Stage 6 and a circuit around the beautiful streets of Adelaide city brought the 2011 Tour Down Under to close. It was far from a gentle exhibition on the final day with 90km of racing completed in 1hr48min. The was kept high courtesy of the riders at the top of the general classification fighting for the bonus seconds at the two intermediate sprints and of course the final sprint for the stage Victory. For me it was a pretty challenging day, firstly of course because of the rapid pace on the undulating circuit and secondly due to the fatigue that had set in with it being my first stage Race in nearly 7months, it is always a little bit of a shock to the system backing up for a week of racing when you have not done it for a while, specially at pro tour level. The final day was full of excitement as Cam Meyer fought of the sprinters to hold onto his overall lead. Matt Goss and Micheal Mathewss through all they had at him but “speed cam” as he was nicknamed in the press held them off and maintained his lead he courageously earnt as a result of the race winning breakaway on stage 4. It was a very good display of the depth of immense talent in Australian cycling at this years tour down under and will no doubt not be the last big results achieved by the likes of Cam Meyer, Matt Goss, Micheal Mathews and of course Ritchie Porte whom did all he could to animate the race anytime we hit a climb. My liguigas Cannondale Boys and me included all got though the final day unscathed but were not at the level to challenge for the win on the final day but will head back to Europe with some crucial hard racing in the pins and I am sure step the performances up another level in the upcoming races.
For me it was an amazing experience to partake in the tour down under. In 2007 Jess and I travelled to Adelaide to watch the race and meet with Cycling Australia’s Kevin Tabotta about my options in the cycling world. At the time I was deciding whether to go all into cycling or stick with rowing and took the opportunity to see if watching the great cyclist race stirred something inside me to have a crack at it myself. On this occasion jess and I watched the Willunga stage on a day where tasmania’s Karl Menzies held the overall Leaders Jersey. We watched the riders role though the town of Willunga before walking up the hill to watch them on arguably the most famous part of the race. Watching the riders that day certainly stirred something in me and new that one day I wanted to in that peleton racing up Willunga. I remember seeing fellow Tassie boys Wez Sulzberger and of course Karl Menzies and just wanted to be on the bike racing with them. The atmosphere that day was just amazing and was really my first experience watching a live professional bike race. 4 Years on and I was finally in that peleton when it hit the slopes of Willunga hill. It was a special moment for me and to crest the summit on the second accent in the front of the peleton alongside Matt Goss, Cam Meyer, Mick Rogers, and simon Gerrans to name a few, all guys I have a massive amount of admiration for was quite a nice feeling. Not only That but all those that but having my Mum, Auntie, Jess’s Mum and Dad Pete and jenny, And close family friends bryan and Anne Hornsey at the top of the climb screaming there encouragement for me just as I had done for wez and karl in 07 will stay with me as a very special memory. Jess also had a bit of change of viewing the race as she rode in the team car for the Willunga stage which she loves doing. My Dad and His partner Kell were Perched on the final Finish straight in a corporate area consuming South Australia’s finest cuisine and wine while watch the race on the big screen and certainly made it clear after wood that while sitting on the banks of a rowing course can be enjoyable, they are certainly happy following my cycling events, My Performance in the race certainly far from spectacular and I would describe as very conservative left me in 26th position on the general classification so still a lot of improvement needed. For me however after the past couple of years of Illness and lack of confidence in my body it was a good sign that I am starting to find my rhythm again and also nice to finish further toward the front than the back for a change. It was certainly on a whole a nice way to kick of 2011 and one race I won’t forget in hurry. It was a great week and I just feel real happy that I was able to share it with all those whom have supported me and I am so close to. Having such great support from family and friends certainly makes me enjoy what I do so much more.
The organisation of the race was second to none I have experienced in any sporting arena I have seen. In my opinion it had many similarities to the Olympics, great hotel, every tiny detail covered down to police escorts to the race start ensure we all arrived on time without stress or panic, Coca Cola fridges filled with water, coke, juice, and powerade which is certainly big trademark of the Olympics, the most helpful staff you could imagine at the Hilton hotel in central Adelaide where we resided for the week, and of course an army of volunteers that went out of there way to do anything they could. Then off course the top athletes of the sport which were headlined by none other than one of the greatest sportsman to walk the planet, Lance Armstrong, whom ensured a good show was put on for the hundreds of thousands of the worlds best supporters wherever we went. The organisers of the tour down under have certainly created one of not only the best sporting events in the Australia but what many say as one of the best sporting events in the world.
With the conclusion of down under it was home to Hobart for 1 more week before heading back to Europe for the first part of my season which takes me through to paris Roubaix. It gave me the opportunity to also check out my favourite training ground Mt Wellington a few times to admire the view and remind myself of how lucky I am to call Hobart my home. From the top I can see so many of my life’s experiences, the home I was born and raised in and all the others I have lived in including my current residence, My old school, the university I attended, the river I spent so many hrs rowing up and down and off course the landscape which I work on currently everyday on my bike. It is a magnificent view and one that never ever gets boring. Aside from training I got all my admin tasks done, caught up with friends, and had the honour of attending my good mate Sam Beltz and his beautiful now wife Emma’s wedding. Has been a very eventful and exciting summer for me and I am looking forward to the next phase of the year in Europe.