These past 4 days have been some of the most memorable in all my years of cycling. Riding with this caliber of PRO cyclists has been a fantastic experience and has given me a greater appreciation of how good some of these guys actually are. It’s also showcased some of our local club riders pushing themselves to higher levels like never before. It’s always interesting to see all the different types of courses and how they suit different riders’ strengths and abilities. It’s also inspiring to see how some of these top professionals are able to race every single one of these types of courses with complete dominance.
Yesterday was the last race of the series. We went for an easy ride around the 2010 World Championship course (much, much more on that later) first thing this morning and then headed to Williamstown for the race.
At our team meeting prior to the race our strategy was to get one of us in an early break. How do I say this?… Many of the other teams who were conspiring against a certain Rabobank cyclist told us that they’d control the group and let a break get away just as long as that certain cyclist wasn’t in it. You can read into that however you like. Sounded easy enough…
It didn’t quite work out like this (for us anyway). This circuit usually flows nicely but after about 35 minutes the peloton got split to pieces. A group of 4 got away (Baden Cooke, Greg Henderson, Chris Sutton and Cameron Jennings) and it stayed that way until the finish. Cooke and Henderson put on a great sprint for the crowd and Cooke took the win. Great to see Cookie get off to a strong start to his season with Saxobank. I think we’ll see Baden Cooke do some great things in cycling again now that he’s got some solid team infrastructure behind him. Cookie’s teammate Chris Sutton took the overall win which was great to see.
Like I said, I had the time of my life over the past 4 days. I would definitely do a few things differently if I were to do it again though. The explosive and highly intense efforts required for these races are not the same as what you’d use in road races or our typical fast flowing criteriums. I’d do some very specific training in the 3 weeks before the race series next time so that I was better prepared. This really hurt!
The most difficult part of racing at this level is holding onto your position. Some guys make it look effortless, however it was the most challenging thing for me. If you’re not making up 5 positions every lap, there will be 5 riders overtaking you. On these short courses you basically sprint out of a corner as hard as you can until you’re up to full speed, slow down into the next corner, and then punch it again. There’s very little space in-between corners for overtaking since everyone is going as hard as they can. The trick is to use the slight lulls in the pace to gain positions. Unfortunately this is also the time when you desperately need the rest! This is something I have yet to master. There’s no point in making up positions when the pack is going 55km/hr.
Now back to reality. But it’s not over yet. The Australian National Championships start today and continue on for the rest of the week. The ITT today, criteriums tomorrow, the U23 and Women’s RR on Saturday (where the forecast is 38 degrees!), and the Men’s RR on Sunday. Non stop cycling action! We’ll see you there.
photo by Simon Meagher
Photos below by James Broadway
Giancarlo Giusti – Melbourne Coffee Legend
The winning break away
Photos below by Leigh Schilling