Tour of Canberra…Stage 4
Day three and the final stage of this year’s Loop Tour of Canberra. Before we even left the hotel the whole team was happy – we would be coming back to the Crown Plaza for showers and refreshments before the drive back to Sydney. It’s always nice not to have to get in the car straight after a race. After breakfast we jumped in numerous vehicles for the short trip to Stromlo. Having the start from the same location each day makes life a little easier. Today was 125km (130km according to the race book) and barely a flat section of road along the out and back course. Just have a look at the map from the race route – it’s quite nasty. With the majority of the field having a relatively easy day on Saturday, it was going to be aggressive from the beginning and without the big climb which featured in last year’s Tour more riders would be willing to try their luck in a long range break. Trent Wilson’s morning brief was to get in the moves and with Sam the only rider inside the top 10 on GC we had nothing to loose.
The field rolled out for a proper 2km neutral and we had the lead car in front of us to control the pace. The fact that it was sitting on just below 50km/h going uphill made it impossible for anyone to do anything but simply hang on. The red flag was dropped and racing commenced. Attacks were constant all the way through the first decent down to Uriara. Up the first climb and still nothing was allowed more than a hundred metres. BikeBug.com riders were with anything that moved, sometimes with three off the front. Shortly before descending Mount McDonald the field was, unsurprisingly pulled over, again! We were given a thorough warning about crossing double-white lines and threatened with cancelling the race if riders continued to do the wrong thing. And so we started again, racing down the winding descent to the bottom before being greeted with a 1km wall with an average of around 10%. Again riders attempted to get into moves but there is always one who ruins it and then the bunch decides there is too many people in the move. Andy Crawley should have been given the most aggressive award for the day because he was determined to make the race hard and continued to launch off the front albeit unsuccessfully.
There were probably around 20 riders who had been dropped by the turn around point but still no breaks were allowed much room to breathe. Sam was attentive throughout the day and strengthened his lead in the KOM classification by taking two, third places over a couple of climbs. A few of us who were not feeling great after Saturday decided they would continue to try their luck at least until the main climb of the day back up Mt McDonald. Sam, Caleb and Julian managed to stay with the main group as they crested the climb with about 20km to go. The rest of us chased but were unable to rejoin. Riders had to tackle the final ascent up the Three Sisters with Sam and Julian in the front group. Caleb just dropped the wheel going over the top and rode in with a couple of others who had been dropped inside the last 10km. The remaining riders came in a few minutes down on the main group.
Sam ended up 10th overall and with the KOM jersey. Thanks to the team and sponsors for making it a great weekend.