2 February 2008

TDU Stage #1

With the Down Under classic in the bag, it was time to start concentrating on the start of the tour itself. With a win in the first race the Men’s team had done together (almost as we were still awaiting the arrival of Kiwi Greg Henderson, lost somewhere en-route from the LA Track World Cup races), thing were pretty happy around camp. We had a day to sort out the bikes, spare bikes, car and all other equipment need for a successful mission. The team had brought down everything they need for the week, and with an allowance of 180kg for equipment, it was a bit different than the 32kg allowance I normally travelled with. So we had everything we needed and more. Stage One was pretty standard, 129km from Mawson Lakes to Angaston, a nice rolling stage through the Barossa Valley. Made famous here in Adelaide for it’s exceptional red wine, home of Jacobs Creek, and another 120 vineyards by the look of things. I was on driving and feeding duties with the two Souigneur’s, Franki and Marchello, not my first choice, but being the new kid on the team, I did what I was told, so bottle bitch would be fine for the day. Driving on the left side of the road came natural for me, so no stress for the dive to the feed station, the others were worried about driving. The race organisation had provided every team with a team car for the race, and a very nice VW bus for the transport of riders and feeding duties. So there was plenty of room for all we needed for the day, and transfers back to the hotel after it’s all over for the day.

Been here since 1851, and looking great still. We had been here since 1242 but was gone by 1357.

Kind of cool arriving at the start, in full convoy, with a police escort in front and all around us. We lined up at the start, and like a well-oiled machine, we left 15mins before the start, for the feed station. It looked kind of cool with 20 buses looking all the same, with racks and team markings heading off into the distance. Arriving at the feed zone, we had a couple of hours to kill, so with camera in hand, and a full bladder, I did some exploring. The area was still in drought, so the hills and fields were burnt brown by the sun. And scattered amongst the fields of dirt was lush looking grape vines, not carrying a whole lot of fruit on them, but green and bold all the same. Not being here before, I realised the area is dripping in history, mostly the alcoholic type. The vineyard just behind us had been making wine since 1835, with the original cellar (think it’s called Seppeltsfield Wines, at least that’s what the local guy said) still standing since 1851, it looked amazing, complete with stone storage tanks looking like an old castle turrets. With palm trees and fantastic gardens surrounding us, I felt like I was on holiday, and with a couple of hours to kill, I was. And that old adage that the Souigneur’s work pretty hard during the day, was now but a distant conversation.

Alright, who wants a feed. First time past the feed zone.

The last 20m of the sprint finish.

The race came past us twice, with the first time a break of three was out the front a few minutes, but the bunch seemed to have it under control. And by the time they passed us the second time, all was together, with the speed was high to stop more attacks. Feeding was too easy with the boys wearing black, I could spot them miles away, makes an easy job even easier. There was a bunch sprint, we sprinted, but all finished in the group, nothing too exciting, think we got a place of seven or something for our first rider. But not to worry, the race had plenty more to go, and who wants the leaders jersey on the first day.

And if you have not seen them yet, more pics here.

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