The Tour De Perth

Postby SamultheCamul on Tue 23/Apr/13 1:02am

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Stage One Finish, Budget Forklifts 1-2

On Monday morning I made the long haul from New Zealand across to Western Australia for the inaugural Woodside Tour de Perth. Having never been this far across Australia before, I was happy to have a couple of days spare before racing kicked off on Thursday. This allowed me to both check out the course for the upcoming stages and have a look around the city.


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Training in Perth

I had heard positive things of the city from my younger brother, who has called Perth home for the last couple of years, but I was never the less very impressed. A vibrant CBD, great training roads around the Perth Hills, stunning beaches and impressive riverside residences, not to mention the comfortable climate, made for a very enjoyable couple of days. I very much hope to return for another trip in the future, if only it wasn’t so far away.

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Roaming Perth City

Come Wednesday afternoon, tourist time was over and we were off to Rottnest Island by boat where the Tour was to kick off the following day. It was a logistically challenging task, as we had to load all of our equipment onto the ferry and then carry it by foot from the pier to our accommodationon the island which was free of cars. We were staying in cabins for our time on the island which were pretty basic but the discomfort was offset by our amazing surroundings. Being able to take a short walk down to the white sand beach and clear blue sea for a swim in the morning and after each stage was great.

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Riding on Rottnest Island – Photo Jack Anderson

Rottnest Island isn’t a particularly large island at 19 sq km and the courses for Thursday and Friday both utilized the narrow and twisty road that circles the perimeter of the island. The first day being an 80km road race, taking in four laps of the island followed by a single lap, 20km individual time trial on day two. Team Budget Forklifts had assembled a strong team for the tour, consisting of Jack Anderson, Alex Wohler, Blair Windsor, Jake Kauffmann, Shaun McCarthy, Marc Williams, Mico Cupitt and myself and we were highly motivated to start strongly, especially in the presence of team owner Tim Leunig who had also made the journey over to Rottnest to watch.

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The Quokka, Friendly Rottnest Island Rodent.

Stage One got off to a rapid start. The combination of tight roads and a 150 rider NRS field lead to a handful of crashes early on, however our team largely managed to stay up from and out of trouble. I was feeling great and on the second lap bridged across to a strong move that already contained my team mate Jack Anderson and compatriot Joe Cooper of the Huon-Genesys Team. This became the winning move and we held on for the win over the main field by 37 seconds. In the final kilometres Jack made a big move off the front and held on for the win while I managed to overcome fancied fast men Neil Van Der Ploeg and Josh Taylor in the sprint for second. A 1-2 finish for Budget Forklifts and the perfect start to the NRS series.

Unfortunately jubilation in the Budget Forklifts camp was short lived, with both Jack and I falling short of expectations in the Stage Two time trial. While not totally terrible rides, our 12th and 13th places respectively were over a minute off the winning time of Cooper and saw us drop to 6th and 7th on the general classification. The tough 20km time trial course was made more difficult by constant drizzle and rain all day, unpleasant riding conditions although fortunately the temperature remained warm. It was hard to pinpoint where exactly Iwent wrong in my ride as I didn’t feel particularly slow through any one section. I may have started a bit hesitantly but I left the island wishing I had put more effort into my road bike time trial set up, especially after seeing the fantastic position of the winner developed in partnership with Christchurch based fit guru Anthony Chapman. A further disappointment for our team was the solid placing of Jake Kauffmann in 11th Place. This would have seen him right up the ladder on GC and a very useful weapon later in the tour had it not been for some real bad luck on the opening stage. He was held up in a crash and then sent the wrong way by an official, eventually being awarded a time several minutes in arrears.

Stage Three promised to be a decisive stage. Now back on the mainland, the 142km course was located in the Perth Hills, through Kalaminda and Mundaring and contained a good mix of long rolling climbs, hair-raising descents and an uphill finish up the Zip Zag of Ridge Hill. Our team was determined to make up for the previous day and attacked the stage hard. The whole team was incredibly active and there was always a Budget Forklifts jersey up the road and in the mix. Marc Williams was particularly impressive spending the majority of a lap away solo in what for me was the most aggressive ride of the day. I also had a good hard couple of digs over the second half of the race, but the Huon-Genesys team of Cooper were very impressive and each and every move was brought back steadily. Nearing the finish it was surprisingly still a relatively large peleton intact, although I could sense plenty of tired legs around me. Nathan Earle won the stage after a late attack uphill while the race leaders otherwise all finished together.

Stage Four was 112km around the Perry Lakes and Bold Park. A relatively flat and straight forward course, aside from the final three laps when the course deviated to climb Waldron Drive. With a large bunch finish likely, I made the decision to switch my attention to the Sprint Ace competition for this stage, as I was sitting in 2nd place, only one point down in that classification following my Stage One efforts. The Budget Forklift boys rallied behind me with Jake and Alex being particularly valuable in getting me up to contest the primes. In the end, I took two of the seven sprints while the other guys in my team, racing in our typically aggressive style won several more. This was enough to take the Green Jersey home, a nice consolation prize after my disappointing GC showing.

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Tour de Perth Green Jersey – Photo Cam Watt.

The stage almost had an unfortunate ending for me. While the three ascents of Waldron Drive split the field far more than we had anticipated, I was taken out by another rider over the top of the first climb. The rider, cutting across suddenly to assist a team mate who had punctured, left me nowhere to go other than over my handle bars and headfirst into the tarmac. Luckily my bike was undamaged and I was back rolling quickly, although now among the grupetto while the front of the race sped off into the distance. A big turn by Mico saw me back within striking distance nearing the second trip up the climb and after a big uphill effort I was back up to the convoy and then the front of the race. Pretty banged up after the crash, I kept out of trouble on the final lap and stayed out of the sprint finish, won by Scott Law. Jack was also comfortably present in the front bunch and after the day’s action we had both moved up to 4th and 5th on GC.

In the end it was a relatively successful tour for Budget Forklifts, coming away with the 1st-2nd on the opening stage, 4th and 5th on GC, winning the Sprint Ace classification as well as 2nd on team GC. I am left ruing what could have beenhowever had I been more impressive in the time trial and this result will no doubt serve as fuel for the fire in the future. The Huon-Genesys team were incredibly impressive all week and we will have to lift our game to reverse this result in the future.

All in all, it was great to be back racing in the NRS series at the Tour de Perth and I can’t wait for my next round, the Tour of Toowoomba in May. Before then, I have a couple of domestic races here in New  Zealand including the National Club Champs, while my Budget Forklift Team mates willbe doing battle in round two of the NRS series, Battle on the Border.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Sam

www.samhorgan.com



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Link to original article: http://www.samhorgan.com/cycling/the-tour-de-perth/
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Original Published: 12:28pm Monday, 22nd April 2013 - NZST
SamultheCamul
Member for: 14 years 9 months

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