The 2014 Sam Miranda weekend was everything we expected, and more. Marty and the team continue to set the benchmark for running successful road cycling events here in Victoria.
Everything I wrote about back in 2012 after taking part in the first 'Strade Nero' race still holds true two years later, although the VRS events are now just the support races to the higher calibre Women's NRS tour - Tour of the King Valley.
Von had been invited to race in the #ToKV with the Building Champions Squad for the weekend, so I tagged along for some racing on the Friday and to help out BCS for the following days.
Dal Zotto Time Trial
One of the best TT courses I've ridden this year. Good roads, low traffic, and some demanding sections on the way out to the turnaround. I rolled in 8 seconds down on Brodie Talbot (Budget Forklifts) taking 2nd place.
|Warming up.. and chugging Red Bull at 8:30am on a Friday.|
I'd ridden this TT a lot better than last weekend at the CV Masters TT championships. Having corrected those mistakes I was more than happy with the ride.
|I made a new friend in the car park. |
(Thanks to Jess Lane for the pic)
Rural City of Wangaratta Criterium
The legs were still good after the TT, so I lined up for the 3.6km cheese-grater loose-gravel crit. When I think of aerodrome, I think of glass smooth tarmac (and Tom Cruise on a motorbike fist pumping a fighter jet)... This was anything but.
|*Not Wangaratta airport.|
A local lad running a +25 degree stem took it to the small field of 21 from the gun. He was either so intimidated by the NRS team representation in the race that he didn't want to ride in the bunch, or he had huge balls. I'd like to think it was balls. Solid move. We pulled him back in the first km.
This set the tempo, so to speak, for the rest of the race. Up against the four or five NRS teams and a few leg-fresh individuals I wasn't there to win, so I went to the front and did my own thing, which was to drive it and chase everything. I wasn't there working for anyone, no team mates, #NFG, it was old school 2006 crit style racing. If a break went, I wanted to be in it. If I wasn't in it, I chased. If there was nothing going on, I drove.
|Jo Upton Photography - Full Crit Album Link|
Talking to the Saint Cloud bros after the race they mentioned the 'hate turns' I was pulling all day. They had to explain to me what that meant. I like it. I wasn't actually hating on anyone when I was pulling them in. ok, maybe I was a little.
All eyes were on Talbot. I was expecting him and a few others to whack it off the front at any stage and leave most of us behind. It didn't happen. It came down to a bunch kick which I rolled in for ST.
What a blast! Not often I roll around with the young snappers of the NRS in a race. Excellent TT training pulling them back all day.
The women were soon on course and into Stage 2 of the #ToKV. I switched to team helper mode for the rest of the weekend.
Back to Stage 1 - The ITT. This is a national level event. TT bikes were being checked and regulations were being enforced. How bike sponsored teams were having multiple bikes turned away was beyond me. In the end the entire GC for this four stage tour came down to TT time. The ramifications of having bikes fail UCI regulation checks was more than just sponsor awkwardness. If officials had applied the 20% time cut, having to ride a road bike could have meant an OTL result and no start on stage 2.
I'd given the BCS team a full run-down on the TT course and how to ride it. To their credit, they took in the info and asked the right questions. I spent a few minutes with each of them looking at their bike setup and position. The next day they all gave it a red-hot go and complained of having sore necks from getting so aero. Excellent, they'd done it right. (and they'd know what to work on for upcoming TTs) :)
For stages 3 & 4 I was driving the BCS team car in the support convoy. It was a pretty cruisy task. We had no wheel changes and nobody needed food or water. The driving was nothing like being in the promo convoy at the Tour Down Under, that is white knuckle fun (in someone else's car!). I'll be putting 'experienced cycling driver' on my resume, if anyone wants a driver for hire - I'm there.
|The Strade Nero.... where the local car wash was the winner!|
Seeing how the BCS women operate gave me a better appreciation of what it takes to reach the start line in a NRS event. Their team framework is what the women's NRS needs to keep growing. Their team meetings, race plans, and post race briefings all provide the riders with the skill sets to take them onto bigger and better things. Team rider Lauretta Hanson's story is proof (she's now riding in the USA).
Team BCS are exactly what their name states, building champions. They're not at the same level in regard to support or funding as Team Holden, Suzuki, or Liv/Giant. I'll be honest and say they're not at the same level as the top teams who are fighting it out for lead-out train bunch-kick stage wins or NRS series wins. That isn't what they're about. They are a pathway into teams at the pointy end. Most importantly, they're providing opportunity for women to enjoy the sport of cycling.
Follow the team here:
BCS Twitter: @bcs_women
BCS Web: Link
BCS Facebook: Link