Thursday, December 9, 2010

End of year win!

You know it’s a big day when the weetbix you eat truckloads of every other day just won’t go down the hatch….ask Bex, we do a separate shopping trip each week just for weetbix and milk! A big sign that I was quite nervous heading into the Festival of Cycling this year, and with good reason, it’s always hard going to a race with a title to defend.

I knew this year the riders were going out there to beat me and with a bunch of young talent in the South Island and a generally strong field at the moment I had to be on top of my game to win.

The course was slightly different from last year with a huge climb near the start which traversed across to the top of Rapaki. The climb was mainly on grass which made for a slightly dead climb and some sections being super steep! I got a small gap about half way up which I held on to and slowly increased to the top of Rapaki to take the King of the Mountains competition and from there I slowly gained more time out of NZ U19 Champion Richard Anderson and the consistent Mark Leishman with a few young guns on his wheel.

With one more descent to go I had a lead of roughly 40 seconds which I thought would be plenty to get to the finish on my own but…that was soon to be gone when a storming talented Brad Hudson and Leishman appeared out of nowhere on the tar seal nearing Sumner. With my solo plan gone I had to start using my road racing knowledge and get myself into good position for the sprint, I was pretty confident I could out sprint both Brad and Mark but when Brad opened up for the sprint I had to quickly get my wheels turning to roll over him, I did just that with a few metres to spare to take the win. This year’s win was just as exciting as last years which was my first race for Bergamont. The perfect race to launch our new team kit and name - Bergamont/Endura. Endura Clothing have jumped on board and kitted us out in awesome gear that matches the Team Bergamonts nicely. My cycling wardrobe is looking pretty cool right now!

Wicked to see and hear all the supporters at the top of Rapaki and then as we criss crossed over the road sections….this race has to be one of the best for spectators, Bex had the supporter thing dialed in on her road bike, managing to get out to Gebbes to see the road race leaders challenging the King of the Mountains, then up Coopers and over to Rapaki to be there when I popped out, continuing along the summit road for each entry and exit and then down to the finish line in time to see me take the honours!

One more race to go and that was the Elite Mens Criterium in the centre of Christchurch city, going along Oxford Terrace, a perfect location for a crit and the crowd is always in full swing. The mens field was pretty jam packed with class as always. I love this race and once the gun went to start I was right in there doing what I love to do and that is race fast, a break went early and with Team Pure Black having control over everyone it was quite hard to get anything done. I tried along with a few other guys to get across which eventually pulled us within touching distance to the leaders. 3 laps to go I drove out of the bunch and got a small gap which got me pretty close but then over top of me a few riders rocketed away and with tiring legs I wasn’t able to respond, that was the move I needed to be in and I knew it. There wasn’t much I could do know so I rolled in with the bunch to get 15th with only a few more actually finishing the race which was incredibly fast.

I was really happy with my performance, I certainly haven’t done the amount of racing the other guys have done and with most of the guys in the top-15 being full-time or near enough full-time bike riders I had a pretty solid race. Next year I will come back a lot more prepared and try reach the podium that I stood on in 2008 with a 5th placing.

I’ve had 3 podiums in 3 years of racing at the Festival of Cycling so keen to keep up that momentum next year! A fantastic weekend and not all hard work on the bike…..enjoyed a few ciders in the sun at Sticky Fingers both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and the chance to catch up with family and friends round Christchurch. It’s on the calendar for 2011 already!