Great Doherty Tour '07 (Blackburn/Open) - 3 stage, points based tour. Now I'm M1, I raced the combined M1/2/3 category. The points were 5, 3, 2, 1 awarded to the top four place getters. I'm coming off the back of a long race at Mt William, and knew this tour and the stages well. I had finished this tour in 10th place A grade last year when the stage order was reversed.
Stage 1 - 1:20 ITT. I'd done 14:36 up here two weeks ago in the WFA Handicap and knew the average power I had to put out to match that. Since we drove to the start I could afford to dump all the extra weight I usually carry on my rides. It was a warm one, around 27 at the start. Off I shoot at 9:13 - holding the watts around 400 then settling back down to around 370-390W. 30 second starting intervals and I was last in M1/2/3. I had a 30 sec man and a minute man (John the Spin Doctor). I'd discussed with John at the start where I'd catch him if we both did the same times as two weeks ago, and that was spot on the money. But as I caught both John and my 30 second man, Mr 30 seconds was getting all sprinty on me. I was racing my PowerTap for a high average, he was racing me with surges and slow deaths. I pegged myself about 10m behind him after he had settled a little and drew next to him at the finish to make the time keepers job easier. 2m from the line he lunges for the 'win'... er.. dude? I hit my interval counter on the PowerTap and wasn't sure what time I'd done. Power was down a little and I wasn't sure if I was sub 15. We didn't hang around for the official timing so we drove home for some lunch and so I could check out my power data. 14:35 with 373W - A PB time, but I was 4% down on power from last time, not to worry, I was lighter so the power to weight was the same. This was enough to get me the win by 30 seconds, 5 points, and $85 cash. Tom Crebbin 2nd, and Steve Martin (Mr30sec) was 3rd.
Stage 2 - Death Valley 82kms (4 laps). I like this circuit, it has hills, and it has one nasty hill - 1km @ 9%. Talking to Tom Crebbin at the start he was honest with me and said he'd be watching me and hoping for a bunch sprint. After learning my lesson at Mt William about working on the front all day, it was time to start the tactics. The first lap was tame, 1/2 the course was wet and raining, lap 2 was much the same but hot and dry, not much happening, lap 3 I sat on the front of the 9%er hill and put out some bigger watts. We'd dumped two riders off the back but I think they caught back on by the time we passed the start finish line getting the bell for final lap. I had a quick chat to Steve Martin to see how he was feeling. I had told Tom my plans if the race was still intact on the final lap, I wanted to see if Steve would be a part of it. He didn't give me much, but after a few minutes of friendly chatting he told me that he wasn't in a good state and was cramping since km 20. I let him know what was about to unfold and that I'd feel bad if he was blown away during "the" attack. He said not to worry, he'd hang on or die trying, and went straight to the front setting a nice tempo. This strung us out and must have had a few on the back in trouble. As soon as we hit the climb I went. I went hard. I kept going. That hill had never been so flat. That hill had never been so short. Tom was on my wheel like glue, Steve on his. I made sure they got a good sit from the wind as I'd need them with me to cement this move to the line. Von was at the top of the climb in the feed zone. I had enough water so asked Tom or Steve if they needed a drink, Steve was in need - I yelled to Von "third wheel, guy in blue give him a drink, but NOBODY ELSE!". Steve grabbed the drink as we crested and I was making sure both him and Tom knew my intentions. The field had gone, not even in sight. Steve wanted top 3, I wanted top 3, Tom wanted the sprint. So I jumped on the front and drove the guys hard, again sitting up the road so they could get a nice sit. A few kms later Steve was hurting and wasn't able to pull a turn, he indicated that he'd be happy with third. No worries - I came through and took another monster turn. Yep - I can say monster because I have the data. 450-500W on the front making sure the move stuck. The legs were purring. About 5 kms from home Steve popped off the back and it was Tom and I. I kept on the power telling Tom his chances for the stage were damn good if we could keep away. Onto the highway and back into Yarra Glen it was ours, nobody in sight for a long way back. I was still driving the front, not as hard now though. Tom kept telling me he wanted the stage and would sprint me for it - I appreciated his honesty, rather than sneak out the win, he was very clear with his intentions. I was good with that, I'd just blown the race apart and was going to finish no lower than 2nd! At the top of the final crest about 800m to go I sat up and shook hands with Tom, thanking him for his turns. I lead out the entire 800m... I hit max watts with my first acceleration which Tom didn't respond to. 200m to go I kept the power down and kicked again at 100m. Position position position! I think Tom was caught off a little by the fire I had in my sprint, 20m from the line and still no sign of him - then he launches from my wheel, jutting out to my right and CLIP - pulls a pedal! I throw and take the win, Tom is upright but sitting on his top tube skiiing along on his cleat. From my recollection I rekkon I'd still have taken it by a wheel if he had of stayed clipped in. Maybe he left his launch a little late and he pushed sideways just that little too hard? A win is a win - 5 points and $110 in the pocket. Tomorrows crit will be interesting now, tactics all the way!
