Oceania Road Race
Last year, I did not have an enjoyable Oceania’s campaign. I registered for the TT but did not start due to lack of preparation and not actually having a TT bike. A few days later in the road race and I found myself in a ditch on the side of the road which cut my day short, leaving me with nothing but a DNF next to my name and some road rash. Oh, I also got food poisoning on my way home just to top it all off!
However, 2016 was another story! I knew my form was good after the Tour of Oman and that it was a good time to try and get another solid result before heading overseas in a few weeks time. The road race was supposed to be 180km, however ours was cut short due to an accident en route, which also meant we climbed the south side of Mt Alexander instead of the north side.
Racing in 38 degrees is hard, and I think mostly everybody else there would agree. It makes me think back to racing at the Tour of Abu Dhabi in nearly 50 degrees, and I now can’t quite comprehend how we did this in hindsight. Anyway, these racing conditions meant we had to be focused throughout the day because before you know it, with many dehydrated bodies, the race can quickly go up the road and never be seen again.
I think the first proper breakaway of the day got established after 1 hour of racing with a handful of riders. Back in the peloton, I went up to my teammate Lachlan Norris to discuss the situation. We had our third and final teammate for the day Tom Scully representing Drapac in that particular breakaway and with only three of us, it was very important to ensure we had someone in the breakaway, (or at least that the breakaway didn’t get too far up the road before the Mt Alexander climb). But before we knew it, guys were attacking the peloton again, causing little splits.
I found myself in a little split of five riders, and with a few of them willing to dig pretty deep and pull some long turns, we soon found ourselves making our way up to the breakaway. Great! Then we got news that another group of about 10 riders were coming across, and behind them another large group. Essentially, the breakaway had disappeared and now become a peloton of about 40 riders, and it would stay that way until the base of the Mt Alexander climb, (with the exception of Sean Lake and Nathan Elliot forming a new breakaway).
Over Mt Alexander, I set a difficult pace that only left four riders together by the summit, and the four of us would keep our advantage all the way to the finish. Norris was still there along with Mark O’Brien and an U23, Michael Storer. Sean Lake had managed to keep an advantage of ~20 seconds over the climb, and we would never catch him. With O’brien (teammates with Sean Lake) getting a free ride to the finish and occasionally attacking and disrupting our chase, we got close, but I ended up finishing 2nd overall, 11 seconds behind.
Not a bad result, but it would have also been great to win. (Obviously!) I feel like we gave ourselves a really good chance, and considering our three rider team, we did really well to finish with 2nd and 4th overall for the day. Congratulations to Sean Lake for an impressive ride for the win!
That night I enjoyed some pizza and wine from a local place in Castlemaine, the hometown of Lachie Norris. We later saw Fabian Cancellara go on to win the classic Strade Bianche one day race and earn himself 200 UCI points. I’m not sure how the UCI points were decided for our Oceania’s, but I earned 200 UCI points for my second place, and Sean Lake picked up 250 for winning!!
Anyway, I won’t complain about this. It was a solid result, and a good way to finish off the summer racing in Australia. I raced my last Wednesday night Hawthorn criterium of the season (coming 3rd again for the second week in a row!) because I’m off to Europe shortly!! My flight is the 25th of March. Unfortunately, at this stage it seems unlikely that I’ll register for the Mansfield Tour to defend my title from 2015, but there are bigger and better things on the horizon.
For now, it’s about keeping fresh, motivated and healthy for a big block of racing.
Thanks for reading,