Wow! What a day, the crowds on Willunga Hill were absolutely amazing and the riders put on a performance to match. For so early in the Pro-Tour season it was just a fantastic race of a million stories. Lance's comeback, the Lance/George link, Alby's amazing win (after 11 years of trying), Rabobank's efforts at keeping Brownie in the mix, the young guns from around the world showing their hand and the amazing efforts of Jack Bobridge....what a race.
My day started early again. I was so sore after my efforts this week, I had already clocked up 720km but still had the Time Trial to go so I picked up my buddy and headed for the start. I decided not to use the old Cervelo tri bike as I hadn't been on it in such a long time and the course was on an undulating, exposed and dead road so i don't think it would have made much difference to me over 25km. I practiced aero positions in my warm up reconn of the course and my body was telling me that it wasn't keen...my brain was also going through it's post testo jab hormonal Hermann's Head but as soon as I was balanced on the start line i got in my zone.
There was a three minute gap in front of me due to a couple of no shows and I had riders at one minute intervals behind. At the 6km turnaround I realised that this wasn't going to be my day....I couldn't get my HR above 150 and was chugging along like puffing billy so pushing big gears was out of the question and i had to revert to spinning. The guys behind were all gaining on me (we did a figure eight loop) but I wasn't going to give up. At the 18km turnaround the gaps were now more similar to how we'd left the starting gate so i clicked down a couple of notches for the last stretch and pushed hard.
I made the finish line with an average of 38km/hr...I'd been hoping to crack 40 but I was spent and in so much muscle pain I knew I needed to get off and stretch ASAP or I'd seize so I rode straight back to my car without a warm down. Sadly I made a total dick of myself in the carpark when my front wheel found a patch of soft sand and I catapulted over the handlebars with such force that I buckled both front and back Dura Ace Carbon wheels....I think I may have bust a rib too.
I didn't hang around for the results or presentation as the TDU stage five was due to start down the bottom of the hill in less than half an hour so we headed via the KOM to get a squizz at them passing through Willunga on the first lap. My wheels were so buckled that I had to let both brakes right out to ride so the trip down Willunga hill was fun, especially as it was already getting crowded with fans waiting for the two ascents by the Pro-Tour riders that would probably decide the race some two hours later.
I made Willunga in time to see the first breakaway of the day which was being driven by Jack Bobridge and had nearly two minutes on the chasing peleton.
The crowd at Willunga was huge and the pubs were tempting but I was intent of heading down the beach to get a feel of how the race was panning out and some good photos. I rode solo into a stiff headwind down one of those straight roads that never seems to end after the peleton had passed through. Everyone on bikes seemed to be coming back the other way to get a good spot on the hill but I got down to the beach with enough time to give the legs a saltwater revival for the trip back up the mountain...i think I had a bit of a Nana nap too but was rudely awakened by the Police siren signalling the impending arrival of the riders. Aldinga beach is spectacular on a quiet Sunday arve, add the carnival atmosphere and the colour of 130 bikes and you have photos like this...
this was the lead group who had obviously ridden hard to keep the Peleton at bay just prior to the second sprint...but the Peleton were closing and chasing hard.
being driven by Alby Davis's Quickstep team and a couple of Basque kiddies making a name for themselves and enjoying the sun.
I had to get my legs going to get ahead of them and make a spot up the first ascent of Willunga Hill that I had picked as a possible breakaway point. Luckily the headwind that had made that road seem so long made 40km/hr up the 2% seem comfortable. I had enough time to get a beer and a sausage sandwich on the way up the Hill but my vantage point had been taken by a strange group of TDU followers. I'd never seen this many people on this part of the hill before, it was amazing. Usually it's hotter and there's not much shade, but this year there were also those new to watching a KOM...I think most of them will be further up the hill next year :-)
At this point one of the Katusha boys, Klimov had finally thawed out and was dragging a group that included one of my Cofides mates, Julian El Fares, two UniSA riders Jack Bobridge and Travis Meyer (who have surely secured themselves comfortable future's after their fantastic rides this week). There was also a Caisse D guy, Erviti, one of the Danish kiddies from SexyBank and Bindi from Lampre (we have a pesky weed in Adelaide that produces sticky sharp buds that piss us off and he was sticking to that lead group like a bindi too!!)
The cream were rising in the hard chasing peleton which was already starting to have gaps on the bottom third of the first climb up Willung Hill I have about twenty fantastic pictures of this group going through...I like this one of Adam Hansen doing his job with Michael Rogers the best.
although I do like this one as i think it shows how some of the Europeans underestimated our little mountains....or were training hard perhaps.
