Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Three Day Tour - Stage 3

Stage 3 warm(ish) but very windy conditions met riders at the third stage of the tour. The legs felt ok but slightly heavy from the morning's efforts. Some nerves about how the afternoon would pan out with none of the TDR riders having raced the Sutton Grange course previously.


Stage 3 was the Reedesdale out-and-back circuit comprising lots of climbing and descending with a decent climb on the return leg up out of the Sutton Grange valley. Presumably again a day for a climbing sprinter with a very strong headwind to reduce the chances of a break getting away from an anxious peloton.

Rolling out. Flag from lead car comes in. Racing.

Two riders immediately attack up the road. Not given as much leeway today, the two were kept just in sight with the peloton keen to limit energy consumption. Sunbury riders, to their credit, had been very aggressive thus far in the tour and again took control of pace-making and attacking. Several riders went up the road only to be reeled in soon after. Duggan had decided to do some of the chasing around the mid-point of the race, and led the peloton around the u-turn jointly with the race leader. This however, was a poorly timed work effort as the road went immediately uphill.

Staying on the back once again by the skin of his teeth, Duggan clawed his way back in and moved to the front of the pack to recover. D'alfonso, as usual, was happy tapping away on the pedals up and down the rolling hills, spending alot of time up the front. With no one else willing to work, and no break, the pace reduced to a very leisurely 18km/h at times! We descend into the Sutton Grange valley and the racing starts again. The ascent starts and it's soon very clear the Duggan is in trouble. Just not able to produce the speed and power of the better climbers he slowly slides back.

Setting a sustainable pace, Duggan managed to round up a few of the other riders who had gone out two hard by the top of the climb. Looking up the road it's chaos. Two distinct bunches had formed from a major split and noone was hanging around to enjoy the scenery. Duggan immediately got on the gas in an effort to get back on. Rounding up another dropped rider, the two pulled turns and gained some ground before the other rider called it a day and was dropped. Duggan persisted, going way into the red and getting to within 30m of the group before being overtaken by a 5 strong freight train of big diesels that had been dropped on the climb.

One last kick. Gets a wheel. Back on. Safety in the bunch. Recovery time.

10km to go. Duggan zips up the jersey only to get a "Oh-oh. Zipping up for the big sprint" sarcasm bullet come from one of the diesels dropped on the climb. A sly shake of the head. Actually, yes. That's exactly what I'm going to try! With D'alfonso safely ensconced in the first 5 wheels and presumably feeling fine for a sprint, Duggan found himself a good wheel for the upcoming sprint. The pace rose in the last kilometre which was straight as an arrow. Lots of chopping and fighting for wheels made it pretty hairy. One rider around the outside, over the white line. Comes back in. Shoulders D'alfonso, who subsequently moves drastically inside, right into the path of Duggan and his Brunswick wheel who were approaching very rapidly. Duggan and wheel lose some momentum. D'alfonso kicks. Get's 6th. Duggan bunch. Both riders happy with the day's efforts.

Glad to be home safe but pondering what might have been... again...

Stage: Duggan 12th (1:59.22), D'alfonso 6th (1:59.22)
GC: Duggan (+2:49), D'alfonso (+2: 28)

(Photos courtesy of B. Mangano)

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