Friday, March 15, 2013

Race Report: Stage 2 Tour of Northland

Today was a 82km stage from Dargaville to Opononi. My goal was to make up some of the time I lost yesterday by hanging on to a strong group. 

Within a few minutes of the stage start, a small group of 3-4 attacked. And, over the next 20km a couple of other small groups managed to break-off. Unlike my typical “open” and “age-group” races, we would never see these elite riders again. 

I was in the main peloton (of ~60) until the first climb at 29km. I got into a group of about 20 and we opened a gap. We continued working together through the next climb at 40km. A 12km climb began at 53km. Its not steep; 2-3%, but its long. 

Halfway up the climb, my chain fell off when I shifted to the smaller chainring. I lost about 15 seconds, but that was it. I couldn’t catch my group. Now, I was riding solo. 

I gave chase for a few minutes, but it was futile. I looked behind me expecting the next group to catch me. No one was there so I kept going. 

It wasn’t until 78km that the next group caught me. I rode 20km solo. I was caught on the last climb before the finish. It was about 800 meters in length and well into double digit gradients. I was passed by 6 or so and couldn’t keep hang on. We descended into Opononi but I was really done, physically and mentally, at that point. 

So, I lost more time today due to an unlucky mechanical. I finished today’s stage in 57th place, 16 minutes after the winner, and 8 minutes after the group I was riding with when the chain fell off. I am disappointed, but that’s bike racing. 

On GC, I am in 53rd place and already 26 minutes down.

Tomorrow looks like we’ll have a strong headwind all the way to the East Coast.

Stage 2 winner Mike Northey

Mason Spiers (left)

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