Lane and I were surprised by the names and numbers in A Grade on the start line. Rhys Pollock (Drapac), Neil Van Der Ploeg & Cal Britten (Search2Retain), James Boal & Matt Clark (John West), along with a number of strong locals who's course knowledge would be put to good use. Von had to get home early for a Sunday night flight to France, so we'd only be doing the first three stages. Lane was in for the whole tour.
Stage 1: Road Race 57km.
Polite turns by everyone in the bunch (except one guy!) until the attacks started 13km in. This disrupted the tempo and Lane was soon up the road solo and swept up the first 10 second sprint bonus before the bunch knew it was there. As expected, the pace was on over the first climb of Taminick Gap (1.5km @7%). This split the field in two. Similar for lap 2 and the second ascent of Taminick Gap. This time a group of 4-5 went clear over the top leaving the rest of us chasing for the 10km to the finish line. We got within 13 seconds, close, but no cigar.
Stage 2: Individual Time Trial 14.7km.
First TT on the Shiv, I was looking forward to seeing how it went under pressure. The answer? Not bad! Power was exactly where I wanted it, pacing strategy nailed with the wind having picked up a little, and I scored the stage win over a similarly TT kitted-up Van Der Ploeg by 43seconds. Boal had a strong TT for 3rd at +53 seconds.
|Two 90deg turns and two U-turns (they're the easy ones to spot)|
Day 1 done. I didn't snatch any time bonuses but was 2nd on GC to Van Der Ploeg by 2 seconds. Lane was sitting in 4th (or 3rd discounting me) with Tully Lyster and Pollock within striking distance of only a few seconds. Both of these guys could snatch a place or two on GC with bonuses in the next two stages. A few of the other big names would needed a few minutes advantage Stage 3 to be in GC/podium contention.
Stage 3: Hillclimb 27km (3km KOM at end)
Since I wasn't there for Stage 4, the plan was to keep Lane with the lead guys to the bottom of the climb so he could go with the moves and hold onto his 3rd spot on GC. I was on the front of the bunch for the first 20 minutes setting the pace until the attacks started. Pollock was trying to get away, but everyone was pretty fresh not having hit the wind. Through town a few more moves went, still nothing was getting away. The attacks continued to the base of the climb, they'd kick away up the road, I had no chance of going with them but as the pace eased up I came though and kept setting the tempo. 3km from the KOM/finish a kick went that Lane was in... I was toasted. I watched them tick away up the climb and sat up, took a photo, put it up on Twitter, and rolled up to the top. You have to love multi-stage races, totally different tactics come into play. At the finish line just up the road Lane delivered! Coming in only a few seconds short of the stage winner and holding his 3rd on GC.
|Looks a lot like Stage 2 for the most of it....|
Stage 4: Kermesse 36km.
A 6km loop with two sprint bonuses and the final sprint worth 20seconds. Of all the stages Lane could have done with a team mate this was the one! We wished him all the best as we headed back to Melbourne. The poor bugger was on his own, but he had something to fight for! I was on the edge of my seat waiting for news of how he did.... a few hours later I got a quick update.... "I held onto it, the bunch all got same time". Podium! Hell yeah!
A Grade Final GC Top 10:
1. Neil Van Der Ploeg (Search3Retain) 3:18:05
2. James Boal (John West) 0:48
3. Stephen Lane (Kosdown) 1:38
4. Matt Clark (John West) 1:47
5. Rhys Pollock (Drapac) 1:58
6. Tully Lyster (Wang CC) 2:15
7. Jordan Stannus (Jones Cycles) 2:17
8. Matt Ross (CCCC) 2:18
9. James Pane (The Flying Mosquito) 3:33
10. Hugo Tolliday (Ballarat-Sebas) 3:34
|A Grade Extended Podium. Top 5.|
The NRS team riders put on a good show, but the stand outs were the U17/U19 riders there all mixing it up with the best. Keep an eye on the 'Flying Mosquito' James Pane over the coming season too, he was 3rd on the Stage 3 Hill Climb rolling in with a Drapac pro! Not bad! Results were posted soon after every stage, we were emailed the Day 1 results on Saturday night, and emailed a final results and wrap up on Sunday. For a little country club Wang CC are an impressive operation. The people behind the scenes up there are a credit to the club and cycling in general. We'll be back up there racing at any opportunity we get.
Full results across grades will be up on Wangaratta CC site or their Facebook Page.
Tony's C Grade report (he won GC!)
|The back of Tony's place. Best shadow ever! |
|Sunset on the way out to Tony's place.|
|Von getting into the fire cooked spuds! One of many magnificent meals we had on the weekend.|
|Fire toasted marshmallows - Good carbs!|
|What happens when you eat pasta over your coffee?|
|Ker-plunk! Caffeinated pasta! The secret to Stage 4 for Lane!|