cars. In today's case we were some 25minutes behind so the race result came around 14km from the finish which as we hadn't exactly gone slowly if you like, when strong men are going fast the quickly put a huge amount of real estate between themselves and the rolling procession which is the peleton. It's a great chance to catch up with buddies you only get to see at races and save your legs for the days ahead but in reality you ain't here to do either of those things, your here to race and to suffer and get the rush from the combination of this two things. I've fortunately always been in that breakaway taking that time when I have been at the Suntour so I can tell you first hand it's definitely more exciting when the shoe is on the other foot and your up the road racing! Anyways take the good with the bad I'm this sport and the good news is we had some talented rock spiders up the road so was a great day for the Aussie national team and plenty of more ash-felt between here and the finish of the race to get stuck into some racing.

Cjw


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