NRS Tour of the Murray 2012

After a 3hr drive from Melbourne, we arrived at our lovely homestead where some nice looking cottages welcomed our entrance before the start of the 2012 Jayco Tour of the Murray River. Each cabin was very spacious with washing facilities, 3 bathrooms, a large lounge room and 4 bedrooms with comfy single beds, a perfect layout for the Genesys Wealth Advisors Cycling Team. Once unpacked, our team of Anthony Giacoppo, Joel Pearson, Pat Shaw, Alex Carver, Campbell Flakemore, Kane Walker, Blake Hose and myself set off on a 1.5hr ride. After our ride we made a visit to the supermarket to stock up on our very important RACE FOOD for the week! A massage from Gregory ‘Nunny’ Nunn, a nice home-cooked meal by Neil Walker and our usual Team meeting with our Manager Andrew Christie-Johnson (aka ‘ACJ’) capped off a standard NRS travel day.
Just 1 day before racing the Genesys Wealth Advisors Sponsors ride took the mind off the intense week ahead. It was also a great way to meet and inspire some local juniors from the Lavington Panthers Cycling Club in Wodonga. Joel Pearson, Pat Shaw, Kane Walker and I attended the event on behalf of the rest of the team and despite the long drive to get there we enjoyed the recreational ride in beautiful sunny weather. I had my first ride in my brand new fluro yellow Diadora cycling shoes which were very comfortable and easy to spot. After a tyre change for the car on the way back to our accommodation, we returned to find the boys enjoying a hard life of golf in the sun outside our cottages. Dinner was served and eaten by hungry men before a team meeting on the eve of the Tour concluded our Saturday, it was now time to focus and let the racing begin!
Day 1 greeted us with blue skies & sunshine and with very light wind, conditions were prefect for racing. Stage 1 was a criterium race on a fast street circuit of Yarrawonga which provided fast and furious racing amongst all riders. The team went for a few intermediate sprints but struggled to get organised for the finishing sprint. Riders were chopping left right and centre and unfortunately with two laps to go, I was taken out sitting 10th wheel behind Pat Shaw, Alex Carver and Cambell Flakemore who were ready to lead myself and AJ out for the finish. Luckily, the rest of the team escaped the carnage and finshed top 10 with Alex riding very well for 3rd place.
The afternoon’s road stage saw a 77km flat course to Cobram provoke riders to attack with many small breaks appearing off the front. Everyone found themselves in a move at times and it wasn’t until 20k to go that a large break of 25 riders escaped off the front and we were represented by Pearso, Flakey and AJ. The boys managed to stay away and finish 20 seconds in front of the fast moving main bunch. The rest of the team finished upright in the bunch and I nursed the wounds home to recover for the next day. AJ took the win in stage 2 and the overall GC lead, Pat won the KOM jersey and the team was 1st on the Team’s GC after Day 1.
Trying to sleep is a painful task when carrying injuries of any kind and last night wasn’t the ideal sleep I would have liked to have before another tough day in the saddle defending AJ’s overall Tour lead on Day 2 but that’s racing and you need to learn to deal with it. The morning’s crit was race took place around an 850m circuit so your position was important. Everyone did their job to represent the team in the intermediate sprints and/or keep each other safe and out of the wind during the race. Approaching the finish we tried to get our lead-out together with Blake, Kane, Campbell and Alex doing all of the early work to keep the pace high. A number of riders from various teams made our lives a little difficult in the closing laps but we rode strong to help AJ into the perfect position on the final corner and he took the win in style to the joy of the rest of the team. Joel, Pat and myself were also up the front on the final run to the line in 5th, 6th and 7th respectively.
The afternoon’s road stage was fast, windy and open with the attacks being controlled by at least 1 member of our team at all times. With 20km to go, a large group of riders broke away and we were represented by Joel and Flakey and the boys rode strong to stay away with the other riders to see Joel cap off an already successful day to take the win and take the lead in the overall GC. The rest of the team rolled in with the main bunch and were all satisfied with our individual efforts which aided the final victory to come our way.
A long 155km road stage stood in the way of all competitors on Day 3 and with Joel leading the overall GC, we definitely needed to be on top of our game. I managed to do my job for the team by covering a lot of the moves and assisting in chasing down threatening breakaways. I was pleased to be supported by my teammates when under pressure because we help each other out throughout the race a lot and I think that is what makes us (Genesys Wealth Advisors) such a strong team.
The most dangerous move of the day broke clear of the main field after 70km’s and Joel, Alex and I were present in it. I helped lead Joel out for some of the intermediate sprints to gain some of those valuable seconds which he achieved on numerous occasions. The field was back together after 90km’s but after some furious racing, a break of 3 dangerous riders escaped and we were forced to get to the front and chase it down. Over the ‘major’ climb of the day, Campbell and Joel found themselves in a little break which managed to stay clear until 10km’s to go. Blake, Kane, Alex and I turned ourselves inside out to bring the moves back and this gave Pat, Joel and AJ a chance to retain their GC positions at the end of the day. AJ eventually won the stage and we were pleased with the efforts of the team on such a tough day riding mostly in the gutter or riding the front. Joel held onto his lead in the overall GC, AJ remains 2nd by 10seconds, Pat held the KOM Jersey and sits 4th in GC plus the team held onto our overall Teams Classification lead after Day 3.
