Monday, 28 April 2014

2014 Tour of the South West - Masters A

The 2013 ToSW wasn't the smoothest event on the calendar last year. To their credit, Cycling Victoria and the Warrnambool City Council were quick to respond to rider feedback and stepped things up for 2014. The most notable was the appointment of Marty Tobin as an experienced Race Director, an excellent move. The major hiccups from last year were addressed and despite the damp start on Saturday morning, it was a successful weekend down on the coast.

Stage 1 - Road Race - 85km

Nothing much to report here from my perspective. I had no team, no GC aspirations, and wanted to be as fresh as possible for the Stage 2 TT. Watching the teams do their thing and generally keeping out of trouble passed the time. A few teams missed the break and went to the front, excellent. Some teams kept knocking into each other and almost bringing down the bunch, not excellent.

(Most of) the bunch just rolled across the line and were surprised that the time gap to the leaders was only 4 minutes. Given how slow our last lap was, I'd assumed we were well over 10 minutes down on GC.

An observation - It appears the loophole in the CV grading system is that being in a VRS team is a golden ticket straight to MMAS A Grade, bypassing the points/qualification process. The result is a mixed field of riders and level of experience in MMAS A.....

A few incidents that kept us on our toes, and unfortunately one rider in hospital. Riders sprinting the grupetto for 17th place and time gaps when we're 4 minutes down doesn't earn any respect. They'll get 17th place and the respect of the bunch if they just go to the front for the last few km. Things we all learn making our way up though the grades....

Tap tap. Tap tap tap.
Photo (c)

Anyhows... It was back to the car for lunch and to get the TT bike ready. Last year I went back to the car to find Von's broken bike and her in hospital. This year she (and her bike) were unbroken after Stage 1. It was already a good day.

Stage 2 - ITT 12.7km.

I've never been a fan of the "time trial specialist" label. I'm just a bike racer who likes to obsess over controllable details, and all of the uncontrollable ones too.

After 100s of TTs, I'd finally trusted that a pacing strategy would work. Knowing the theory is one thing, putting it into practice when you're racing the clock is another.

The course was fast. 55km/h for the first 5km to the right hand corner. The rolling hills back into the wind were also over and done with in no time at all.

Photo (c)
Photo (c)
Photo (c)
The final km into the wind was @470W, way too much left in the tank, but a lot better than coming to a grinding halt into that block headwind.

Official time of 15:53. A few seconds faster than last year, a few watts more, and the Shiv TT rig I'd built up only last Tuesday was flawless.

I spent the rest of the afternoon warming down on the ergo, continually hitting refresh on the result website. I had the MMASA fastest time, giving me the stage win. Big John Cain (Giant Celtic) was in 2nd and an in-form and now in yellow, Versteege (Zoom Video) in 3rd. A bonus was that Elite A didn't break the 16min mark, so I'd set fastest time of the day. And I checked the weather stats for wind changes when they were TTing, nope, they had the same conditions! Awesome.

Stage 3 - Warrnambool Cemetery Criterium. 40mins + 2 laps.

1.2km course with a killer 200m 6.5% hill every lap. I was 10th on GC after the TT, still minutes down, so GC wasn't a concern. The GC teams should control the race and time bonuses, I had nothing to lose. Game on from the gun.

I kept on the attack all race, trying to get a break established or chasing those who didn't take me with them. The boys from Total Rush were keen to get away with me, but nothing was sticking. I was happy to see David 'Steggles' Sturt (The Hurt Box) go solo but he was soon closed down as the pace was red hot up the hill every lap.

At the 15 minute mark I was cooked. 350/428NP, waiting for the bunch to kick away up the road at any moment. Getting a few seconds rest on the back straight was all I needed to keep chipping away at the hill and pushing for a breakaway.

At 35 minutes the lead group sat up on the back straight. I rolled though to the front, still expecting to be swamped at any moment, it was the inevitable conclusion to my race. I'd mentally pulled the ripcord and was running through scenarios of how I'd try to keep in contact with the rear of the 24 or so riders left. After all, I was a TT specialist doing hill sprints.

The number of spectators on the barriers was growing each lap, so it wasn't long to go. My Facebook check-in before the race at the cemetery said, "Go hard or die trying", and I wasn't dead yet.

Typically this is the point in the race where I'd say "the shit went down"... but it was going down all race... so I guess at the 40 minute mark when I bridged across to Steggles and we opened a gap from the chasing bunch, the shit going down was now even more relentless, and about to get worse!

Photo (c)

Crossing the line with two laps to go we had a good 6 sec gap on the chasers. On the bell lap Lee Burchell (Bike Gallery) had made it across solo. There were now three of us holding the 6 second gap at the top of the hill. After his solo bridge to us, and with balls bigger than those in Rundle Mall, Burchell drove the back straight into the final corner to ensure we kept clear. I was 2nd wheel, Steggles in 3rd.

Burchell took the final corner first and opened up his sprint, I went right, Steggles left. I was still in disbelief at the position I was in.... surely I'm not going to..... a few kicks later I was over that line first. I let out a "FUCK YEAH" in true disbelief. I quickly apologised to the nearest spectators I'd stopped in front of, not before the commissaire hit me with a $100 fine for language. hah!

Photo (c)

Winning a TT is more of a relief than anything. Winning the crit was an emotion that I haven't had for a long time at a bike race - and one I won't forget for a while. FUCK YEAH!

Best $100 I've ever spent.

Full results:

Jo Upton Photography:

Peloton Cafe Photos:


Colin Rourke said...

Great race Shane & your time in the TT was outstanding ,I enjoy your blog reports keep up the good work ! Fuck Yea ��

Adam Versteege said...

Great blog Shane. We've got some pics of a great hurt face going up that climb in the crit, but it paid off for you. Flawless riding definitely brought its rewards!

Phil Cavaleri said...

Fantastic result Shane you are an inspiration to all.

Danny Boy said...

Congrats Shane! absolutely smashed the TT and crit, nice write up to :-)