Coburg and Hawthorn both held their road champs at Lancefield on Saturday. As I was volunteering for the HCC road champs, I asked, and was given the nod by Coburg to join in their "open" race starting at 10am. JayWoo and I rocked up with the same bikes and in our "Team" kit, which was spotted by Tom McDonough who quickly warned me there was to be no collusion between me and JayWoo. Fair enough.. This was my first road race back after a my winter break (break being the collar bone, and the holiday) so I wasn't too stressed about the outcome, just as long as I had a good hit out.
Not much of a showing from Coburg six riders all up. JayWoo, Adrian Hansen (a top trackie who's been in Belgium racing), Tom McDonough, Luke McDonough, another vet C grader, and me. We rolled off the start and held a very sedate pace for the first few kms riding two abreast. JayWoo and I ended up on the front so I slipped behind his wheel so we at least looked like it was a race! JayWoo turned up the pace and we started rolling turns. Race on. From the get go it was obvious that Tom, Luke, and the Vet guy were not interested in being in the wind - at all. It was left to JayWoo, Hansen, and myself to roll turns. After a few kms I decided that when I was on the front, the rest of the field were simply getting a free ride in their own champs... so I made my way to the back and sat on. JayWoo and Hansen rolling turns and Tom in 3rd wheel always leaving the gap for them to fall back into 2nd wheel.
Left turn towards Newham the road angles up. Hansen was on the front, me on the back. I swing wide on the corner and accelerate onto Hansen's wheel to make sure he didn't get away. Luke McDonough was popped off the back not to be seen again. Riding into a head wind I was back rolling turns with the other two. Almost time for the hills! Over the first hill I waited for the attack at the crest. Nobody went. Up the next hill I sat on the front and tapped out a nice tempo at the start and kept on the gas. About 300m before the top I was maxing out, so I guessed everyone else was hurting too. I rotated to the back and attacked up the inside. I thought there was a chance I'd be let lose as I was HCC. Nup. Hansen was on my wheel, JayWoo was there too... and now we're hitting 70km/h on the downhill. I monster along the flat with the help of a side wind, flicking the left elbow for someone to pop past. Wosh, Hansen shoots onto the front with JayWoo in tow. I turn to see Tom dangling off the back and the Vet C racer long gone. Hansen and JayWoo keep the power on. At this point I've got the pack down to exactly who I thought would be fighting out the top 3. Perfect! I make sure Tom is far enough away before I get on the front and add any further assistance.
We roll turns for the next 10kms, cranking out some nice speed. Not at any stage of the race did I even look sideways at JayWoo to discuss tactics. We both new Hansen would have us in the sprint, so it would be a battle of the climbers for second! :) 15-20kms into our tea party of three, Tom rolls up next to us. WTF?! He's yelling/spitting something to me about "their" race and that I'm not to play any part in the last 5kms! I have a good laugh and ask if he got a tow back to us from the follow car. "NO" was the answer. Hansen turns around with a smile, "Yeeeah sure you didnt Tommy!". We all have a laugh at him and he calms down. I told them from Newham onwards I'd sit on the back (10kms to go) and it was all their race. Tom asks me to go back to the follow car and ask them if they'd sorted out the finish line. I drop back and have a chat to the driver.
*insert discussion about the finish etc...* then...
Me: "By the way, did you pull Tom back into the race?".
Driver: "What did he tell you?".
Me: "Yeah, he said he got a lift back on.".
Driver: "Heh, yeah, he got a little help".
Me: "fair enough.. *chuckle*" :)
I sprint back onto them and get a lift home on fourth wheel. The pace was off until we hit the bottom of the last rise. JayWoo attacks from the front. Hansen 2nd wheel, Tom holding on for his life. I sat around 5m behind watching proceedings. JayWoo was hitting this one hard and I was expecting Tom to pop. (I'd bet $20 Tom would have then asked me to tow him back up to them if that did happen!). It didn't. The three crested and I was still watching from 4th wheel. 70Km/h downhill JayWoo gives it another spurt from the front. He and Hansen open a gap on Tom by a few lengths for a few 100m, but it didn't last.
1km to go and Tom attacks up the inside. We all jump his wheel and are happy to see him finally on the front for once! Tom fades a little and drops to third wheel, waving me away to stay out of the sprint. I'm still hanging 5m back and playing no part. Hansen winds up in 53/12 and JayWoo is on him. ooooo!! Will 'Woo pull a rabbit out of the hat?!? Tom launches from 3rd wheel about 200m to go. Hansen responds and takes the win from Tom. JayWoo 3rd with soggy legs after all his work on the front and two attacks in the last 5kms.
I roll up next to Tom and make sure he isn't still out to kill me. "Tom, 2nd!, can't get any better than that when we're racing Hansen!". He's stoked that he'd out sprinted JayWoo, all is well. Hansen introduces himself to me as we're cooling down and we have a chin wag. I was stoked that a rider of his calibre acknowledged me/my riding.
I had a great day racing. I was happy to be strong enough on the bike at this point in my training to play a major role in the race (even though it was neutralised by the follow car!) :evil laugh: