Friday, January 25, 2013

Race Report: Mt Taranaki Cycle Challenge 2013

I finished 12th today out of 1,100 starters at the Mt Taranaki Cycle Challenge. I'm very happy with this result, particularly because I was a little disappointed with my race last weekend at Tour de Ranges. I finished with the leading group of 13 cyclists in 3hrs, 40mins and 59 seconds. We covered 147km at an average speed of 39.8kph.

I had not competed in this event before, so I wasn't sure what to expect this morning. From the course profile, the 148km route looked mostly flat to undulating. And, I didn't know who was going to show up: pros, former pros, almost pros, and pros-in-the-making.

The first 40km undulated but the group stayed together (at least 100, maybe 200). Two guys broke away at km 15, but were reeled in about 30km later. They were brave; the race had ~135km to go. 

I expected the attacks to happen somewhere around the 75-100km mark. I was in a strong position (about 15th wheel) when the first real attack occurred at the 90th kilometer. I jumped on the wheel in front of me and held on for dear life. 

The next 15km were hell. I was at my limit, but I desperately wanted to stay in the break. Several guys were dropped by the surges. There was no way I could hold this effort for the remaining 60km.

Eventually we settled into a more manageable pace so I took a headcount: 15 cyclists. Three were from Team Gordon McCauley Training (Auckland), another three from Capital Cycles (Wellington), two from a Tauranga team, and then 7 others wearing various kits including myself. 

We drove a hard pace for most of the final 40km. Our gap was approx 1 minute over the chasing bunch and we worked well together in a rotating paceline to maintain our advantage. 

A handful of brief attacks, mostly led by Team GMC, kept everyone alert. I cramped in my quads and fingers each time I responded. 

Entering the final 2km into New Plymouth, I really hoped I could finish in the top-8. However, we slowed down to ~30kph as everyone tried to position themselves. The sprint opened up just before a sharp left-hand turn with 300 meters to go. It was a sprinter's finish and I cannot sprint. I finished in 12th place. The winner was Stuart Holder of Team GMC.

Overall, I am very happy with my result. I was lucky to get in the break and I think my speed-work over the past 2 months really paid-off.

Thank you to the organizers. The route was safe and well-marshalled. People tell me the route was quite scenic too, as I only got two short glimpses at Mt Taranaki. 

1 comment: