Tour Of The Great South Coast

Postby SamultheCamul on Sat 24/Aug/13 1:06am

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Final Podium - Photo Peter Horgan

After a couple of days spent in Melbourne, I finally find myself back at home, in front of the key board and in a position to reflect and report on what was one of the most memorable weeks in my cycling career, the Tour of the Great South Coast. The effort put in by everyone in the Budget Forklifts team the entire week was immense and I feel even a blow by blow novel of the entire race would struggle to capture this. Today I am going to stray from my usual blogging format and instead focus on the key moments of the tour.


It is fair to say, that despite our teams’ very recent success at the Tour of Gippsland, we entered the race as massive underdogs. The Drapac Cycling team had commanded most of the headlines prior to the event with their recent plans to become a Professional Continental registered team next year and they brought an incredibly formidable team to the tour. The current NRS series leaders, Huon-Genesys were also considered favourites with the defending champion Anthony Giacoppo and the ever impressive (and no doubt future pro tour rider) Jack Haig featuring on their start list. Budget Forklifts was represented by Shaun McCarthy, Jesse Kerrison, Jake Kauffmann, Josh Prete, Marc Williams, Kristian Juel, Karl Evans and myself.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

The 2013 Tour of the Great South Coast kicked off in Mount Gambier, South Australia and travelled in a generally southward direction along the coast to Camperdown, Victoria taking in nine stages over five days through towns including Portland, Heywood, Port Fairy and Koroit. Variable weather isa major feature of this tour with warm sunny days mixing with bitterly cold and wet days and some very strong wind at times too. Time bonuses are also a major factor of this tour with 64 sprint primes and 19 mountain primes each offering a minimum of 3,2 and 1 bonus seconds for first, second and third respectively.

The opening day of racing definitely showcased all of the weather mentioned above. Despite being raced on a relatively straight forward square circuit, horrible weather made the thirty lap criterium much more of a challenge than expected. A combination of strong wind and cold rain hammered the peloton and drove opening some big gaps, especially over the last few laps. The Euride Racing Team from Adelaide have shown impressive strength of late with a well drilled lead out train and this stage was another great example, netting them the stage win by Robert McCarthy.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

Stage Two was a 65km Kermesse/Circuit Race, comprising of ten laps of a 6.5km circuit. Rain threatened the riders on the start line, but by the race’s end the sun had thankfully appeared. After a few laps of the status quo a dangerous group managed to sneak off the front down the back of the course. I initially missed it, but sensed the danger and skipped across on a crosswind section, while race favourites Haig (Genesys) and Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) joined soon after. It was a strong move, with my team mate from Budget, Jake also there along with Shaw (Genesys) and Palmer (Drapac.) Isensed a reluctance to commit from the other riders however, with the Genesys and Drapac riders seeming to mark each other.

With that at the back of my mind I was keen to test my legs and managed to escape off the front of this group a lap later with Alex Morgan (VIS) for company. Initially this was just a tester move, with my intention to gauge the strength and commitment of the others in the group while perhaps sneaking a few bonus seconds at the next sprint prime. When our gap quickly grew to a minute however, it was all on and I was full gas on the pedals.

Alex was the perfect partner in the break. As a member of the Australian track team and current world champion in the Team Pursuit, he certainly does not lack in raw horsepower and he did his fair share all day. I was fully committed to taking as much time on GC as possible and took all available bonus time on the road, but this meant I didn’t have much gas in the tank come the finish and Alex comfortably won the stage. Our gap over the chasing group was 1minute9seconds and the end of the day with even more time back to the main peloton. With an additional 18seconds of time bonuses I pulled on the yellow jersey of tour leader.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

While no doubt proud to be leading, I was certainly nervous pulling on the jersey so early in the tour. With so much racing still to come and I couldn’t help but feel I had handed down a bit of a death sentence to my team mates, forcing them to ride the front in what seemed surely a mission impossible scenario. Fortunately my team didn’t share my pessimism and they were both optimistic and excited about the challenge ahead. A massive confidence booster and point of inspiration for me personally.

Day two was another double day, with a morning criterium in Portland being followed by a 93km rolling road race from Heywood to Casterton. Held on a tight and technical course (two hairpin corners) the criterium went without a hitch, with my team mates doing a great job to both control the front and keep me near. Giacoppo won his first stage of three, a situation we were happy with given he was now no longer a threat on GC. Our own team sprinter, Jesse selflessly sacrificed his own stage chances to take on a new role, absorbing as many of the available sprint primes and time bonuses as possible while I myself managed to pick up a cheeky three seconds thanks to some cleaver bunch placement.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

The afternoon stage was the first major challenge for the boys and they controlled the front beautifully.  Under careful instructions from our team captain Shaun, they allowed a non-threatening move up the road and then set a solid tempo to both hold them at a set gap and also dissuade anyone else from attacking. Fourth place Shaw put us under a bit of pressure by going on the attack in the latter part of the race, while I found myself isolated and in a small group of GC contenders as we tackled the final and hardest climb of the day near the finish. Cresting the climb among the leaders, I felt comfortable however and happily responded to a couple of hard surges as we came off the descent and onto the run in to the finish. So comfortable in fact that I perhaps rather foolishly or unnecessarily went on the hunt for the final sprint prime in a small group up the road. By the finishline the peloton had largely come back together and Giacoppo won his second stage for the day.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

