16 January 2008

Australian Men's Road Race

After the Women’s Road race, I had a bit of a mission to collect four of the Men’s bikes, scattered around the town of Ballarat. Normally we stay in the same hotel, and normally I have the team truck to work out of, but no luck this week, I was slumming it for a change. I was stuck with being pickup and delivery boy, as well as team wrench for the week. Ballarat was a pretty easy town to navigate around, which makes a change for me, as I normally need a GPS to find my way around the living room. I think it’s being in the southern hemisphere, my internal navigation system works, and my north is pointing the right way up. So after all the bikes were in my hands, the hard work started. I had four riding in the morning, Adam Hansen, the new Aussie TT champ, Michael Rodgers, Scott Davis, and a ringer from my own country New Zealand. Greg Henderson, was here to give the boys some help for the race, just before he flew out to LA for another Track World Cup series.

Hey it's Kiwi Greg Henderson, here to give the boy's some help, he can win, but not gain the title.

I set to work, finally I had a few deadlines, something that I enjoy working with, without a little bit of stress, things are way too easy. As mentioned, the bikes the team were riding this week, were their home bikes, so they needed some serious work to bring it up to my usual standard. But they were looking good by the time I finished. Now for the late night delivery, all the Men were riding to the start the next day, and I think they felt more comfortable going to sleep, looking at their rides. Suppose working with me for the first time, may have made them a little nervous, I think I was more nervous than them. The start was at 11.00 am, just early enough to miss out on some of the heat predicted for the day. With a full field of just over 100 starters, it was going to be fun for the team. Using the same course as the Women and U23 used the day before, the difference was the Men were racing 160km. With temperatures predicted in the mid thirties (‘C), there would be some serious carnage when the sun hit midday. Let’s hope the riders are prepared for it.

Hey it's Adam Hansen (left), and Michael Rodgers, hanging out before the start.

The weather had changed to some very overcast conditions, and by the time I was working on the last bike, (Scott was staying in the same hotel, so I took the opportunity to work on his bike when the sun was up, (at least I could see what I was doing), there was some light rain coming down, and it was cold as. In the Melbourne region, there has been some serious drought for the last few years, so I was surprised with the rain. Things would change in the race with wet roads. I freaked a little, as the riders were not concerned about not having carbon brake pads in their bikes, I was, as with a bit of rain, stopping safely was not that easy. I drove the few km’s to the race, by the time I arrived, the slight drizzle of rain had stopped, and there was still dust on the road with not a single bit of rain present, very strange. By the time the start was called, the sun was up, and it was starting to get hot. The team was relaxed, it’s always nice to see elite men on the start line though, hanging out, waiting for the gun. But the race was about to start, so I had to look serious for a while. I did not have to follow the race for the day, it was for the State teams only, and I had palmed my wheels off to the various cars following the race. I was bottle bitch for the day, hanging out on the hill feeding the riders.

Waiting for the start, can you pick our riders out? Too easy eh.

The race was off, and right from the gun the speed was high. By the time they came past us on the hill for the first time, there was a small break happening, with one of the lads, Scotty in it. Greg was on the front of the bunch keeping control, chasing down the various attacks. By the third lap past us, they had a great gap of about 5 mins, they were working well together, keeping the bunch at bay. A few more laps, the break was still away, with a time gap reaching the maximum for the day, of almost 7 mins. The bunch was starting to splinter, with quite a few of them dropping off the back every time they came past the feed zone. The break stayed away for at least 120km’s, with a few riders trying to breach the gap, Willy Walker (pretty popular here), and a few others, hanging 100m in front of the bunch, not going anywhere fast. But there was some reaction from the bunch, time for the break to be reeled in.

The second lap break, hey it's Scotty in there, nice start.

While not following the race, things were happening out on the course that I couldn’t see, but the break dropped was dropping a few with two laps to go. By this time, I spotted a machine on the road, not a bike this time, but a rider looking pretty cut, just cruising up the hill, leaving the chasing bunch who were closing fast on Scotty and the others. Matthew Lloyd was the man, and close behind him was our own Adam Hansen, chasing the break down with a winning look in his eyes. I never saw his eyes following in the TT, but now I can recognise a driven man, looking for the double jersey. By the time they came past the finish line for the bell lap, Matthew Lloyd had now passed Scotty, who was now joined by Adam. It looked pretty cool, the two highroad boys, powering through the finish chute. Matt had a 50 sec advantage over the two by now, and there was one other rider hanging around, Rory Sutherland. Scotty was nailed by this stage, unfortunately 150km out the front was taking its toll, but he was towing Adam as far as he could.

The winer for the day, Matthew Lloyd, cruising on the second to last lap.

By the time we saw the first rider in the distance, I could see a red jersey, it was not Adam or Scotty, damn it. Matt Lloyd took the win, but just as I was thinking it was all over for us, I spied two riders in the distance, one of them had a black kit on. As they reached close to the finish, the sprint was on, I instantly recognised Adam chasing Rory Sutherland, it was close as they sprinted to the line, Rory was is front most of the sprint, and not ever seeing Adam sprinting, I had no idea what he was capable of. The race was on for second place, it was so close looking through the camera, I had to check the image, (think they call that a photo finish), and it looked good, Adam for a Silver medal. And by the looks of things, scraped in by a couple of centimetres. Almost 75% of the field pulled out of the race, the heat getting to them, Mick and Greg were in there unfortunately.

Team timetrail from, Scotty, and then Adam hanging on.

A very successful Aussie champs for the team, and every colour medal you can win, and a double Gold. Bronze for Alexis in the Women’s TT, Gold for Adam in the Men’s TT. Gold for Oneone in the Women’s road race, and Silver for Adam in the men’s race. It’s a shame they have to wear the National Jersey’s now instead of the cool black ones, but it will sure look good at the races. I was pretty stoked with their efforts, and with my own work of course. Nice to know the riders appreciate my work, with the thanks I got, but I was more than happy working for them, especially with results like this.

The sprint for second place, congrats Adam, nice sprint by the way.

And some more pics over here.

No comments: