As the Peloton rolls out of Bright I keep close to the front of the huge field to try and stay out of trouble. After the 1st sprint a few riders dribble off the front and are forming a break. This starts to send alarm bells as I remember back to an earlier race in the year where this happened and the group was big enough for it to stay away for the remainder of the race. I dig and get across with the 10 or so riders. They are not organised and we a not long after pulled back in.
As we roll into Ovens there is a rider down in a big way from one of the Grades ahead of us. At the turn off two (?) riders use the slowing of the Peloton to break away. No one seems interested in working turns to pull them back. Closer to Rosewhite Gap, the 1st climb (Cat 2) of the day, I try to ‘encourage’ the Peloton to work turns unsuccessfully. They are so disinterested that I find myself drift off the front even though I’m only doing 35km\h. Shortly I’m joined by Stuart Payne and we work steady turns till the Peloton wakes up and gathers us up just before the 1st climb.
At some point on the climb there is the sound of a crash behind. Not sure who or how many were affected. With two already up the road, there was only one more spot for KOM points. I have a half assed attempt, not wanting to burn any matches in the process, and nothing comes of it.
Along the Kiewa Valley Hwy the two riders are finally gathered up, then there’s the Tawonga Sprint and not long after David Evans is off the front and getting a gap. Through others trying to join him and the Peloton not having a bar of it, D.E is back with the Peloton before the Tawonga Gap climb starts.
From the base the pace set by Stuart Morgan feels hot and by the half way mark I let it go wanting to save some matches. I find myself working with Stuart Payne again and we work the top half with another rider. I’m descending quicker that S.P, but we are back together with a handful of others and we work turns to the line. We’re over the line around 2 mins down.
After some wading in the pool where we are staying, it time to try and wake the legs up for the Time Trial. I’m off at 17:10:30. I decide to drive down and warm up on the rollers. I get that psyched before leaving that I leave behind my bag with shoes, helmet and other every important items… Whoops! I don’t realise until I go to setup on the rollers. I ring base camp and Von is there out the front for the ‘splash and dash’ pickup. I get back and still have enough time to get a warm up in on the rollers.
I’m using a Skater\BMX style helmet to try and get every cost effective aero advantage that I can. I need it! So the officials at the start house want to check it for the Australian Standards Sticker, which it has.
I’ve been reading a bit about track pursuit lately and there is a lot of talk about ‘pacing’ and ‘floating’ the 2nd lap then ramping your effort up. So I use the slight down at the start of the course to get the bike up to speed, ‘float’ for the remaining 50 metres or so over the bridge then ramp it up over the false flat till I top out over the 1st hill nicely in my HR red zone and keep it there for most of the 23mins & 40secs it takes me to get back to the line.
Then it back to the pool for more ‘arhhhhh’.
Thankfully enough riders are up the road to take the intermediate sprints on the way to the base of the climb. And more thanks to Team 6am-ers who towed the Peloton to the base of the climb making it a swift, easy warm up.
I was interested in seeing who had what left after day one so by the road block gate just out of Harrietville I was on the front setting my version of a hard tempo that I knew I could sustain from training rides I’d done prior to the race. A couple of k’s in I take the foot off and D.E comes through from 2nd wheel. He drops the pace slightly and after a while I come around from 2nd wheel and bring the pace back up to where I had it before. Then another rider comes past and wants to do the same pace out front so I hold 2nd wheel and it stays like this till The Meg. No attacks on The Meg, just the same sold pace with the order of riders swapping around a bit with the big hitters keen to be closer to the front. Shortly after J.B throws in a few attacks. A rider close to me asks out aloud “what the fuck was that for?!” I decide to reply with “Just a bit of leg softening”. At this point the group is small enough and moving fast enough for me to sit back a couple of wheels from the front and wait at see. The 1st false flat comes up and a few surges happen but are all covered. J.B gets sneaky and tries to slip away with passing traffic. He’s reeled back in.
We are getting close the Buckland’s Gap, where the Toll Gate is in winter. A sparrow-esk rider sets flight from the group. “humm!? I ain’t seen this guy all day, could be trying to set flight?” So I drift to the front and up the pace waiting to see just how hard he digs up the steep. He digs and this sets off the GC frenzy. Sparrow man looks like he’s be swiped by a cat as he fades a lot sooner than I’d expected as the GC frenzy gathers a fierce pace… well for me it was. It’s sink or swim time as I try to stay in contact. The attacking surges come one after another all the way up this 1st rise. Fucked if I can stay in contact, it’s another gear that I just haven’t got. I take myself over into boiling point and cook the engine and limp over onto the false flat. Then it’s down into the chain bay before CRB Hill. I can see the group amongst B grade riders and the distance looks do-able. Half way up CRB I over cook again. Into the mist and along the Blowhard section I’m joined by S.P again and we work this section together. Somewhere around here I here Shane M yell “WORNES!!... If I beat you up Hotham you are walking home!” My lights are out now and he passes me. S.P and I work Diamantina spur together and top out. It’s only fitting that we cross the line together and we do, even though it didn’t show that way in the official results!?
I search out the big hitters and thank them for an awesome race, coz fuck it was! Then it down to Harrietville for Coffee, food and tales from the Peloton.
Race results can be found here;