ToMR Stage 3 – Elar Kalda
To fully understand ToMR Stage 3, it’s tactics and how it was raced we need to start from the very beginning. For men’s 1 team the first team time trial was executed perfectly and set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Mark de Castro put up a massive fight. Taking the Division B win on day one (with a bit of luck) was somewhat of a surprise and yet no surprise at all. Then, having had The Element road race season it was quite interesting to approach Stage 2 in Division B from the statistical analysis point of view – who has been strong throughout the season on which races and trying to map their strengths and weaknesses to the “Kandalee Catapult” course.
Andrew Ballam literally simplified and summarised the main objective for Stage 2 with a single sentence: “Ride as hard as we possibly can and hope for the best!” Made sense and so we did. Elar sprinted to fourth, John took an honourable sixth after attacking Kandalee climb and contesting for the KOM, Andrew B. crossed the finish line as the third rider 3 minutes 39 seconds later locking in second place in the Division B classification.
This is how we enter Stage 3. King KOM Race team started to show its true colours by taking maximum points from Stage 2 since two of their riders managed to place themselves between main bunch and Andrew. Their strongest rider was clearly unbeatable whenever the road goes up. The big question in my mind was what can be done to make sure three SPR riders are as close to the front when we hit the last Mur de Hay climb on Stage 3.
Two perspectives emerged – keep the team as close to the front as possible or go with a break. Using WorldTour racing as a guide everyone has probably seen how teams go completely berserk before the major climbs to bring their protected rider to the start of the climb in the best possible position. Every small gap means extra energy spent for the chasers which could be decisive. Another tactic was to try to establish a break, put decent time on the peloton and hope the gap is still present at the finish line. Andrew Lilly was ready to give everything to drive the pace. I was ready to ride as hard as necessary to hold off the attacks and protect John and Andrew B. while hoping to establish a break. Or in other words (from Andrew B. again) ride as hard as possible.
Have to admit and hopefully everyone agrees that this was probably one of the most awesome races amongst “B graders” in recent memory. Assertive, full of attacks with occasional lull moments (to produce more attacking), team tactics and individual heroics. Even one of the female pro’s attacked 🙂 Unfortunately none of the breakaway attempts succeeded. Most of them where quickly brought back by a single King KOM Race team rider. Keeping everyone together was inevitably the best possible outcome for them. But looks like the idea to keep the pace high and keep SPR team close to the front still worked – no one got dropped and everyone was in a good position.
When the road tilts up like Mur de Hay it’s every man for himself! Brutally honest comparison of the fit and agile sportsmen. You know it’s bloody hard when you feel like someone is squeezing your throat and the body is running out of oxygen. Unbelievable how much pain and suffering your body and mind goes through in just 800 meters. History books will mark that Division B win was decided on Mur de Hay climb on that day. SPR Men 1 lost the overall Division B by 1.
SPR Men 1:
- 891 Andrew BALLAM
- 892 Giovanni CARNICELLI
- 893 Mark DE CASTRO
- 894 Craig DENHAM
- 895 Elar KALDA
- 896 Andrew LILLEY