When Alaric, King of the Visigoths sacked Rome in 410AD, he needed just three days to lay waste to the fabled Eternal City. Coincidentally, the Stay True Racing strategy for the Northern Combine Three Day Tour was identical, albeit with slightly less emphasis on beheadings and the destruction of culturally significant pottery. With Alaric’s historical example foremost in our thoughts, Peter English and I set forth for the rain soaked parish of Lancefield for Stage One.
My preparation for the tour was less than perfect, having had the preceding week off the bike with a streaming cold which was still in full effect come Saturday morning. The rain and frost which greeted us did not help but we saddled up nonetheless, with three laps of the Lancefield-Newham circuit lying in wait. It’s a flattish circuit, with a few rolling climbs and a fast descent toward the finish. The race unfolded at a rapid pace, aided by a particularly strong field, with Charter-Mason, Lawson Homes, John West and Kosdown all fielding solid teams. With the bunch reluctant to let a break get away, and a lack of significant crosswinds, a bunch kick resulted… with the somewhat scary prospect of a big peleton descending on rain-soaked roads into the very sketchy S-bend corner into the finishing straight… Fortunately,everyone kept it upright, with Luke Padgett of Lawson Homes taking the win. Pete got up for 5th, myself 14th and no time lost.
After consuming my own bodyweight in pasta and chicken, I was confident that my health would be on the improve by Day 2… this was not the be the case, as subsequent events proved. The temperature had dropped to any icy 2 degrees, but the sun came out as we lined up for the fast 7km ITT at an ungodly hour of the morning. Once again, I was astonished not to win this stage as I am a renowned Time Triallist with a proven record of success in this discipline. However, I only managed 7.56 with an average of 45km/h. Mitch Cooper of Charter-Mason won the stage, in a frighteningly quick time of 7.05 with Pete coming in a creditable 8th. Its worth noting that the 3DT organisers chose to ban TT bikes or bar extensions from the stage, which only goes to show how fast some of these guys are against the clock.
After a few hours respite, and a trip to Gourmet Kyneton to sample the local cafe culture, it was time to get back on the bike for Stage 3 – a 70km out and back road race over hilly terrain. A slight tailwind on the outward leg ensured a rapid start. From a personal perspective,this was very much a race to forget – a blistering surge over the KOM at 20km in sent me spiralling horribly into the red zone and I suddenly found myself isolated. A long and lonely road to the finish beckoned. The stage was won by Charter-Mason’s Shannon Johnston, with Pete getting the vote for Mr Consistent in 9th. Luke Padgett became the overnight Maillot Jaune having finished 3rd on the stage.
Another realistic imitation of an episode of Man Vs Food ensued that evening and thence we embarked on Day Three – with the historical precedent set by Alaric promising that the rest of the peleton would kneel before us in submission and let Pete and I ride away to a convincing 1-2 stage victory and overall honours. Unfortunately, the prophecy proved to be false, and instead a tough five laps of the Pastoria circuit ensued,with the small time gaps among the top ten riders ensuring that the stage would be close-fought.
The main break of the day went of Lap 2, with Lawson Homes sending three riders up the road – the tactics were questionable given they had the yellow jersey among their ranks. With a couple of GC contenders in the move, there was some anxiety in the peleton and I went forward to help with the chase. For the remainder of the race it fell to Charter-Mason’s Conor Murtagh, myself and the remainder of the Lawson Homes squad to bring it back. Lawson had a conflict of interest with the possibility of losing the Maillot Jaune if the break succeeded, but a good chance of a stage win with three in the move. Ultimately, they decided to chase, but the hesitancy cost them and despite a rapid pace in the pelo which brought the time gap down from some five minutes to 23 seconds, the break just survived with under-the-radar Vaughan Bowman taking both victory on the Queen Stage and overall honours. The final climb saw several riders launch a brutal attack from the peleton in a last-ditch attempt to catch the escapees, with Budget Forklifts Jason Spencer first from the bunch over the line, closely followed by Shannon Johnson and Pete, who claimed 7th on the stage and netted 8th overall thanks to his consistent placing on every stage. After my epic time loss on Stage 3 I finished well down the overall rankings, but I was happy to have helped Pete maintain a strong position.
Overall, the tour was impressive – the last few years have seen the A Grade field at the 3DT become consistently stronger, with a greater emphasis on teams racing (like it or not, teams racing is the reality in A Grade, whether it is a sanctioned teams event or a supposedly individual race) and more and more domestic teams are sending strong squads to contest the race. The presence of Charter-Mason, StayTrue-Giant, Lawson Homes, John West, Kosdown, African Wildlife Safaris and other notable domestic squads is testament to the quality of this increasingly prestigious event. Well done to the organisers and all the contestants across all grades who made it such a memorable race.
Nadine’s Three Day Tour
Well Will, it may have only taken Alaric, King of the Visigoths three days to sack Rome, but it took me just as long to complete my first tour!
24 hours prior to Stage 1, Bicycles Inc was busy pimping my new ride, the Giant TCR Advanced SL Zero with DI2. After several laps around the block it became evident that my previous Italian Stallion was actually a gelding in comparison. Decision made – new bike and rider was ready for our inaugural 3DT!
Lancefield, the home of Stage 1, welcomed us with a perfect winters day; rain! Words of encouragement came via a call from the other half of our team who was by that stage sipping a hot latte having already completed her training ride. Meanwhile I was struggling to apply enough embrocation to stay warm during the pre race briefing during which I thought it was about to snow! I recall rolling out from the Lancefield Showgrounds, ‘under control’ and then crossing the finishing line. 60km’s later and I wondered what had happened as it was all a bit of a blur. The two loops provided me with an hour and half of quality time to familiarize myself with the new bike and DI2. All in all 5th place was an encouraging start!
Stage 2 was the ITT and fittingly I pulled out the Sunday Skinsuit. The 6.4km stage was over before it began with the fastest time in Women’s A being the 6th fastest overall for the day. A seriously strong ride by Felicity Wardlaw (Torq) whilst for me it was another 5th.
Two hours later Stage 3 at Kyneton began in sunshine! An out and back and up and down 70km course provided several breakaway opportunities. However having attempted a couple without too much success and little support I would just sit in for the remainder of the race and wait for the dash for cash! A fast wind up to the finish and the Giant seemed to find a new gear allowing me to accelerate across the line in 3rd place. This bike is fast!
After a very early night, it was back up to Kyneton on Monday to complete Stage 4. I’m certain I saw the temperature gauge drop to three degrees as we headed through Melbourne’s sun into the Highlands thick fog and frost. The legs were a little weary and even though I was soon back on the wind trainer for a long, slow warm up it would take a while to wake up today! The four lap course contained Mt Baldy, a not so friendly 2.5km lump with an average of 5%. After a slow roll out, a solo attack was made and the courageous rider never seen again! An untimely flat just prior to the first KOM had me chasing back to the group rather than challenging for the much needed bonus points. I rejoined at the start of lap two and was able to ‘chill out’ for the next 20km. With the group still containing all GC contenders, it was again going to come down to the sprint finish. I finally managed to get up the last hill in third place and that would be how we finished across the line. A fourth place finish for the stage and overall GC.
The 3DT was a great experience and encouraging result for only my third race however I’m 4Shaw looking forward to some very welcome company from my Stay True Giant team mate Alison the next time we head to the start line!