6 July 2014

Ah, bike racing….. you can do everything right all day, then just mess it up at the end – my mistake yesterday I’m glad to say wasn’t as dramatic as Mark Cavendish at the Tour, but I had the chance of a state road race championship win and just got it so wrong in the last 300m…. At least I salvaged the final podium step – a repeat result from the last time I rode this championship three years ago.

This was actually the first road race of the year for both myself and teammate Lee, so I wasn’t sure how we would get on – being a bit out of the loop on who to watch. The field was relatively small, with 30-something starters in the 1/2 race. The course was out at Bend, featuring a downhill start, a rolling middle with two laps of a 25 mile circuit, then back on the rollers to the uphill finish. 85 miles and hot, my thermometer was reading in the 90s for most of the race.

I downed a bottle on the start line, then we rolled out. The first few miles were relatively calm, with a few probing attacks and little splits, but nothing stuck until an Airgas rider took off – I was almost on the wheel but the guy in front let it go and I couldn’t get around. He got a decent gap, but it would close down a lot when things sped up. Lee was pretty active at the front, following some moves and trying a couple of his own. I was watching and trying to figure out the combinations of riders and teams that was going to work. 20 miles in, a Rapha rider and a HCH rider attacked and it looked good to me so I jumped to join them. A Therapeutic guy quickly bridged and that was pretty much the combination of teams I was looking for. We did some good hard turns and had a decent gap, so put our heads down to keep going. It didn’t take too long to catch the Airgas rider, giving a leading group of five, all working well. I felt pretty confident that this would be the winning break, so started focusing on efficiency and nutrition – we had a long way to go yet.

We were told we were three minutes up, but then with about 30 miles to go, two riders suddenly joined us, with one immediately attacking – they were teammates from the Bend Hutch’s team, who did a very good job with that bridge! It took a while to get the seven of us working smoothly again, but we needed to as there were other chasers. I had finished the bottle in my back pocket and one from the bike by this point, and was really hoping to find someone in the feed zone to get an extra from. Unfortunately Paul had had a mechanical early in the race, so had dropped out – fortunately for me this meant he was in the feedzone and handed me up a nice cold bottle of water. Into the last 20 miles, and we were told there was a group just over a minute behind, which gave everyone a bit more motivation to keep working together. We got to the last turn, which put us into a headwind all the way to the finish – that was going to make a solo attack tricky…. There was unity for a while longer, then as the climb began, so did the tactical games. Just outside 1 km to go, I did a big seated acceleration, and got a gap. So I pushed on for a bit, then looked behind – Tim of Rapha just managed to bridge up but wasn’t able to pull through with much speed. Then Griffin (Airgas) and Ryan (Hutch’s) got across, making four at the front. I feel that up to this point I had done everything close to perfectly. I was feeling really good, not cramping. But then I totally misread the last half km (I have only raced this course once before, and that time I flatted at the end, so didn’t contest the finish). The road leveled out for the finishing 200m – I should have waited, and put the bike in the big chainring and been ready to sprint. But, not reading the road right, I did another seated acceleration which served only to set up the others for a good jump into the sprint. Leaving me floundering and only able to wonder where I might have finished if I had sprinted against them. I was pretty gutted to have finished fourth – then I realised that Griffin was on a temporary OBRA number and wasn’t eligible for the championship, so I managed to scrape a podium place :-

 

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