I needed another beer after that...the chase group were awesome and Lance was out of the saddle and pushing the big ring as he went past me and looked kind of....like Lance from 2005.....there's no doubt he just loves this shit!! The pub was too full so I got another Sausage sandwich and headed back up to the KOM...I was getting such a buzz riding up but unlike previous years when there's been only ones ascent, people were everywhere and my ride up was a little....here's the link to my crappy one handed weave through the crowds of the last 600M or so....I nearly made the KOM without getting off :-)
I still managed to find a decent spot on the top of the climb to take a shot or two of the Gladiators as they passed through on their second pass...
I promise when I am 50 I will stop acting like a small child!!
Not a bad spot, but once again I missed Lance with the photo lens despite the fact that I got happy snaps of about 120 of the others!! I guess i better put this one in of Moncoutie. I had a discussion yesterday about this man's talents...he has a Doctorate in cycling and many could learn from him....but wouldn't it make the sport so DULL!!
Matty Lloyd overtook him to take KOM points and lead them down the descent home to Willunga but the chasers were doing 105%....especially the Quick Step and Rabobank boys trying to get their sprinters over the top with enough left to chase down the Armstrong, Hincapie, O'Grady, Rogers, JRRG, LLSG et al.
As soon as the green light van went through everyone was off down the hill to the finish line...some walking, some running, lot's riding, some in cars, one guy on roller blades...it was on the brakes the whole way down...which was unfortunate as I didn't feel like given the carbon rims THAT much uneven wear...I didn't take a vid of that one...I'd be arrested!~!
I couldn't get near the finish so picked my spot so as best to get the photo that depicted the TDU 2009. Alby won the sprint into Willunga after every man and his dog had put their names on the trophy in the drag race to the line. Allan Davis had won the 2009 TDU on his eleventh attempt...the only man to have ridden in all eleven and after the shit he's been through over the past few years...stick that up someones bum Fuentes!!!
or maybe Jensy summed up the day...
What a race....and what a day. I had a few more beers and a chat with Stuey's Dad. He was, as usual proud of his boys (Stuey's bro Darren is one of my best mate's and was a feed station man for Saxo this year). Brian's (O'Grady) arms were a little sore from riding on the back of a bike with a chalk-board for a week...but he was looking forward to next year as much as I was.
I made my last trip up Willunga Hill....it was deserted this time but a gutfull of beer, two buckled wheels and an 800km week in my legs prevented a PB (but not by much) and I put my bike on the car and drove home with the windows down and breathed it all in very deeply indeed.
It has been a fantastic week for me. I'm sore as shit, I've missed my hearing aids and my head is buzzing and so tired, I'm still in hormone hell as my body fights back from starvation. I'm $50 up on the week after my winnings but discounting the cost of getting my hearing aids and Carbon wheels fixed....c'est la vie!!
I decided to watch stage 6 from the comfort of my own lounge room with a few mates, lots of beer and the pool at arms length. There's no point in me doing a preview or a review for you guys...it's over OK!! OK...I will make mention of Lance.
It was so amazing to watch what the Lance Effect had on the population of South Australia. It had me in awe and disgusted at the same time. The public paparazzi and the ignorance of the spectating public sometimes spoiled it. 7000 people is way too many to have in a citizens ride without closing the roads to traffic and it was mainly the ones with Livestrong outfits....hold on, we were all wearing Livestrong outfits!! But as we've commeted before, one extra bike on the road instead of a car and one less person dying needlessly of cancer and the job was done!!
He showed me that he was indeed back and loving it and that he could be a force to be reckoned with this year given the right event. I think he will find it hard to win without a dominating team and I don't think he has that.....he could be part of it though. His accelerations up Willunga Hill and on the penultimate lap on the final day proved that he wants it.
I didn't get to meet my hero...indeed he is probably the one person i have the least snaps of in my 2009 collection. I am a bit disappointed in that as I thought we were related and it was a long way for him to come without being able to meet me....but we both had busy weeks.
I'm going to rest up for a couple of weeks before I get my skull drilled into on Feb 12th for my Cochlear Implant....hold on, I'm racing on Tuesday night....and yes, I'm finally up to C grade. I don't think i'll be long in there either and i feel like giving the Ironman another shot if my old body can pace itself for a couple more years.
I know this has been a long post, but i wanted to show you guys how much fun this bloody race is, and how much it meant to me. Lance says he's coming back next year if he's still riding...there's plenty of room on my floor if anyone fancies a decent week or so...they just have to be prepared to go hard...or go home.
OK...last shot...my favourite TDU 2009 picture as voted by me.
How was your day CycleGirl??