Are in!!! Well done to Watson who raced intelligently for 3rd overall on GC. Excellent effort mate. The C-grade crosswind gutters are calling...
Back to the Newham circuit after a long month, Mills, Perrin and Watson rolled out at the back of the D grade bunch to get a feel for their opposition. Fortunately conditions were more suitable to racing than t
heir previous venture to Newham, although the lack of a hilltop finish was a concern for the only three members of D grade to weigh under 80kg.
After 10km of "racing", one enthusiastic gent broke away, only to be caught 10km later on the first hill of the day. This was the last that D grade saw of the unknown escapee, who burnt 3 days of candles in their attack, causing them to get caught, fall out the back and DNF. After testing the legs up the hills, the bunch was forgiven for thinking that the KOM was not being contested this year, until they past the checkpoint in the big ring on the only downhill of the course.
On the last lap, Mills and Watson moved to the front, while a concerned Perrin slid out the back. Despite being in a good position initially in the final kms, poor positioning and an errant wheel chop from Sunbury put Mills and Watson on the back foot, missing out in the bunch sprint.
Stage: Mills 13th (1:49:38), Perrin 24th (1:56:15), Watson 11th (1:49:28)
GC: Mills 13th (+0:14), Perrin 24th (+6:51), Watson 11th (+0:04).
With TT bars ready to go, Mills, Perrin and Watson were ready to go. Mills' downtube shifters proved to be a huge tactical advantage, as he never shifted gears and powered first of the block to a strong time.
Perrin lost a significant portion of time after forgetting that he was in fact in Kyneton to race. With little to no urgency, he rolled to the start only to realise that his time had in fact already started.
Last of the bunch, Watson posted a strong time over the first 3km, before his impressive upper body strength wrenched the clip on TT bars from their position in his cockpit, rendering him a blubbering mess.
Stage: Mills 8th (7:54:80), Perrin 23rd (8:35:21), Watson 10th (7:59:58)
GC: Mills 13th (+46.3), Perrin 24th (8:03:07), Watson 11th (+41.1).
Keen to build on their experiences from the TT, Mills Perrin and Watson rolled out on a new circuit determined to make amends for yesterday's poor showings. The highlight of Perrin's day unfortunately came early, when he was snapped at the front of the bunch holding hands with the excitable Mills. This was all that was seen of Perrin by the bunch until the end, after he rolled through behind the bunch after a long solo effort into the wind.
Watson, feeling left out of the photographic love, decided to show the field that KOM was up his ally. Unfortunately, it was up the ally of two others who he dragged up the hill and subsequently reached the checkpoint first. Mills and Watson drove the bunch home into the headwind, splitting the bunch into two. Although Mills couldn't hold on to the bunch as the speeds picked up over the last 10kms, Watson was able to hold onto a wheel to sprint to a satisfying third and receiving a time bonus in the process.
Stage: Mills 15th (2:08:34), Perrin 22nd (2:20:04), Watson 3rd (2:07:12)
GC: Mills 15th (2:24:06), Perrin 22nd (21:16), Watson 6th (+0:57:1).
Keen to build on his 6th place, Watson started the 3 laps on the front of the bunch, keen to test the legs of the other riders in the bunch. Unfortunately for Mills a flat on the first corner ended his day and his tour, while Perrin sat on the back of the bunch trying to conserve energy in light of the first climb. The bunch was content to let breaks go, with the overall GC leader seemingly unaware that it was his job to manage the breakaway. With the rider in 5th place in the GC contesting KOM, Watson had to be alert on every pass of Baldy Hill to make sure that they did not attack after winning KOM points.
2 laps in saw an aggressive attack (from the far right of the road) from a rider low down in the standings, which put the bunch on the front foot, much to the annoyance of Watson who was about to attack himself. After catching the breakaway rider 5km before the final climb of the last lap, Watson moved to the front of the neutralised bunch, to watch the other GC contenders. A final mexican standoff proved too frustrating for Watson, who jumped at the base of Mount Baldy after another rider asked "who has tired legs?". The attack proved to be pivotal to the GC, as only the leader and 5th overall were able to remain near Watson, who took the final KOM points on the way to the top of Mt Baldy.
Despite out climbing the other two riders, Watson was pipped at the line in the final sprint, finishing with third and opening up enough of a break over the straggling bunch to move into 3rd overall in the GC. Once again Perrin displayed great courage, completing the course behind the bunch, in the wind to finish the tour.
Stage: Mills dnf, Perrin 18th (2:10:30), Watson 3rd (1:58:15)
GC: Mills dnf, Perrin 19th 6:35:24 (+33:44), Watson 3rd 6:02:40 (+1:00).
(Photos courtesy of B. Mangano)