Stage 2 Suntour
They turned on the heaters here in country Vic for stage 2 of the herald Suntour. On paper It looked like a nice easy day for all involved, a relatively flat 115km run from bendigo to negambie but as is so often the case, these little short stages cam prove to be quite the leg burner!! Having the man of steele Von Hoff in our ranks we fancied our chances for a victory for him and therefore made the plan pretty simple, if he wasn't in the breakaway we would make sure it was a bunch sprint. After not really playing any part in the race yesterday at all I was determined if nothing else to ensure I suffered as much as possible today and by the time I arrived in negambie I was that buckled that I just wanted to jump of the starting pontoons at the rowing course just 100m from the finish of the bike race! By the end of the fast and furious stage which we knocked over the 115km in 2hrs 35min steele would gallantly gallop to a fine 2nd place. As always there plenty that goes on between go to wo so here's the tail of the tape through my eyes.
As always when we have a day like stage 1 everyman and his dog who got left behind yesterday wanted to be up the road today. So that meant about 80 guys wanted to be in the breakaway! So from the gun it was on like donkey kong and before we knew it we were half way through the stage. Steele was alert as ever as where all the sprinters who figured if they got in the break it was a good bet after yesterday's stage outcome and with there rapid accelerations we knocked put 50km in the first hour, no mean feat on these cheese grater Vic country dead roads! Our boys were all on the ball and everything was going to plan. The stage was hard which we wanted as Steele is a man who can handle a hard stage and still have a kick like a mule and if something got away we would be in it. Around this midway point we had a little alarm with our young MTb climbing star chris hamilton taking a tumble off the road and that meant me and nick dropping back to bring him into the race. It was a little average timing as at this point the break was slipping away but we needed to ensure he was protected as possible and saved as much energy as possible as he is a big gc hope for arthurs seat on Sunday. Fortunately only a few guys slipped away however what they lacked in numbers they made up for in HP with the big horse will Clarke and speedster classics strongman Tyler farrar setting off in pursuit of glory. With the group happy to let them go we rolled along for a bit of a respite while we waited to see who was going to take up the chase.
At this point I was pretty nervous and apprehensive about letting these strong men have too much breathing room. We had only ridden 55km and had only 60km to the finish!! Sure enough 10km later when UHC finally started to form some sort of a chase the gap was 3minutes and I knew this needed to be shut down as these boys were sting and we had only 50km to pull them back. The reason that I knew there was some urgency was that it's one thing to chase even 3 strong boys for 50km after 150km but to do it after only 60km means they still have alot of fuel in the tank. It meant the pace had to be pretty much full from behind specially with only a few guys working to make up the 3kmph difference in that final hr of racing. So up to the front I went and immediately told the UHC boys we needed to booggy! They agreed and we ramped up the pace. To give you an idea usually you can build into a chase which I do using heart rate. First pull 150ish 2nd 160ish and then settle into where need to be which in the final 50km is somewhere between 160-190pulse. Well today I had a far amount of respect for the men up the road that my first pull was at 190!! And there wasn't one pull that dipped below that, they fluctuated between 190-195 for my 90second to 2 minute pulls. After a good struggle with the strong men up the road the gap finally got a manageable 1min 20sec with 25km to go. At this point I went back and grabbed nick to give me a hand as we were Helpers and I wanted to ensure we all stayed as fresh as possible, me included despite to work i had been doing on the front, to ensure steele didn't get in an trouble in the final part of the race. Nick and Gus did an awesome job in helping shut down that final 90seconds which while we managed to do with 10km to go was a real fight all the way till we had them in the group. Will and Tyler both knew that there chances were not over until they were absorb fully by the peleton which awesome to see them put up such a huge fight and really make a great bike race. With the race together at 8km to run I dropped back into the group to ensure Steele was all good. While my HP for an type of lead out or positioning had well and truly been used up I still had just enough energy to get him out of trouble and back to the front if he needed it. Sure enough and every great spinters does Steele was surfing away in pole position in the peleton ready to follow whichever lead put train was the best. Steele is a free styling sprinter that doesn't rely on a train so the best you can do for him is ensure there is a sprint and he is in the washing machine of top sprinters to choose the right wheel. Today however we had a made a little blunder with having Gus and nick ride as ideally one of them should have stayed with Steele to help him position that final time in the final km as he did get boxed out on the final corner. Being so far out of position really made his 2nd place fantastic as he came from the clouds which obviously leaves yo thinking what could have been but it is what it is. On one hand we made a fortunate call by going up and riding hard as otherwise there ma have been no sprint but then we lacked a little in the end. Still with a composite team there will always be teething problems so we have hopefully another day tomorrow to get it right.
From my part i was happy to really suffer again. While the stage was short bu sweat in only 2hrs 30min which I was still 165heart rate average which certainly let's your legs and lungs know you've done something so hopefully the racing body is waking up a little and I can get amongst it all again tomorrow!
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