Tour of Bright 2011 - Climbers Paradise...

The weekend of racing started with a very long 4 hour drive to Bright which was filled with nerves and excitement. Upon arrival at our apartments, it was time to get focused for a world of pain and discomfort over the next two days of solid racing. I went for a light 30 minute roll on Saturday's Time Trial Course with the legs feeling fresh and ready to go. After contemplating what my pre-race meal should be during my light roll, upon return, it seemed as though Dad had decided for me. Pasta with Chicken, Spinach, Avocado and Mushrooms was on the menu and I was not complaining due to the wonderful cooking skills on display. After a good feed and a solid stretch session, it was time for an early night in preparation for what would be a hard day in the saddle.

Day 1, Stage 1:
The morning was here, the start was set, the riders were ready. A quality breakfast and a light warm up was a perfect start to the day. On the start line, the mental games were being played but all riders were ready to go in what would be a furious start. Under control, the flag was out and the bunch was kept in line for the first 3km's. As soon as the flag went down, the racing started and the pace was on!!
Attacks started to come from left, right and center and I was riding up the front to stay out of trouble, but also to create and join some of the small breaks.
The bunch was together at the bottom of the Rosewhite climb and although stretching the legs at the top, the bunch remained all together by the bottom of the climb on the other side.
From the base of the climb to the flat roads heading towards Mt Beauty, the attacks and breaks kept coming. A small group broke away but after some chasing, the bunch was back together by the first Sprint at Tawoonga. After the feed zone, a couple of fresh bottles and some TORQ Nutrition Gels which did the job to replenish the fuels, it was now up to the legs for the last 2 climbs. At the start of the Bogong climb leaving Mt Beauty, the pace was on and a small break of 4 riders were away. I was hanging onto the back of the bunch hoping the legs would get me over the climb, and as soon as I got into a good tempo, the pace was increased and I was now off the back of the bunch trying to stay in touch. At the turn around point at Bogong, it was head down all the way to try and bridge the gap back to the bunch. Working with a small group of 5 riders, I got back onto the bunch by the bottom of Mt Beauty. I got one last bottle from Dad at the base of the Tawoonga Gap Climb and from there, it was survival. The bunch (full of mountain goats) road off into the distance and got to the top 5 mins before me. It was a solid day in the saddle, but we all had to go back to Bright in preparation for the Time Trial in the afternoon. This put me into 34th place overall.

Stage 2:
The Individual Time Trial - pain, pain and more pain.
22:04 mins was my time which was consistent for how much TT training i have done, but at the end of the day, only good enough for 17th Place.
The winner did a time of 20:39 mins which was a course record, so I now have something to aim for in future years.
Although the legs were dead, i was reasonably happy with my ITT ride. I was now into 30th Place overall.
Pool recovery, stretching and a nice meal was on the cards before another early night to prepare the legs for Mt Hotham - stage 3.

Day 2, Stage 3:
Mt Hotham - a climb filled with ups, downs, flat, dead name it, it's got it!
I had only ever ridden the climb once before and I new that the last 10km's were hell.
On the start line however, we were told the the race was going to be shortened due to bad weather on the summit of Hotham. This meant that the new race finish was at the end of the 'False Flat' at the 45km mark (from Bright). A short stage meant aggressive racing early on. Again, breaks were a key element of the tactics being played and I found myself in the ideal spot just after the first Sprint to form a group of 10 riders which built up a handy lead. By the beginning of the climb, the breakaway had 1:20 mins on the main bunch. Although struggling to hold wheels after just 3km's up the climb, I set a strong tempo and still had the break in my sights shortly after I had been dropped. The tempo meant i saved just enough energy to try and survive with the leaders until we hit 'the Meg' which is a very sharp increase in gradient for about 500m. After this section, I was caught by a small group of 10 riders who i stayed with until the finish. Across the line, the legs were dead and I was in need of food and a jacket. 28t place was the result, which meant I stayed in 30th place overall.
As a weekend of racing on a whole, the Tour of Bright was a great way to improve your climbing and race against a quality field of riders. I definitively have a lot more climbing to work on, but I think I'll stick to sprinting for now, it's what I'm built for.
Thanks to dad for a great weekend and all your support, my sponsors Torq Nutrition (, Monza Imports: CUBE Bikes, Coach Matt Wallace and the rest of my family for and friends for their support.
Keep posted for race updates in upcoming Crit races and for the 2012 National Road Championships in early January.



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