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I am a broken man as I write this. Nearly 5hrs in 40 degree heat up massive hills at warp speed was probably what did it. I’m under no false illusions that I was actually racing the same race as many of those PRO riders, but I never turn down the chance to ride along side some of the best cyclists in the world. What other sport on Earth can a regular guy like me do that? What a privilege.
Before we even got 1km into the first lap a group of 10 broke away. Quite the ballsy move if you ask me. It was already 33 degrees and I think everyone was quite nervous about how the heat would affect the race.
The first lap in the National Championships always seems to be ridden at a decent tempo as you can tell everyone is a bit nervous. The second lap is when we all start to relax and everyone has a good chat and it settles into a comfortable pace. I asked Lappers (Darren Lapthorne) when Rapha was going to design a jersey with the green and gold bands on the arm to represent his Australian title in 2007 (Rapha has not taken to this idea up until now). Fortunately they’re going to design this onto his new 2010 jersey.
The pace continued at a reasonable tempo for a number of laps and the break away grew to almost 8 minutes. Since Travis Meyer (Garmin) and David Kemp (FlyV) were up the road their teams were obviously not going to be chasing. The responsibility to chase fell on HTC-Columbia’s shoulders as they didn’t have anyone up the road and were the next biggest team.
At approximately lap 11 or 12 the gap started looking very threatening and the big guns put the hammer down. The pace was beginning to get uncomfortable up the climb past the feedzone and then things started blowing apart up the steep part of the climb near the KOM. It was awesome having thousands of spectators cheering everyone on, cowbells clanking, water guns spraying, etc. I couldn’t help but laugh whenever I heard someone say “Go CT!”.
At this point over half the peloton had lost contact and I had managed to hang on by the skin of my teeth. The next time we passed the feedzone Matty Lloyd was driving the pace up front which blew the remaining pack to bits. I was part of the collateral damage and popped off the back. Small groups were forming and I knew that if I could get into one of these groups I’d have an easy last 4 laps to the finish. At very least I really wanted to finish.
Unfortunately as riders lost contact with their groups they headed straight off the course and no one wanted to continue to the finish. This meant that I had to ride alone for the final 4 laps. I kept waiting for a group to come up behind me but evidently I was in last place (kind of humiliating at the time).
The group at the front of the race had some serious chase groups breathing down their necks but they weren’t to be caught. The lead bunch had been split into a couple groups of 4. Meyer attacked on the steep part of the climb and was able to solo to the finish. David Kemp rolled across the finish line alone for second and Damien Turner coming in third. The rest of the 49 riders ahead of me came in small groups of 1’s, 2’s and 3’s.
Congrats to Meyer for a ride that we all knew he was capable of. He’ll be a great guy to represent the Road championship jerseys in Europe. I also want to congratulate David Kemp for such a spectacular ride. I didn’t doubt for a moment that he could do so well in this race. I’m secretly wishing that Kempy had won for a couple reasons. First of all Kempy is a great guy and a talented rider. Second of all, I think it would have been great for FlyV in achieving their Pro Continental status and ProTour ambitions (I know I’m kinda eating my words from last Friday).
The big surprise of the day was Damien Turner getting third place. Damien is a really great guy as well and is no different than you or me. He’s in his mid thirties and has to go to work just like the rest of us in the morning. Inspiring to see how things can pan out if you have the guts to ride like he does.
One great TIP that I learned for racing in the hot weather was this: Many of the riders filled woman’s stockings with ice and wrapped them around their necks. The ice would melt and drip down their bodies and keep them cool. You’ll be able to see this in some of the photos below.
Special thanks to James Broadway and Leigh Schilling for their spectacular photos. I’m going to bed!
It’s showtime! Photo James Broadway
Tymmys clowning around – Photo James Broadway
Damien Turner smashing those KOM’s – photo James Broadway
Lappers (Darren Lapthorn) without his green/gold armband. Get on it Rapha! Photo James Broadway
Andy Nalor (O2 Racing) had a great ride today. Matt Wilson (Garmin) behind him is looking strong this year. Glad to see him get back on a ProTour team. Photo James Broadway
Damien driving the pace in the lead group – again! Photo James Broadway
Craig Johnson attempts to bridge to the leaders. Photo James Broadway
Cookie gets 8th. I’m liking the new Saxo Bank kit. Photo James Broadway
When are you gonna win one of these Mick??? How many more teammates do you need? Photo James Broadway
Lloyd trained hard for this race and it didn’t pan out for him. He managed to decimate the bunch trying though! Photo James Broadway
Crowie – and Aussie cycling legend making some noise! Photo James Broadway
Lappers and the bunch getting their feed. I drank 15 bottles of water today and that wasn’t enough. Photo Leigh Schilling
Here you can see the ice filled stockings Kempy and Meyer used to keep cool. Personally I prefer Kempy’s black lace stockings. Much more seductive than the brown skin toned stockings that Meyer sports. Photo Leigh Schilling
William Clarke Dylan Newell dumping his bottle of water all over his is also an effective cooling method. Photo Leigh Schilling
Drew Ginn makes us hurt up the climb. If you haven’t been following Drew’s ITT preparation for the Nationals you’ve missed out. I really enjoyed his blog post where he writes about his mixed emotions after his 6th place last week. Very interesting insights from a man who is now at the top of his second sporting endeavor. Read it here. Photo Leigh Schilling
Tymmsy and I at the pointy end of the bunch (letting everyone catch a breather) – Photo James Broadway.
Damien Turner with a smile from ear to ear as he crosses the finish line in 3rd – Photo James Broadway
Travis Meyer. What a talent! Photo James Broadway
TIP: Don’t let your partner out of site when Mooksy is around – Photo TommyP
I was praying for snow on the 15th lap. Photo TommyP
Cool video taken by Aaron Upson. Thanks for sharing Aaron!