Stage 3 - Thomastown Crit. 35mins. Only 35? It was raining, it was wet, it was dark. Von and I sat in the car wondering if they were going to pull the plug. At 8:50am the announcement comes over the loudspeaker - "Get ready, we're racing today". Oh god. 35 mins in the wet with the risk of stacking three times per lap! Tom was on 6 points, I was on 10. The tour was mine to lose at this point. Tom had to take the win and I had to DNF or finish out of the top 4 for him to take the tour. Tom knew what my tactic for the crit would be, and showed total respect for how I rode it - stuck like glue to his wheel. If he came 1st, he'd tow me to 2nd place no worries, I backed my sprint. A few early attacks went, Tom had to pull them back - I sat on. Two guys went up the road and B grade split us off from them. We yo-yo'ed with B grade - I had to warn Tom about sitting on B grade a few times, I didn't want him getting disqualified for doing so. Into one of the corners two B graders came down and went for a nice long slide into the gutter, the grass, the footpath, then the fence (no major injuries reported). I had a few moments to think about my position in the field and what this race meant to my overall chances of GC. One touch of the brakes on the wet corners and it'd be over. Hitting a corner just 1/2 a km faster and sliding out, it'd be over. But for some reason it didn't feel like pressure at all, I was calm and feeling really good being there on the bike. I was locked to Tom's wheel that's all I needed to worry about, his experience and honesty as a racer is nothing short of professional, it was without doubt the safest wheel to sit on - and I was all over it like glue!
Our two break guys were stretching their gap, but after a 5mins they'd run out of steam and we were all back, minus a Spin Doctor who was performing the well known interpretive dance called "the reverse break" at this stage.
Steve Martin (currently 3rd in GC) threw in a number of attacks about 50m before, or 50m after corners. Tom was on him, I was still glued to his wheel. 3 to go and Tom was on the front and we shut down to 35km/h. 1 to go and Steve jumps, Tom follows, I'm all over him. 300m to go we were all on the long drag to the line. I had lots in the tank and was up for a stab at 3 from 3, so I smoked around the outside and hit the front - power power power - tour in the bag...where was Tom? Wizzzzz.. arh there he goes - taking the win by a wheel. Me 2nd - the rest behind. 3 points, $50, Overall GC for the tour was mine!
I had a quick chat to the owner of Great Doherty Industries after the presentations and thanked him for getting behind the sport. I'd race tours like this every weekend if I could! :)
So there we go - The best weekend on a bike I've had in a long while. Another feather in the cap, trophy for the shelf, and some great racing kms in the legs against some quality competitors. Now onto Bright - I haven't got enough "Jaywoo" style training in the legs to be aiming for GC there - but I'll give it a shot! I might have a rear disc for the TT and want to smash that stage into oblivion! In the mean time - I'm hitting the hills again this week. Yeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!