Day three was again a double day although shorter in distance than the day previous, with a criterium in Port Fairy preceding a 65km afternoon stage from Port Fairly to Woolsthorpe. The criterium was a straight forward affair. The course was fast and flowing on quite a long circuit, although a bit of crosswind down the back of the lap added a bit of excitement. Again Giacoppo won comfortably while I got involved in several sprint primes, ensuring I didn’t concede time to a determined Shaw who had moved up to second place following his previous days efforts.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

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Port Fairy – Photo Peter Horgan

In contrast to the morning, the afternoon stage proved to be a decisive one. The peloton was faced with gale force winds all day and while it was predominately headwind, two hard sections of crosswind, the latter of which came with only twenty kilometres remaining really did some damage to the field. My team mates had a horrendous job of setting tempo into the wind all day and there were periods where the boys were pushing 450W+ at demoralising speeds not far over 20km/h.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

As we took the right hand corner at the top of the course, the job of my team mates was over and the responsibility fell on my shoulders as the Drapac Team slammed the race in the gutter and drove it. Luckily my legs were feeling great and I held position well while Shaw and Morgan, second and third on GC were dropped from the greatly diminished peloton.  I came under pressure a couple more times once the race turned right and  tailwind home but I responded quickly and safely finished in the front bunch of sixteen riders while Luke Fetch (Satalyst) won the stage. It was a positive stage for the team in which I extended my lead in the overall, now over Alex Edmonson (Euride) in second and Lapthorne in third.

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Photo – Peter Horgan



It probably comes as no surprise that day four was another double stage day with the longest stage of the tour, 104km from Koroit to Peterborough following a square block criterium around Koroit in the morning. The criterium was controlled well, with a small group of riders allowed up the road to contest the stage while the GC hopefuls conserved energy in the bunch. The frequently impressive Cam Bayly won the stage in a late solo move.

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Photo – Peter Horgan



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Photo – Peter Horgan

The afternoon stage was a daunting one, given the long distance and impending bad weather. Our team got very lucky with the conditions however, with strong cross/tailwinds making for high speeds and a short racing time. There was an average speed of 48km/h for the stage. Drapac hit out hard offthe start line and while plenty of riders found themselves dropped our whole team was present in the front group. As the rain started to fall, there were a few attacks over the final climb but my team managed them well and at the finish I was safely placed among the front riders behind repeat winner Fetch.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

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Photo – Peter Horgan

And so it was onto the final stage, a 93.6km circuit race around Camperdown with a solid 1.5km climb falling in the final five kilometres of the loop. The weather for the day was appropriately awful with rain, cold temperatures, and strong winds. Drapac made their intentions clear from the outset, setting a high pace the entire first lap of the race that saw the majority of the field shelled on the first ascent of the climb. My team mates were incredible and more than up to the challenge. Lap after lap they set hard tempo into the block headwind along the finishing straight before grovelling in the crosswind sections, digging deep over the climb, fighting back onto the bunch after the descent and repeating the process all over again.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

Crunch time came when Lapthorne attacked over the climb with two full laps remaining. He took the ever strong Haig with him and bridged across to an earlier move that contained several of his team mates. The pressure was really on and my team mates had to dig incredibly deep to bring this move back with one lap remaining with some assistance from Euride.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

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Photo – Peter Horgan

Into the final lap the attacks continued to come thick and fast and I had to do some of the work myself. Edmonson made a dangerous move on a crosswind section inside the final ten kilometres that I was forced to close and while I was able to do that relatively comfortably I immediately came under attack with a big surge by Haig on the climb. He took Lapthorne and Edmonson with him and while I was unable to follow, I dug deep over the summit, keeping them within sight. Following a rapid descent, I crossed the finish line eleven seconds down on the stage winner Edmonson and comfortably thewinner of the tour.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

It was hard to describe my exact emotions as I crossed the finish. I was obviously ecstatic to have won the tour, but also incredibly relieved. It was a long week of racing and my team mates were incredible throughout. They deserved the win the tour and it was almost a shame I didn’t get a better chance to share it with them. Jesse managed to secure his fifth Sprint Ace Jersey in the NRS this year but I really believe he would have been capable of a stage win had he not had to defend my lead while Jake also selflessly gave up his own top five position to support me.

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Photo – Peter Horgan

It has now been two wins in a row for our team and so we are very much on a roll. The NRS recommences in only a week’s time in Mildura for the Tour of the Murray River and I can’t wait. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing team sponsors; Budget Forklifts, Cervelo, Shimano, Shotz, Scody, Prologo and Premax. Also my own personal supporters; Hub Cycles Christchurch and Optimal Performance. This win is for you guys.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Sam

www.samhorgan.com

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Link to original article: http://www.samhorgan.com/cycling/tour-o ... uth-coast/
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Original Published: 6:18pm Friday, 23rd August 2013 - NZST
SamultheCamul
Member for: 14 years 9 months

Re: Tour Of The Great South Coast

Postby Claude on Sat 24/Aug/13 8:31pm

Great result for you Sam - good stuff!
And as usual a good writeup. Good photos too!
Good luck for the next in the series.
Claude
User avatar
Member for: 8 years 7 months

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