The Tour…. Well, our Tour. This year SPR entered 6 teams in the Tour of Margaret River – 3 Womens and 3 Mens teams. With more changes than a petrified chameleon, we settled on final team’s only days out from travel.
It would have been hard to miss due to the saturation on cycling social media, but we were treated with appearances by current and former Pro riders such as local boy Luke Turbo Durbridge, Robbie McEwen, as-good-as-a-local Emma Pooley, commentator extraordinaire Matt Keenan, Rabo Liv rider Moniek Tenniglo, and the incomparable Marianne Vos. Just……. Wow. It was special.
Our teams had some deft old hands, some returning for another crack at Marg’s and a few brand spanking new racers on board. There’s nothing like a three day, 200+km stage race to dip your toe into racing, eh?
Something different for this year’s ToMR Race Reports. We thought we’d get a few perspectives from different teams on the individual stages and compile them. From our racers, their ToMR 2016 stories.
Stage 1 – Team Time Trial – Kat Buckley, Team SPR W2
Now the pain of the tour has subsided from my glutes and quads, only the mental scars remain (read: memories from a truly awesome weekend of riding bikes, pushing power and mateship).
In the lead up to the tour our team did a lot together. We sweated together, we had numerous coffees, meals, chats, interval sessions, recovery sessions, hill repeats – you name it and we pretty much made it into a Tour of Margaret river training thing. The beauty of all this was that when it came to team time trialing we had a pretty good idea of how we would work together.
Team trialing is about working efficiently and almost in unison to get the best possible outcome for your team. TTT works best if you have practiced in a variety of environmental conditions together and can learn/adapt how to read the wind and road conditions. After all, you are only as strong as your weakest rider.
The TT course was two laps of a relatively flat course with a few left hand turns through the scenic region of Cowaramup. This year’s race rules stated that the 5th rider to cross the line would determine which category the team would race in. Meaning you could drop a 6th rider if they were weighing you down. However this would be a call the race leader/rider could make for our team.
On race day there were patches of sunshine through imminent rain clouds and a slight southerly that would cause chaos to some teams. Our team rode smart and we rode strong. Once our team was on course we found our rhythm early and managed to stick to a decent speed over the whole course. The first lap is always an interesting one. As a team (that is full of women with a competitive edge) we discussed the possibility of a negative split. That did not happen. For us, the first lap was slightly quicker. But one can try.
As a team you anticipate a few things will happen, the good, the bad and the shoot me now moments. The only memorable thing that did happen was our race leader politely reminding the team upon the last climb after the round-about “LADIES THIS IS A RACE, UP UP UP!’
A few thoughts that were running through my mind during the race were: why did I choose this st*pid sport and race? WTF?! [race leader name here who shall remain anonymous] I am at my heart rate maximum. FFS I hope I get a flat and fall on my face. Please note: Looking back at my race data I can say I was working hard during the TTT, all perfectly normal dark thoughts on a TT event.
To sum up the Tour of Margaret River, it’s joyfully painful. Give it a shot you’ve got so much to gain. The friendships you form, the determination and commitment you dedicate to the training and the race and the limits you push yourself too are fantastic.
Post Stage 2 SPR Squad Dinner
Stage 2 – Nannup 102km RR – Doug Flanagan, Team SPR M2
Lining up for the start of Stage 2 was a whirlwind of excitement and nerves. “Is 3 gels and a banana enough?”; “Hang on, I’ve never done this before, how to I peel and eat a banana while gasping for breath in the peloton?” Disappointment, I’m standing next to Marianne Vos and I didn’t have my phone for the obligatory selfie. She’s so awesome.
We shuffle to the front. Then, GO!
Liam Donley takes the lead and charges off like a bat out of hell! Was this team plan? Did we have a plan? Liam WTF!? CHASE! The only race plan I had, was to try to be on the front before the climbs to try and get away, oh and not blow up. As the first climb came into sight we saw Division 6 spread all the way up the hill. ATTACK!
We overtook most of Division 6 by the top of the hill, and then while people were recovering over the crest, we kept chasing everything in sight. A few of the Division 7 riders had come with us, so we had to keep pushing. Once we felt we’d hit the front group of Division 6 we sat in to recover for a bit, even had a bit of a fun ol’ chat to our Division 7 competition. The comradery was fantastic. Then the attacks started. Game on. Not wanting to be in a group for the next climb, we gave chase to everything. Is that good race craft? We didn’t know, but it was a truck load of fun! I think people were just more interesting in having fun creating havoc than getting away.
