Stage 4 Suntour
The final stage of the Suntour is a real doozey!! There is always suspense till the very end at the Suntour thanks to the final stage finish on the iconic arthurs seat climb. The stage is set down on the morning ton peninsula and has that many twists and turns and lumps and bumps that you feel sea sick at times, there simply isn't a flat section of road in the entire course. Through in the constant flutter of breeze that seems forever present in the area and with all the changes in direction you really have to stay on your toes to ensure your not caught out. While the previous couple of days had all been about steele, the final stage and with the summit finish at argues seat was all about our gc men chris and laughlan to see what they could. We had a fair bit of faith in particularly lauchie for today of a high finish so the plan was pretty simple, get him to base of the final climb as fresh as possible. Following a big 80km loop of the peninsula we had 3 well balanced 16km circuits including the arthurs seat climb to tackle befor the finish at the summit on the 3rd assent. Wight he tricky course and the wind and off course the importance of the final climb for the overall battle in the race, it was always going to be a pretty stressful and challenging stage and it didn't disappoint.
Our man of steele Von Hoff was on his home roads. Sure enough as the flag dropped for the start he was off like a rocket ship in the days early breakaway giving his family friends and fans a good chance to cheer him on all day. The rest of our lads got together in the group and began the day long stressful battle for position ensuring lauchie and chris had as easy a ride as possible. Fortunately I was feeling even better today so figured it was best I take the role of positioning the boys and make good use of the extra fuel I finally started feeling in my pins. On a twisty, windy, undulating course like today the peleton is always stretched out in one big long line so position is even more crucial as the further back you are the more yoyo you have to endure and the more sting it saps out of your legs. Therefore my role role to ensure we were always in the right spot to save the boys valuable energy and also ensure we didn't miss any potential splits in the peleton. It's a simple job really provided your prepared to use plenty of energy. It's alway easy to sit in the wheel at the front but if you can't get a space in the line in a good possi you simply have to form another line and ride in the wind. This can obviously be pretty draining but it makes a huge difference for the boys behind you not wasting energy fighting wind and fighting for position. Also when you are in the long line and it's in the gutter you not real helping your boys as if your in the gutter the guy behind gets less coverage than you do so I always sit on the outside of the wheel in front to give my man behind maximum protection. Basically on a day like today you simply think at every moment where can I ride to save energy for my team mate behind as It could be the difference between a good and greater result for the team. So around the 80km circuit i boxed on in the bunch for good posi for the boys and we were finally at the base of the climb for the start of the circuits. I was not surprisingly pretty cooked by this point so made sure I positioned the guys right at the front at the base of the climb so I would have plenty of paces to drop back through the group and stay at the front of the race for as long as possible!
So onto the climb we went for the first time in perfect posi. I set up camp behind the avanti team doing all the work on the front which meant I had a nice content rhythm to follow. Fortunately my condition seemed to be returning and I was actually finally able to recover a little on the climb as was no longer having to ride in the wind and fight for position as the pace was such that everyone was happy where they were positioned. Lauchie and chris looked good so all was going according to plan for the korda mentha national team boys. By the top I had got my second wind and was ready for my next role should I have the energy, cover any dangerous counter attacks. A few went and I quickly followed but none were at all threatening. With such small gaps on gc none of the big players were going to be able to go anywhere and we were back in the climb for the 2nd time before we knew it. The 2nd time up was much like the first and a nice solid tempo with no attacks. As expected everyone seemed keen on saving the pins for the final climb and try and make a difference there. Was funny day really as on the big 80km loop I spent so much energy holding is in a good position that I was fried by the time we reached the circuits. Fortunately then the more constant pace of the climb had actually freshened me up a little and I was ready to do whatever I could for lauchie on the final climb.
Before we knew it we were finally at the base of the final assent of arthurs seat and just 3km away form the end of the tour. The boys were in a great posi so we had done our job and given them the best chance to strut there stuff on the final climb. As expected the pace on the final time up really ramped up and now I was reminded of the work done earlier in the day as the turbo was well and truly gone! I had the chew chew train legs but anything over and I was instantly aboard the pain train. Anyways I gritted my teeth and hung in aslong as I could to be there for lauchie if required but when the first big attack came with 2km to go the leaders went one way and I went the other, I didn't have any kick in me today. Unfortunately lauchie didn't have the day he planned as he visibly had untimely cramps in the final km or so. As great as it would have been to see him do one of his devastating attacks it just wasn't meant to be today. Lauchie is having a quiet year this year so hasn't done anywhere near the racing or hard preparation he normally would for this time of the year. He'll focus on the big tours in the USA later in the year at altitude with Utah and Colorado so is slowly building up to them. I can understand where he is at as I'm in the same boat, infect I haven't even done any motor pacing this year preferring to just go out and ride and hope to have some decent race condition. I certainly paid for it in the first couple of stages but was a nice feeling to feel the legs hardening back up to the demands of racing the final couple of stages. I was certainly a tired boy but knew I needed a good blowout so was happy to still play apart in the race in the last few stages. Anyways that was that, bit of an anticlimax day for our boys but we did what we planed to do everyday in giving our guys a shot and that's all we could ask of ourselves as we were simply outgunned by better riders.
Once I crossed the line it struck me that the race was over. I felt however like I was jus getting going again and didn't want to the of the bike. I round up the Morton boys said lets ride back to Melbourne. These guys are absolute champions of men and didn't hesitate in saying rightio. It want until we had ridden 10km that they actually asked how far it was as really they didn't care. This was a chance for us to enjoy riding our bikes outside the structure of a race for the first time in a few days and the chinwag home was what the 3 of us most cared about. Besides these two boys rode form port Macquarie to uluru in the off season so riding long days isn't something that bothers them. As great as the whole team was this week riding with the Morton boys was something I'll remember for a long time. They always and I mean always have something exciting to talk about. Infect every night at dinner there stories had us in that much laugher that I had a sore stomach and saw excellent gains in m 6 pack during the 5days! The ride home back to Melbourne was our first chance to really just hang out in an environment it became apparent we share the passion for hanging out in! On a bicycle. In a year that seas the Morton boys and I headed down a similar path with or cycling i guess it was no surprise we got along pretty well. When we finally mad our way back to st kilda at 8pm we figured we may aswell stop at the bar for a quick end of season beverage. It was st kilda festival so people everywhere so I was a little scared when I rolled into the pub and ordered 3 schooners dressed in my Lycra! Fortunately I got the bears, myself, and my wallet back out to the boys with just a few wise cracks, think they were scared of giving me a hard time as I left my helmet on for safety! Always the Morton boys and I had an awesome afternoon discussing everything and everything and a little bit of cycling. We made some plans which will come to fruition throughout the year which we are all pretty excited about. That's an understatement really as some of the adventures we have come up with had us bouncing out of our skin but more on that later. Was a great way to wrap up a great week racing around victoria with an awesome group of guys. Sow to the mortons, davo, Stuy, chris, steels, nick, leanne, and of course the wonderful group of people at Korda mentha who sponsored the national tema for the event thankyou very much for being part of such a an eventful week! Next stop toowoomba and the Oceania TT.
Sent from my iPad