A very tough and windy course saw the stage 6 criterium eliminate ½ of the field with only 30 finishers at the conclusion of the day. I was struggling to hold the wheels in front of me as many others were too whilst riding in the gutter trying to find protection from the strong wind. A number of small breaks broke clear but it was with 6 laps to go that a group managed to escape. We didn’t manage to take the win but some strong riding from the boys ensured we didn’t lose time on GC lead with Pat and Campbell making the final break also. The afternoon’s stage 7 criterium circuit was heavily affected by the wind as well with a cross/head wind up the finishing straight and a fast tail wind down the back straight. The race was shortened by 5 laps but the intermediate sprints maintained the fast speed of the racing which saw a bunch sprint decide the placing’s. AJ ran 5th and the team did their job to hold Joel’s overall GC lead after Day 4.
Kerang was the next town to host a stage with a 1.1km street circuit kicking off the day’s racing. The wind was present and this added to the difficulty of the racing, but after a number of breakaways and constant attacks, the field would be fighting it out in a bunch sprint at the end. About halfway through the race, our captain on the road Pat Shaw was involved in a crash which left him with a season ending shoulder injury – not what we wanted at all! We pushed on together as a team but even on the final corner Joel was taken out after a Budget rider dropped it in front of him. He was placed right behind the eventual stage winner Luke Davison just prior to the crash as well. AJ found a clear gap however and managed to run 2nd. Joel maintained the GC lead but it was going to be a tough afternoon for everyone.
A short drive to Lake Boga saw Stage 9’s 39km criterium take place to conclude the day’s racing. A cross-wind section along the back straight reduced the size of the field early on but the attacks and breakaways were as furious as ever. Campbell Flakemore managed to break clear with a SASI rider late in the race and we never saw the talented young man again. He claimed a handful of time bonus seconds along the way to an impressive stage victory which capped off a day of mixed emotions for the whole team. Campbell not only took the stage but the overall GC lead as well which saw Joel in 2nd and AJ in 3rd.
The morning of Day 5 was opened with a 2.4km Kermese style circuit which provided plenty of opportunities for a breakaway to succeed. The job was to maintain Campbell’s lead on the overall GC standings and if possible, take the stage win. During the race a number of breaks were established and Alex Carver who is riding really well, once again showed his strength to control the moves. Kane, Blake and I did our bit for the team riding on the front keeping AJ, Joel and Flakey out of the wind when we could until Blake found the gravel after a crash which resulted in some minor injuries. We were unable to get a result but Campbell still leads the GC by 5 seconds to Budget Forklifts Luke Davison. We also held onto out Overall Teams Classification lead which we would like to take out by the end of the Tour. The afternoon’s crriterium was on a shorter circuit but with 40 laps, a hard day in the saddle was to be expected by all. I managed to score a spot on the front row and attacked from the gun to stretch out the field. Unfortunately for me, that was as much as I could contribute ensuring my racing this week wasn’t the usual standard. Thankfully though, Campbell, Alex, AJ & Joel fought hard to the finish which in the end saw the field split to pieces. We lost the overall GC lead with Campbell falling back to 3rd and at the end of the day we were a little disappointed with our overall efforts.
Two more days to go and the field was starting to show weaknesses after a long week of racing. The morning criterium saw Joel take 2nd and everyone contribute their bit to the team’s performance. I managed to make a breakaway and give what I could to help the rest of the team out but in the end it was everyman for himself and Joel showed his experience to make the podium. The afternoon’s stage was a 47km road race on a straight road from one town to another which was so much fun! A block headwind made racing conditions a little more subdued and when the technical finish came up fast, we were out of place and were unable to make the podium. AJ ran 4th and we all ended up having a quiet afternoon on the bike saving the legs for the final stage tomorrow.
It was finally here, the last day of the 2012 Jayco Tour of the Murray River with a 60km hot-dog criterium to conclude the 8 day National Road Series Tour. Prior to the race we set out some goals which included a stage win and to take out the overall team’s classification. Kane, Blake and Alex did their roles on the front supporting Joel, Campbell and AJ for the finish. Around the final corner we had the lead and Joel flew home to take the final stage win and the team took out the Overall Tour Team’s Classification, a great way to finish off!
It was a very harsh week of racing, one I’d rather forget after the heavy crash on stage 1 which made my week painful. Some recovery to heal the injuries and some rest to re-gain my focus should be enough to find my winning form again and help the boys out in our upcoming National Road Series One Day Races. Keep an eye out for the next report which will provide an insight into the team’s participation in the 208km Launceston to Norfolk NRS One Day Classic. Big thanks to our sponsors who support the team and assist us with their wonderful products, to ACJ for his knowledge and assistance throughout the week. To Neil, Nunny and Damo, thanks for the meals, massages and clean bikes which are all very beneficial to our success. To my new sponsor Diadora for their support with shoes, they are the most comfortable shoes I have worn and I look forward to representing your product at the highest level. The photo's were taken by Neil Walker and Mark Gunter, you can visit his website: to see more quality shots. For any information on any of my sponsors products, see the links on the top right-hand side of my blog. Safe riding, cheers Brenton


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