At the start of the next main climb at 39km in, we saw Division 5, this gave renewed energy to attack up the hill and make as many places as we could. Shattered. Everyone was a mess, a mix of many Divisions coming together, all glad the main climbs are over. Attack! Get to the next group in front.
It now all becomes somewhat of a blur – shut up legs, don’t get dropped, cover the break. There is no more peloton. Where are my team mates? Keep pushing.
Somewhere around the 60km mark we catch up with Carlos and Meghan, not easily mind you. Then we hang on for dear life as Carlos relentlessly powers along rounding people up. I’d burnt my candle at this point so it was all I could do to hang on, and wonder what the fire truck I was thinking when I signed up for this, tried to stop staring at the odometer and attempt to look at the scenery. Are we there yet? These rolling hills are relentless. When Carlos takes a break off the front, no one can match his turns, and most don’t want to try.
“1km to go”. Everyone finds renewed energy at the thought of the finish line. My race craft sucks, I find myself on the front, oh well, dig in and SPRINT! Finally over the finish the line and almost fell of the bike, I felt great relief and satisfaction, knowing that I had given the race everything that I could.
We tried to thank all the spectators, and encourage anyone we passed, such a great atmosphere. Really well organised event.
Most. Fun. Ever. When is the next TOMR? TAKE MY MONEY!
Stage 3 – Leeuwin 58km RR – Nancy Sawitchaya Tippaya, Team SPR W3
It was a beautiful day, lovely weather, no rain and not that windy. I was expecting a good result from our team at this stage, and we might be able to finish together. We started from the gravel road which was great fun, and the rolling pace was quite gently increased. We all managed to jump from the back to the middle of the group after the starting line, except Rebecca who could jump to the front and joined with NBCC team, while the rest of us stuck in the peloton.
The pace was around 35kph-40kph only because of surging, heavy braking and surprisingly there was no breakaway. I remember I did one little breakaway on my own to see Rebecca just to check she was not working alone. Then that was when I ended up dragging the peloton! After a few minutes later and I could see that she was absolutely fine, so I pulled off slightly to the left. She kept telling me to save the energy for the next climb but whenever I slowed down other riders also slowed down too hahaha! Few kilometres later, we turned right into the real undulating course and again, there were some tactics in here. No one wanted to break away, and no one wanted to keep that momentum after coming down every hill (which I certainly needed!). Lots of half-wheeling and I felt that there was only a little space between two riders. I really enjoyed the first 45kms until the Boranup climb.
It was such magnificent scenery around here. I pushed harder, pulled harder at this hill to catch the front rider but ended up having terrible cramps on both quadriceps (especially the lower part), and my left hamstring was terribly hurt now (I got this after Nannup stage). I dropped from the peloton and stay with another two riders. One of them told me to keep drinking, and I did, but that pain was still there. I wish I could have something I can swallow and no more pain. Another epic bike handling was I did myself riding on a gravel side when I felt the second round of pain. I definitely just completed one of the skills for the Cyclocross. There was only less than 10kms left … “Do anything, never say die” (thanks, David Menarry for this quote). I kept dragging myself and finally crossed the finish line (unfortunately I could not sprint which I always love to do!). I stopped at the paramedic for a moment. Thanks to Sarah Fitton, Tracey Hassell to help me back to the tent and take care of me. Thank you, my team, everyone in SPR tent, who helped to lift me up, gave me all sugar, food and water. Big thanks to Cathi Dixon and Fiona Williams for the great advice and pain relief massage. Everyone made an excellent effort at this stage, and more importantly, we all enjoyed the ride.
So, back to us. SPR represented so well this weekend. You racers should be proud, as should the club. Again, Cathi Dixon appeared for pre and post massages, one P Mah who was everywhere at all times, partners/husbands/wives that assisted – or in the case of Sam and Liam TRUE Soigneurs – all your efforts are massively appreciated. And we had controversy, with el Prez called up for an SPR breach of rules – an alleged illegal team support car driven by “Some Guy With a Moustache – it must be Greg Murray” (it wasn’t – I was racing!).
It’s impossible to congratulate Brendan Morrison and Co. enough for being able to pull off the appearance of Marianne Vos and Moniek Tenniglo. I had the treat of riding with Marianne in our Division, pace setting and swapping turns through the first half of the Nannup stage – possibly the coolest km I’ve spent on a bike. For me, it was also my first racing since February, after my quiet year off the bike with a mending elbow, and on a new rig, AND racing alongside Rebecca in only her second race. And that’s what makes this event so special – everyone can have a crack alongside some of the best in the world. Anyone up for ToMR 2017?