Saturday, 11 June 2011

Northern Combine 3 Day Tour 2011 - Day 1. Every E-Dog has his day.

Sunny skies, stiff wind, and a great showing of 40 top Northern Combine riders this season at the start line of A Grade today. 90kms around the Lancefield loop, a route with a few memorable sections we've all been dropped on at one point in our cycling careers. Dons Rd, the Newham pincher, Rochford long-drag, and the epic downhill and super-fast few kms back into town. Today was no different, each of those sections determined who'd be fighting out at the end.

A nervous bunch at the start, all tapered, all ready to race. Everyone had an idea of what the teams would do, the solo riders would be in a position to benefit from that if they jumped on the right moves. Easy pace for the first few kms until Kosmos Samaras (Kosdown) puts down the first attack of the tour. Nobody responds and Samaras is dangling 400m up the road for a while. Andy Christie (Lawson Homes) is allowed to jump across, and another rider almost made it before drifting back. Ross Muller (Brunswick) was also allowed a shot at reaching the break but was brought back to the bunch on the road toward Rochford when the pace picked up.

There was 50 seconds gap to the two leaders as we started lap 2. Samaras and Christie were still in sight. The guys from SoulDevotion had not made the break but Nick Bensley and their boys were keen to keep the breakaway in sight. And that's exactly what they did. With the help of Shannon Johnson (Bike'n'Bean) they kept picking up the pace to keep the break in sight for most of the race. SoulDevotion are the kind of guys I like racing with. All happy for a chat, understand tactics, all race hard. Great way to represent their team and sponsors.

On the final lap the break were out of sight with over a minute advantage. The pace dropped on the head/side wind section of the course, I'd have put all my money on Samaras and Christie taking 1-2 with the bunch rolling in a few minutes down. Unfortunately there is always one thing that 'easy racing' means, it'll be followed by all out HELL. Elliott and Bensely attacked up Dons Rd towards Newham. I latched onto the move, but the bunch was soon back together. This hurt a few legs and when Tim White (Hawthorn) and Cam Clamp (Hawthorn) attacked again from the Newham corner the bunch was stripped down to only 15-20 riders. The pace was kept high towards Rochford. We could now see Samras and Christie up the road and we were pulling them back. The chase bunch was hectic, all trying to pull turns, a few wheel chops in the wind, lots of suffering. Elliott attacked at the base of the Rochford and strung out the field. This is best defined as 'when the shit went down'. This involves a lot of suffering, drool, and hanging on to the move with everything you've got. Elliott and Gabe Carey (LSDsports) gained a 20m advantage on what was left of the chase bunch. Bensley putting in a monster turn before I got on the front, telling him to get on! Crank crank crank, still nothing gained on Elliott and Carey. I swung my elbow at Bensley, nop, he was in the hurt box so I kept my head down. Elliott is too dangerous to let go. Conor Murtagh (QuickCycle) ripped past us, I dug into the reserves and went with him. We made it across to Elliott and co at the KOM point. Spent, but looking back the bunch had exploded. The hammer was down back into town as we swept up Samaras and Christie. So this was it. Lead group of 7-8 riders, 4 km to go, bunch spread back up the road. Time gaps were showing!

Myself and Elliott had 1-2'ed the Hell of the West last weekend, and as I've said in that report, he's a good mate. And a bloody good rider. He proved this to me again when he hit our lead group with a solo move off the front, 2kms to go. With #1 on his back, surely they wouldn't let him go? The chase was on, but put a TTer off the front with a massive tail wind, they'll ride "with the power of 10 men" (thanks to Phil Liggett for that quote). The bunch hesitated for a few seconds and Elliott wasn't going to be caught. Into the final corner there wasn't much in it, but it was a race for 2nd, Christie had held on and contributed to the Elliott chase and was about to lead through the corner before it came up faster than I thought.... "Shit... Inside!" to let him know I was carrying more speed than I expected, and he let me though. If I didn't jump them now I'd be leading them out for a sprint, so I kicked early and TTed towards Elliott. Team workhorse, Luca Giacomin (Kosdown) was in the mix at the end but was pulling away from them for a comfortable 2nd a few seconds behind the well deserved win by Elliott.

Hard-men effort of the day goes to Samaras and Christie for battling it out for almost 80kms together. Elliott taking the win was all class today. Only one team mate to help him out, making 'the race defining move' by hitting the bunch up Rochford, then hitting them again for a solo win. Awesome.

Tomorrow morning - The Time Trial. Bring it!

A Grade Results (unofficial, I'll update these when posted)

1. Nathan Elliott (Search2Retain)
2. Shane Miller (Kosdown) +3 sec
3. Andy Christie (Lawson Homes)
4. Luca Giacomin (Kosdown)

Random Visual

The place we're staying is ace. Massive old house, lots of exploring to do, and recovery sessions with my friends.....


Gabriel said...

Nice run down Shane. For future reference LSDsport rider is Gabe Carey, same guy from last weekend...


GPLama said...

Thanks! Updated.