This is only the second event in the Pro Classic Series and it seems like ages since the Tour De Worcester. The weather played ball after threatening rain all week and the day dawned sunny and clear with very little wind. Today’s race was set to be a fast flat sprint 85km and hardly any climbs, well just one bump. The course was changed from last year so there were some surprises in store.
The team got up early and we drove round to the finish to check out the inevitable sprint zone, wide and open, slightly downhill, I should like this. we didn’t however check out the lead up to the circle and final turn, and this proved crucial in the end. The roads on the west coast are rough, so I had my front at only 8 bar and the rear at 9 for a bit more comfort.
The start was a neutral zone for about 1.5km through the suburbs and then as we turned into the west coast road the racing began. Daiken took the early initiative and each member took turns jumping off the front. I had Christo and Hashiem covering moves early on, and they kept up the damage control well. No-one escaped and the attacks died down. The west coast road is long and open and it seemed nobody was too interested in doing anything spectacular before the “climb” at around the 40km mark. The progress was slow and we rolled along chatting and laughing.
Shortly before the climb i felt my legs were a bit cold and decided to warm up a bit so I don’t get caught out when the gradient changes. I picked a nice long slight downhill and jumped off the front. No one really gave chase, maybe a slight acceleration but they didn’t take me seriously and I just peddled hard for about a minute and then relaxed again. One or two riders thought this would be a move to get a head start on the hill and tried to follow but were disappointed when they got to my wheel and I wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry.
Soon afterwards we turned right and faced the climb, MTN were positioned well and only a slight surge came from Aurecon, Daiken countered and AT followed. We kept them in check and the bunch rolled over the initial steep section fairly intact. The top section was a long false flat, the slight uphill made going slow but I used the opportunity to attack. Luke was in the same mood and we took turns. Unfortunately nothing stuck. A few moves all tried one after the other and no-one succeeded. I even jumped off with Clive and we had a gap but he gave in and I sat up after that too. Through the twists and turns of the Atlantis town section we tried a few more attacks. This only served to elongate the bunch, only to concertina again when the attempted escapes gave in. Once we got back on the west coast road and headed for home the moves off the front stopped and a steady tempo set in.
I sat in the bunch and rested as much as I could. We turned into the beach road nearing the finish, a nice smooth tar was like glass compared to the gravel-esque feel of the west coast and the bunch showed their appreciation by upping the pace a few knots. A move came off the front when a lone rider escaped but was paid his due and not given more than 100m as he is the WPTT champion and could not be given too much freedom. Daiken kept him within range as they were keen for a sprint.
The Finish came up too quickly. I rolled around the outside through the left turn into the finish straight, I wanted a good position near the front of the bunch and I quickly found myself in third spot. Heimer and Craig had accelerated and i thought that was the ideal place to be, but the thoughts were quickly dispelled as the both of them sat up and came to a halt. I now found myself pop out in front and all of the sprinters were lined up on my wheel with 700m to go. Not ideal. I picked up the pace and changed gears in vain, Christo came round me and started a leadout but faded too early for me to get to the line. I went at 450m to go and knew it was too early. 7 riders came past me in the last 100m as I faded fast to 8th position. Consolation came in the form of Stuart Davies who had taken a shorter line up the right and was rewarded with Third place.
Stu’s bonus seconds along with mine keeps our team competition dreams alive and we have some work to do for the sprints if we want to beat the men in blue.