Ask RIDE…Tour Down Under: Stage 5
Stage 5 – windy conditions, a climb that splits the peloton, and a top 5 within 15 seconds all from different teams. Could the scene have been set any better? It’s called the Queen stage and it deserves its reputation as the stage of the Tour Down Under. By the 5km mark the peloton was completely strung out and there were some faces already showing the strain of racing under a hot sun.
Thanks to Shimano, I had a spot on the side of the road at Penny’s Hill Winery that would be passed by the peloton five times. I saw the riders come through twice and after a bit of lunch, I got on my bike and headed for Willunga Hill. After riding out to Maclaren Flats with a bunch of about 30, the road up didn’t show any mercy – even on fresh legs. It is the pinch at the start that hurts because the gradient is manageable after that but the initial hit really slows you down… the damage is done and you just have to cope.
Some come to Willunga thinking that because the climb is not hors categorie that the pro’s breeze up it – I did when I first came. Just look at their faces. They are in pain, and today’s course and conditions didn’t allow for riders to sit in. Seeing competition that takes such a severe toll on the top riders in the world is what we were there for – cycling being what it is, they suffer as much as we do…except they are still pumping up the climb!
Angel Madrazo who replaced Arthur Vichot this year as the ‘supported’ rider by Australian fans was up on the climb today and looks like he is enjoying it!
While this year I only got to ride out, I saw plenty of cyclists riding back to Adelaide with the pro’s. Last year, my mate and I tried to stay with some Omega Pharma Lotto riders who were pulling some of the most outrageous traffic manoeuvres I have seen. We managed to stay with them and enjoy the time spent following their wheels.
Tomorrow is going to be another great day of racing. Don’t think that victory is assured for Cameron Meyer if can stay in the bunch for the sprint to the line. But, with two intermediate sprint points (victory on these gets riders a 3 second bonus) and the final sprint (10 second time bonus for victory), Garmin-Cervelo will need to take control of the peloton so that Matthew Goss, sitting just 8 seconds in arears, doesn’t have the opportunity to take the title from Meyer on the sprinter’s course. A great finish to the Tour Down Under!
Thank you for reading. Send your questions to Ask RIDE if there is anything that has come up over the last week!