I had to get up at five to get down to the start of the ride...there were over 5000 riders doing the 161 kms ride (we include the neutral section in our kilometreage total) so it pays to get registered and lined up early to get a good crack at early open road. It was still warm at the start, probably as warm as most of you dudes ever get at about 28.C so there was no shivering waiting for the start. My plan was to ride easy...no going into even the orange zone as I was determined to race hard in the Masters Crit race that night. We started moving off at 0600 and even though I was up near the pointy end of the field I crossed the Start line at 0613. There was clear road after about 10 minutes and so i started moving from pack to pack until I found my speed.
The KOM came early...a double whammy of Fox Creek after already climbing up the gorge. It was a still morning so progress was easy...even on the steep bits my HR was staying below 80% and I was passing people with ease.
The clear road is from passing not being passed...I actually don't remember anyone passing me from the start to finish. Just as we got to the second feed station my cam batteries went all sad but with a tail-wind that was picking up strength the packs I was joning were sitting in the mid to high 40's so in the back pocket it stayed. I must say that we had great conditions...the wind picked up as the morning progressed but I never remember it being a cruel wind. I made the finish in about 4 and a half hours riding (about an hour slower than the pros did it later in the day.
I managed to score a lift back to Adelaide and we stopped on by the Feed Station at Strathalblyn on the way home for some more food, a stretch and a chance to see whether Lance took a better line than me through the corner.
Too tight man!!!
By the time I got back to Adelaide there was barely time to change over wheels on the Trek and head down to my Crit race. The weather had significantly warmed up by the afternoon and the sun was hot. I was racing Masters in a combined C,D and E grade and made sure I was in the correct start group this time.
It was an L shaped course, fast wide corners and only one small section into the now strong Southerly wind (Glad that arrived later rather than earlier on our trip South this morning.) But there were about thirty in my race which made the corners seem very narrow sometimes. I took some photo's of the Women's race after mine.
There are more pics on my Facebook.
In a twenty minute Crit on a tight circuit you have to make sure you're up near the front all the time and I tucked into around eighth place as we lapped. Each time someone attempted a break it was swallowed up within the lap so I was looking for big legs to get behind. Mine felt surprisingly good...i must remember to do a longer training ride on the mornings before races in future :-) Two laps to go and I surged up to top five but everyone was trying to do the same and it got physical at times trying to protect your spot. I went to the front with over a lap to go, but that was just to see who was serious....they all were dammit and there were still 25 in with a chance as we got the bell. I moved as far back as about 8th on the back straight but out braked several of them on the last corner for the sprint and came out third wheel. Half way down the straight I sensed a fast wheel on my right just as the guy in front of me slowed so i went left down the barriers....but so did the slow guy so I was baulked and just squeezed past him..I just got back on the fast man's wheel as we hit the line...second spot...first loser eh!!
Quite happy with my day's achievements actually!!
Tomorrow is the famed 'Willunga Hill' day, stage 5. My big goal for the day is to find a spot for some SBS airtime for the PDC Limo....look out towards the summit of the climb on the right guys.
I don't think Greipel will be able to hold on. Guys like LLSG, Hincapie, Fothen, Elmiger, Van de Walle and even Luke Roberts are only 30 seconds adrift and HTC have Rogers in that group so they might even work for him if Andre struggles with the pace. If that happens the it looks like Roelandts will wear Ochre tomorrow.