Tour of Tasmania 2014 NRS
Tour of Tasmania is arguably Australia’s toughest tour in the National Road Series featuring 6 stages and some difficult terrain. After doing some recon in Hobart earlier during the week I was really excited flying back down with the same strong team from Canberra where Health.com.au-Search2Retain claimed its first NRS tour win for the season. With Drapac Professional Cycling returning from overseas to race alongside continental teams Avanti and Budget Forklifts, there seemed to be lots of media attention towards these three teams fighting it out for the overall win. I think this is what made Health.com.au-Search2Retain’s overall GC win so great!
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Paddy Bevin placed 2nd in the 17.2km ITT up Mt. Wellington and we knew he would have a great chance at taking the overall jersey by the time we finished stage 6. It’s actually crazy how well he can get up a big climb for his size. I guess you can never be too big to be a climber! Health.com.au-S2R finished with 3 in the top 10 for the stage, and this would give us options throughout the remaining 5 stages. Stage 1 Results
Stage 2 started with very wet conditions and saw a breakaway stay away which had no implications for the overall GC. The only crash for the team happened during this stage on the run into the finish where Alistair “Ricky Bobby” Donohoe took the final corner a little bit too quick. This was the only crash I experienced from the whole tour, although there were a couple of other hairy moments; Taylor Gunman’s rear wheel slipped sideways beneath him as I followed him down a wet descent (I honestly don’t know how he kept it up) and I ran my front wheel into Bayly’s rear skewer one time while I was enjoying the scenery… (Eric Sheppard also had a stack while rolling around before a stage start, but I’m not sure this counts.) More interestingly, the word going around was that more motorbikes were involved in crashes than the riders. I counted three for the tour.
Although we didn’t have the leaders jersey, Health.com.au-S2R rode like we were in that position by taking control on the front of the race for the majority of stage 3. Strava had come in very useful throughout the tour as we were able to look up sections from the course that had been raced in previous years to see how long the climbs would take. The Grindelwald South Climb only took about 7 minutes and looked to suit Bevin. Bevin was able to ride away and stay ahead of our group over the top by a handful of seconds to take 2nd place which put him only 1 second down behind race leader Dyball. The latest feature from Strava to automatically upload files from a garmin device via a smartphone came in very handy when we had a couple of hours transfer between stages. I was busy analysing the race data and talking numbers most of the time to some unimpressed teammates. There was a general consensus from the team, however, that the racing was hard, and everyone seemed to be hitting some big numbers.
Stage 4 was the most exciting stage of the tour and my most enjoyable moment in a race to date. (Keeping in mind that I haven’t been racing for too long.) Only 15 riders finished in the front group, and Bevin was dropped about halfway up the final climb Gunn’s Plain from the lead group with 30km’s till the finish. I had to push just over 400 watts for 10 minutes to get over this KOM with the front couple, and it was easily the most painful section of the whole tour. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do in this situation. Having 4 Avanti riders and a few Drapac guys in the bunch, there was the possibility that the group would power on and Bevin would never make contact. If i dropped out for him too, we could have lost all three riders from the group. Bayly had dropped out the back of the group to go and help him, and I drifted towards the back of the bunch to see how far back they were. Stu Shaw had spoken to me about how effective it is to dangle at the back of the group and then drop out the back and help for the last couple of hundred meters. You should watch the video highlights (@3:09) to see how absolutely ineffective I was at trying to do this. (LOL). They made contact again, and for the remaining 25km’s Bayly and myself rode the front keeping things together for the finish and managed to control the proceeding attacks till the finish. Bevin went on to claim the stage win in a bunch sprint coming from nowhere to pass Lachie Norris on the line! This put us into the leaders jersey for the start of stage 5.
Stage 5 didn’t have any significant climbs but it was a shorter stage and this meant attacks were plentiful. Lots of pressure was thrown at us particularly during the start while dangerous breakaways were trying to form. The stage went on to highlight the depth of our little team as we once again went to the front to control the race, ensuring the breakaway including two Avanti rider didn’t get too far up the road. Once again having Shaw on the team to give directions was invaluable and we managed to ride smartly to ensure we still had riders left over the top of the final climb to bring it home for the finish. We lost contact with Shaw, James Hepburn and Sam “dobby the house elf” Dobbs over the last climb who had been doing lots of work all day, and the remaining 5 of us were able to ensure the break away was caught. CharterMason also helped chip in to protect their U21 young riders jersey for Nicholas Katsonis since VIS rider Ryan Cavanagh was up the road in the break. Bevin went on to also take this stage victory in a bunch sprint, giving him back-to-back stage wins and extending his lead on the overall jersey with some more time bonuses. It caught Greg Henderson’s attention.
There was still a chance to lose the jersey during the 54km stage 6 crit in Devenport, but everything stayed status quo in the top end of GC by the finish. Our work was done and we had won the Tour of Tasmania for 2014! Personally I was very happy to consolidate 7th overall while still helping to protect our yellow jersey, and Bayly remained in 10th overall. The team also finished 2nd in the teams classification, 9 seconds down on Avanti. It was also great to see the KOM won by Josh Berry from Cellarbrations Racing Team. I think that further highlights some of the strength in the smaller teams that raced this year’s event. It was also pointed out to me that no jersey was won by a continental or pro-continental team.
The Tour of Tasmania has taught me so much and it’s been my favourite week all year with the team. I’d even say it was more enjoyable than the Thailand training camp we had in December last year. We went off to celebrate our win with a burger and some beers at the Salamanca Market that evening before catching the flight back to Melbourne. Thanks for the shout Paddy! It was a great way to cap off a really good week of racing…
Thanks for reading,