Filling In The Blanks

Postby SamultheCamul on Thu 18/Apr/13 1:03am

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Time Trial - Photo AnnaSearle

Before I write my report from the opening NRS race for this season, the Tour de Perth I figured I had better briefly summarise the preceding month of racing. March and April has been a busy period for me with plenty of racing on to keep me occupied. Unfortunately no wins of notebut a couple of strong performances that were confidence building.


Following directly after the Oceania Champs was the iconic local event, Le Race. The route for Le Race is one of the hardest in New Zealand racing, from Christchurch to Akaroa taking in a substantial amount of climbing on the way. I came into this race as defending champion, however a repeat victory was always going to be a big task. Last year I relied on some strong team work from my then team Subway Pro Cycling, while this year I was racing as an individual, although lucky to have the support of event sponsor Coffee Culture.

The race started rapidly and we flew up the first ascent to the Sign of the Kiwi in 13minutes. This pace totally blew the race to pieces and the large field had been reduced to seven including Michael Vink, Tom  Davidson, James Early and Darcey Ellerm Norton, youngsters Kegan Girdlestone and Daniel Whitehouse and myself. We were working well together out along the Akaroa Highway, but as we approached the second major climb of the day to Hilltop we were joined by another group including several riders from the strong Node4-Subaru UCI Conti Team.

Vink was quick to surge on the lower slopes of the hilltop ascent at a pace that only Early was able to match. By the summit he had dropped Early too and rode solo to the win in a blistering time of 2hours 32 minutes, substantially faster than the course record. Early held on for second while behind, I had settled into my own steady climbing pace. By Akaroa, I had only Tom Davidson for company, having dropped all others and I comfortably won the sprint for third. This was a good result for me on what is far from my preferred terrain and in a time that was also under the record.

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Le Race – Photo Cathy Adair

The Canterbury Centre TT Champs were held at Loburn the day after Le Race. Attempting a time trial the day following a tough race is a hard task and for this reason the start list for the event was low on numbers. Despite feeling rubbish in my warm up, scrapping my regular routine for ten minutes of easy spinning, my legs came right during the event. I picked up speed steadily throughout and was flying by the finish eventually finishing the 40km event in 50min08seconds. This was one of my fastest ever performances and also gave me the Senior Canterbury TT Title for the third time.

After a weekend at home without racing over Easter, it was off to Blenheim and Nelson the following weekend for Graperide and Round Two of the Elite Series. Graperide remains one of my favourite events on the calendar. It has a great atmosphere and an ideal venue, held in the Forrest Estate Vineyard. Despite threatening forecasts, weather on the day was warm and sunny, although it was bitterly cold on the start line in the morning.

Riding as an individual, I had my hands tied tactically. In the early stages of the race there was little I could do to prevent an early move of five sailing off the front containing one rider from each of the main domestic teams. I attempted to keep the pace high with a couple of surges on theroad to Picton but the break still pushed out to an advantage of 2min 45seconds. My big chance to distance myself from the main field came on the main climb of the day as we hit the Queen Charlotte Drive and I attacked hard, immediately opening up a good gap. I was solo through Momorangi Bay and by Linkwater I had halved the gap to the front. By Havlock it was down to 28 seconds and I had the front group in my sights. Unfortunately the combination of a head wind home and the breakaway riders becoming suddenly aware of my presence close behind meant I couldn’t quite close the distance and I started slipping backwards. Eventually I was re-caught by the main field but still managed a decent sprint at the end to take fifth. It was a pleasing day, made a whole lot better when my partner Anna won the major spot prize at the prize giving. $2000 of travel to Australia will be very enjoyable later in the year.

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Spooners Climb, Elite Series Round 2 – Photo Megan Ellis

Round Two of the Elite Series promised to be an awesome day, with a tough course that included the long ascent of Spooners as well as a steep uphill finish on Totara View Road. Riding for Benchmark Holmes again, our team went into the race with a plan to be super aggressive and executed this perfectly. We had three riders in the early break away before James Early and I left the main field behind to bridge across to the group on Spooners. Unfortunately other teams were much more negative than us and several strong riders in the front group were unwilling to work. Despite the best effortsof my team mate Richard Lawson to drive the front group along, we were eventually re-caught and the main field proceeded to ride in procession to the hilltop finish. Our team made plenty more attempts to get away but with no success and in the end the hill climbers shone in the uphill finish with Tom Davidson taking a solid victory. I did my best and finished a frustrating sixth, left ruing what could have been if the race had been as hard as hoped.

Luckily the frustration didn’t last too long. After a quick getaway and long drive home I was packing my bags and off to the airport in the early hours of Monday morning. My destination was Perth for the first round of the 2013 NRS Series, the Tour de Perth.

Stay tuned

Sam

www.samhorgan.com



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Link to original article: http://www.samhorgan.com/cycling/filling-in-the-blanks/
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Original Published: 1:38pm Wednesday, 17th April 2013 - NZST
SamultheCamul
Member for: 14 years 8 months

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