Tuesday, 27 May 2014

WCMCC Wandi Road Race - A Grade :: 25th May, 2014

After AP's win last week at the season opener at Herne Hill, the banter between combatants during the days to follow mounted the pressure on the team to try and back up the win with another which meant keeping the pressure on other teams preventing them from making an upset. We figured that anyone with a Unicorn-Specialized jersey would be marked. It would be up to us to wear down our opponents until one of us could get away from the field with relatively fresh legs. It would certainly be game on!

We also welcomed a new team member this week with Jamie Kirkwood making his first appearance in Unicorn-Specialized racing kit. Jamie is a welcome addition to the team and we look forward to some of the lumpier courses where Jamie can really come into his own and work with AP to dish out some sting up the climbs.

At Wandi, there was no guarantee that the weather would not play a part in this race with a good chance of rain but the wind would be the biggest factor with a steady westerly blowing across the course making a critical part of the course even more difficult. 35 riders lined up at the start this week and the first half lap was reasonably sedate and uneventful until we approached the end of the Bodeman Rd descent and the intersection to Lyon Rd. I managed to easily put a gap on the bunch which was the first tell-tale sign that the cross-wind over Lyon Rd would be playing a part in attacks being launched throughout the race.

As I had gapped the bunch on my own on the first lap, I wasn't overly interested in keeping it going and allowing the wind to wear me down so I eased up and allowed myself to be caught. I sat in around 5th or 6th wheel and concentrated on conserving my energy reserves for when they would be needed.

Given last week's efforts where we were keen to control the attempts to bridge over to our riders in the break, we were being suitably tagged this week but we tried to utilise this to our advantage and each of us attempted to break away and take a few other riders with us. We would also cover any other attempts to break by either shutting it down or attempting to work with other riders if it was considered a possible chance to stay away.

Attacks were coming pretty regularly which allowed us to wear down some of the stronger riders in the field but those that worked best still seemed to come as we turned into Lyon Rd. Bradeley Hall and Pat read this effect well and about mid way through the race, we organised for myself and Simon Verona (HCT) to be ready to launch a solid attack along with Brad and Pat. As expected, a good gap was formed but clearly having two Unicorn riders and two HCT riders up the road on their own was not going to be tolerated and the group sparked into a strong chase and we were caught again fairly quickly.

It was evident at this point that most riders were conceding to allowing the race to finish with a bunch sprint with only a few more attacks being launched during the last half of the race. Doug Stewart fired a shot over the Unicorn bow with a colourful appraisal of our team mascot and we happily entertained his words of encouragement. Matt Upton and Sam Smith instigated the strongest attack and they managed to get away from the group for a while, but like Doug, they were brought back without much trouble.

The consistent surging with attacks was certainly taking its toll on some riders and it was beginning to show. With one lap to come, another attempt was made to break and I went with it but by this time, fatigue was also playing a factor and we were brought back relatively easily which sparked a counter attack as we once again approached Lyon Rd (for the last time this time). AP was amongst this and a flurry of 8 riders or so managed to create and hold a gap to the finish.

From talking to AP after the race, he mentioned he was still feeling pretty strong at this stage and was keeping with the pace easily. He wasn't completely convinced that the others were feeling the same way so he sat in and watched for any movement.

By this stage, we were rounding the corner off Lyon Rd and into DeHaer Rd putting the wind to our back for the final time. The small rise at the start of the this road offered an opportunity for Brad to make a move to bridge over to the lead group and he did so solo with no-one else opting to go with him or, like me, were out of position and caught amongst the group.

As the descent levelled out, I had made my way to the outside of the group and launched an attempt to get over to the leaders also. I initially got away on my own but before long I noticed that Pete Hammond had ridden across to me and we worked together to close the final 100m or so. Unfortunately, it seemed we left our run just a little too late and as we closed with within 10m of the lead group, they wound up for their sprint finish and neither Pete nor I had the reserves left to close it.

The chase group were also hot on our heels by the time we put our noses toward the finish line and they consumed the two of us with a flurry of sprinting cyclists hell bent on getting the best possible place, although all the paying places had been filled. AP had managed to keep Chris Glasby at bay as the two of them made a last ditch launch for the line to keep clear from the others and took out his second win in a row.

I couldn't be more proud of the way the team performed on Sunday and it is certainly a blessing to be part of such a great team of cyclists. Each of us put in every effort we could to ensure that we neutralised the field and put our best man forward for the result. I don't think any of us (Pat, Jamie, Chris Roberts, AP, Craig or myself) had anything left in the tank by the end of the race and the win was a good result for all of us.

Many thanks to our supporters, Specialized Australia, Hall Cycle Training, Ride Advice, The Vic Hotel and all our valued sponsors.

Next weekend, we land in Kalgoorlie for the Goldfields Cyclassic. This will be my first attendance at this race and I'm more than looking forward to it. Hope to see you up there if you are heading up that way. It will be a great event.

See you out there.

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