Vie13 National Capital Tour NRS
The 4-stage National Capital Tour in Canberra is Health.com.au-Search2Retain’s first NRS overall (GC) tour win since the teams inception, and I can tell you it was extremely satisfying to contribute towards this outcome. Defending yellow at this level of racing was a new experience for the team but we were excited about the responsibility of taking control at the front end of the race.
Our man Paddy Bevin rode a huge stage 1 ITT to take the stage victory by 15 seconds over Avanti’s time trial specialist Joe Cooper, so we would begin stage 2 wearing yellow.
Stage 2 was the toughest stage of the tour with a hard finish up Honeysuckle Hill. We knew if Paddy could keep his leader’s jersey at the conclusion of this day we would have a really good chance at keeping it for the entire Tour. Our ex. Drapac Professional Cyclist Stu Shaw came in exceedingly handy during this stage as he made sure we all kept a cool head while controlling the front end of the race. Being a local to Canberra he also knew the roads very well and could tell us when it was more effective to ride slightly harder and where we could save energy. His experience in the team really is invaluable!
Things were all back together as we hit the base of Honeysuckle Hill, which starts with a few kilometres of steep sections before flattening off for the second half. Ben Dyball (Avanti) attacked early with Rhys Gillet (AWS) trying to follow, but it was Tim Roe’s (Budget Forklifts) move that caused the biggest reaction. Cam Bayly and myself were able to cover this, and while Tim was asking for someone else to come around and help him out, I sat content in second wheel telling him we weren’t going to help him out with our yellow jersey dangling just out the back of the select bunch.
There was a little more hesitation since nobody counter attacked, and nobody else was willing to come to the front to help Tim out to chase down Dyball. This allowed Paddy time to make contact with the bunch again, while at the same time Avanti’s Mitch Lovelock-Fay attacked off the front. Since Paddy was back in the bunch and the road was now becoming ‘less steep’, Cam and I were able to move to the front and pull hard turns that wouldn’t cause too much grief to Paddy and would allow us to control Lovelock-Fay’s attack while also mitigating any time loss that Dyball still had up the road.
Dyball ended up staying away to take 1st place , 32 seconds ahead of Matt Clarke who took the bunch kick for 2nd followed closely by Tim Roe in 3rd. Most importantly our man Paddy Bevin rolled through in 5th for the stage and maintained his leaders jersey by 12 seconds over Dyball!
Stage 3 was a fairly flat and fast 80km road stage that was relatively straightforward. There were no changes to the top end of GC with most riders in the bunch finishing with the same time. Stu Shaw spent most of this stage on the front and didn’t ask for any help to make sure the rest of us kept fresh to help out during stage 4! Its fair to say he has a very good excuse for being tired.
Stage 4 was a tough little crit held in front of Parliament house that involved 50 laps of a short rectangle circuit that included a punchy hill on the start/finish line that could be used as a launch pad for riders to attack. I struggled initially to get up to the front of the race with my teammates, and once I got up there I clipped my pedal on a corner and came down. Fortunately, I was all right and only lost some skin. unfortunately, I ripped my skinsuit. After taking a lap out I found myself back in the middle of the bunch and had to make my way back up to my teammates.
With about 10 laps to go a few dangerous Avanti and Budget riders attacked up the hill, but with five S2R riders still on the front we were able to make sure nobody dangerous to the overall GC could get away. Even Paddy Bevin marked one move himself when he thought it was most dangerous when Joe Cooper went off the front. But once that settled down the whole S2R team gathered themselves on the front end again and went about setting a solid pace. With a lap to go we still had control on the front with most of our riders, which allowed Al Donohoe to enter the final corners in first position with Paddy on his wheel. They took the final corners very quick and couldn’t be passed in the sprint finish to take out 1st and 2nd on the stage!
We hadn’t spoken about getting on the podium on this stage as we were completely committed to protecting our GC position… So to finish with another podium for the tour was a great surprise!
I honestly don’t think we could have asked for a better outcome from the weekend. Thanks to the team and sponsors for a fantastic weekend racing.
Lastly, for those of you who enjoy looking at data, here’s a look at my time spent in various power zones from both stage two and four. I’m sure you can have a guess as to which stage these belong to. As you would expect they’re quite different…
Next up is Tour of Tasmania starting with a tough ITT up Mt Wellington next Tuesday. We’ll be heading down south with another very strong team so I’m excited to see how this week will unfold. Let’s see if Health.com.au-Search2Retain can continue with some more good results!!
Thanks for reading,
Paddy retains his jersey after stage 2
Cornering during the stage 4 crit
Rolling back home after a successful tour
Team Mechanic Justin enjoying a beer
Only a few Km’s from Canberra’s CBD…