Tour of Margaret River 2017: Where the professionals and amateurs share the road

by Andrew Amos


The Tour of Margaret River centred around the tiny Western Australian town of Nannup in Western Australia’s Margaret River region is no ordinary race. For a start, the key is not individual glory but getting your team to the top of the results table. Secondly, its a pro-am, where you’ll find some of the world’s top cyclists like Marianne Vos sharing the road with even the newest of amateur racers. To make the interaction even stronger, WorldTour cyclists like Vos, Annemiek van Vleuten and Luke Durbridge, are slotted into the amateur teams.

To see how the Tour of Margaret River unfolded, sit back and scroll through the photo gallery from three days of racing in the popular wine region.

Friday, Stage 1: Into the fire

On a hot day in Nannup, the teams started off with a 42 kilometre time trial. Many struggled to stay together in the heat along the undulating Mowen Road, with rider’s cycling computers registering temperatures of over 40°C. The first squad to start, the Veris Mens Development Team, set a mark that was tough to beat. They stopped the clock at 1h 04’29” with an average speed of 39.1 kilometres an hour. In the end, the only team that threatened to trump the time was the Midland Cycle Alpha Team but they failed to finish fast enough up the final 2.5 kilometre climb back into Nannup.

In the women’s, Holden Women’s Racing set out as the final team and never looked like falling behind. Ahead at every point, they set a time of 1h 08’08”. The squad – which included guest rider Emma Pooley – were over seven minutes ahead of the second placed team, The Leftovers.

Saturday, Stage 2: Finding form

Saturday’s stage was 50.8 kilometres from Nannup to Greenbushes, with a steep climb out of Nannup and a gradual climb into Greenbushes before a downhill sprint in the town centre.

In the women’s event, it was once again Holden dominating the rest of the field. Kimberley Wells led the attacked for the Australian outfit, just eight kilometres into the stage. After Wells was caught four kilometres later, team mate Lisen Hockings jumped off the front. With South Perth Rouleurs leading a strong chase, Holden guest rider Emma Pooley capitalised on the increased momentum in the bunch and bridged to Hockings.

On the final climb into Greenbushes, Grace Brown took off. Holden teammate Shannon Malseed followed shortly after, launching from the top of the climb with 500 metres to go. Emma Pooley got the win on the line, while Hockings finished with Pooley for second, Brown third 1’13” behind and Malseed fourth 2’44” back. “It was pretty hot out there today, and the final climb was brutal,” said Pooley, “but I’m just relieved that the day is done.”

In the men’s, Bradley Linfield – rated as one of Australia’s best junior prospects before being struck down by illness –  refound some form. Linfield took out Stage 2 on Saturday while his Melo Velo team also took out the stage win in the team’s classification to jump from sixth to first.

An early break got away just off the back of the first climb up the Brockman Highway. Linfield was one of the first riders on the move, and was joined by his compatriots. This group included Linfield, Brian Sing (Santic), Lewis McCrea (Midland Alpha), David Hind (Dome Coffees) and Michael Kent (Pedal Mafia). They quickly distanced the bunch, and the break was reduced to five just before the penultimate Kindalee Hill.

As the riders were rounding the final couple of kilometers up into Greenbushes, Linfield made his move. Coming into the final corner with 200 metres to go, there was daylight between him and the chasing four. Linfield had enough time to salute the Greenbushes crowd before taking his team’s first win of the week. “The boys have only been together for 2 weeks before this race, so any result is a good result,” Linfield said at the finish.

 

Sunday, Stage 3 & 4: A hilltop finish and a final time trial

Sunday’s double header saw the riders tackle a 71 kilometre stage into Balingup with a hilltop finish, before a return leg 42 kilometre team time trial to Nannup. Once again, a break got away early out towards Cundinup as the larger teams wanted to threaten Melo Velo. The peloton sat up, not willing to chase down the bunch with a 42km team time trial still to do on the day. The break including two of Linfield’s Melo Velo team mates Henry Morley and Tony Doherty, was thinned out on the road to Balingup by Matthew Champtaloup (Santic), pushing hard for points.

There were six leading riders at the base of the Mur du Hay: Kalma, Champtaloup, Morley, Doherty, Dome Coffees’ Jarrad Anderson and Veris’ Brett Stapleton. The group stormed up the early steeper slopes of the climb, dropping each rider one by one until it was only Champtaloup and Kalma. Rounding the final corner with 100 metres to go, Kalma launched off ahead of Champtaloup and took the win on the Queen stage of the race. However, with Morley and Doherty getting third and fourth respectively, Melo Velo extended their points lead over the rest of the teams heading into the final team time trial.

For the women, an early crash in Cundinup disrupted the bunch. However, for the Holden Women’s team, it was business as usual. Attacking from the bunch to open up the legs, Holden led charge after charge while South Perth Rouleurs and Joondalup Cycle City kept on a heavy chase. As the riders approached the Mur du Hay, Grace Brown and Lisen Hockings went up the road, with the former distancing the bunch to take another solo victory for Holden. Emma Pooley and Shannon Malseed rounded out another 1-2-3-4 for Holden, again showing their dominance in the women’s division of the race.

 

In the final team time trial, Veris, who won Stage 1, were chased down by Midland Alpha in under six kilometres. Dome Coffees reached Midland Alpha before ten kilometres. From there, the two trains kept chasing and over taking each other, before Midland Alpha finally cracked. Perth team Santic GDT Racing, spurred on by Champtaloup after his Stage 3 performance, found a new gear on the winding Balingup-Nannup Road.

Overtaking Veris Men’s Development and almost catching Unicorn Racing, the Perth outfit beat the Dome Coffees team by 6 seconds to take the stage win. Santic also won the team classification after Melo Velo once again faltered in the time trial. Champtaloup, having gained the most individual points, claimed the champions jersey for the Open Division. “I wasn’t expecting the win,” said Champtaloup, “I just want to thank the team for their efforts – after all, it’s a team race.”

In the women’s category, Holden stormed past the remnants of many open division teams to take a decisive victory once again. Running with five riders after Kimberly Wells retired, the team still dominated with Shannon Malseed leading the Holden charge. With four stage victories in four days, the Holden squad won the team classification, with Grace Brown winning the best individual rider category. “It’s always a pleasure riding with these girls” said Brown.

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