If anybody had a script for how they thought nationals was going to unfold last Sunday, I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people would have been far off the mark!
Jack Bobridge had an incredible ride to take out the overall victory after getting into the early break, attacking the break, and riding solo for over 90km’s to the finish. I must say that this was a little bittersweet after riding for him at Nationals in 2015 where he finished in 6th place and I only managed to get around 16 of the 18 laps before getting dropped.
Congratulations Jack, all the best in 2016!
This year I managed to get around with the peloton to the finish in 11th place, with Sam Spokes finishing the best for Drapac in 7th place.
It wasn’t quite the result the team was after, but things don’t always go according to plan. From over 120 starters in the race, only 15 managed to finish!! With the three podium getters being up the road and three riders finishing off the race behind the peloton, this meant that there were only 9 riders left in the main group with a few laps to go. So there’s lots to be said about the difficulty of Sunday’s race.
Lots of this happened when Richie Porte got to the front of the main highway climb and went full gas for two laps in a row! Fair to say it was very fast and caused lots of damage to the peloton. The main problem was that after these climbs, no team was really on the front riding tempo, and as a result Jack’s advantage up the road quickly got out to over nine minutes.
After those couple of fast laps by Richie, the Orica-Greenedge team took responsibility at the front of the race to try and chase down Jack Bobridge, but it appeared to be all too late. Caleb Ewen was dropped earlier on the race, so their man was going to be Simon Gerrans. With the whole Orica-Greenedge team riding, it was incredible to see that Jack’s advantage wasn’t really coming down. They maybe took back about 10 seconds one lap, and 10 seconds another lap, but with only 8 laps remaining and a time gap of still 9 minutes, it seemed unlikely that he was going to be caught as more and more riders were getting dropped from the peloton each time up the climb.
It was with 4 laps to go it was Rohan Dennis that had another crack up the climb, and this really put on the hurt. It was this lap that saw the peloton reduce down to the remaining 15 riders, isolating many riders with Simon Gerrans the only remaining rider from GreenEdge. Dimension Data had two riders remaining (only starting with three riders) with Cam Meyer and Nathan Haas, whilst Avanti had the numbers with 4 riders.
For the remaining laps, there was a little bit of cat and mouse until Cam Meyer, Rohan Dennis and Pat Lane all ended up the road. In hindsight either Spokesy or myself should have covered these particular moves. When one rider attacks, sometimes you either think he probably won’t stay up the road, or the peloton will bring him back. Other times you know you should go, but you’ve just covered something else or you are caught out with position. Or sometimes you simply don’t have the legs.
Fortunately I don’t think it was a case of not having any legs, and that’s the positive I’ll take away with me heading over to Argentina. (I am currently writing this blog from our hotel in San Luis which is situated at the base of some rather big mountains). It’s also Saturday the 16th of January local time, but the 17th of January in Australia which happens to be my birthday. Does this mean I’m already 24 years old?
The first stage is a 20km TTT which I was looking forward to, but we’re already a man down with our TT specialist and massive unit Jens Mouris not catching the flight over due to being sick. We start on Monday. In the meantime, I’m keeping occupied through the process of learning some basic Spanish (me gusto mucho comer donas), and reading a new book called “The Road Less Travelled” by M.Scott Peck.
To all those followers heading across to the Tour Down Under, say hello to the Drapac team and enjoy the riding that Radelaide has to offer!
Muchas gracias, y hasta luego