30/04/2011 - Northern Combine Race 1: Pastoria Scratch
Well it was a cracking day for racing at Kyneton for the first road race of the season for TDR. Met by sunshine and light winds, the nerves settled after signing in and we rolled out to the start. A big turnout meant that D grade was split into two fields with about 30 riders in each.
After receiving race instructions we set out in two straight lines and a cracking pace of 22 km/h. What seemed like a vast number newbies in the peloton made it difficult to find a good (safe) wheel to sit on. After fighting through the field, TDR moved to the front to ensure they were involved in anything that went. Just to show the peloton how confident he was of the win, D'alfonso dropped his bidon in the first 5 kilometres, inundating Duggan who was on his wheel in watered-down coke.
The peloton held together right up until the first ascent of the largest climb of the day. D'alfonso and Duggan had made their way to the front of the group to assess who was strong. The pressure was brought on slowly by a few riders although the pace wasn't blistering. As the front group crested, it became apparent that most of the bunch had been put under a significant amount of pressure. About 15 riders were away including D'alfonso and Duggan. Watson made the unfortunate mistake of holding a bad wheel for a little too long on the climb, and consequently got caught in no-man's-land in between the bunch and the break. He would spend the remainder of the race here time-trialling to the finish. A super strong ride!
Another lap around and a similar result on the climb. A few more were popped out the back, with the TDR boys looking like some of the stronger riders. A quick mid-peloton conference had a plan set out with D'alfonso to do less pace-making work and rest for a big effort on the final climb, with Duggan to pull turns but hope for a bunch sprint with a lead-out from D'alfonso if he was able to get over with the climbers.
Final lap was a little more eventful with a few accelerations and some chit-chat between the break riders, some unsuccessfully trying to convince others to do some work. Duggan led the group to the final climb riding tempo, hoping that the attacks wouldn't come until later up the hill. Three riders went up the road including a rider who hadn't seen the front of the group all day and D'alfonso who was looking strong. Three became two as one of the riders was shelled about 100 metres from the crest, with Duggan not far behind.
D'alfonso rode an extremely smart finish, allowing the other rider to expend all of his energy trying to create a break on the summit and riding in the wind whilst D'alfonso sat on and waited. With 2 km to go D'alfonso kicked hard and opened up a break of about 30 m, holding the gap to the line time to take the win. Duggan ran out of road and got 4th after chasing hard. Watson placed about 8th with a super strong ride, averaging the same speed as riders in the break!
Looking forward to the criteriums at Calder Park this week!