2016 Super Series – Tour of the Barossa

Round 8 – Team Time Trial

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What a brilliant day for a team time trial. The 36km course was a very lumpy affair and most definitely suited to teams with climbers and very coherent flow. The MBAB girls were the last to start but soon had the other teams in sight. Maddie pulled very impressive turns for the first third of the course, then pulled aside to let the team continue without her as the course became increasingly hilly. The ladies held very good formations as the course changed directions and therefore wind conditions. But, the other teams could be seen also holding very tidy lines and exchanging turns with minimal time loss. The MBAB opened their account for the tour with a 3 ½ minute win of the stage.

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Round 9 – Road Race

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Photos courtesy of Chameleon Photography

The second stage of the Tour of the Barossa was run in significant heat. The 60km race was also somewhat amputated following some confused marshalling. Given the heat, the ladies weren’t exactly heartbroken. The QOM points were early in the piece. Victoria took an early maximal run at the short sprinter’s hill and took the three points. Narelle was easily over in second place, and Jo Easson grabbed third. The field regrouped, Lucy working hard to keep a watchful eye on potential breaks, while Jess easily loped along always in the top five riders. The second QOM was a more jarring affair. USG were trying to disrupt Victoria’s second run at the hill, by sending riders up the road and leaving the chase work to Victoria. Victoria first brought Eloise back, after she headed off the front 1km from the hill. When Victoria closed the gap, Michelle Devine counterattacked to try and get the smart gap. Narelle was covering Michelle and followed her closely. Victoria had enough gas as Michelle passed to bring her back, but couldn’t contend with an actual sprinter – Dani McKinnirey of SASI was boring down on the outside of Victoria and took the three points. Michelle held out Narelle for a toughly contested third. The second QOM did break the field. Maddie and Lucy who were initially travelling strongly, began to succumb to the heat – over a decade living in Australia hasn’t cured Lucy of being an English rose! MBA Blackchrome were represented by three riders – the only team with multiple riders in the break, but USG were chasing hard and not giving up. The group held a strong and steady tempo – but the heat was sapping the strength of the riders. The bunch finish was disappointingly disrupted by members of the Masters men who were sprinting for last place! The result may not have been any different however. Dani took the win from a strong finishing Jenny MacPherson, with Victoria, Jess and Narelle rounding out 3rd-5th respectively.

Round 10 – Road Race (a tale of two races)

Report by Narelle Hards, photos by Chameleon Photography

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So, about 500 metres into the race and we said goodbye to VV, watching her ride up the hill and into the sunset. Actually there was no sunset – only grey clouds and lots of rain.  In fact, for the next 80km it was non-stop rain!  With VV having set off on her 80km time trial the rest of the bunch settled into a smooth tempo.  A few undulations thinned out the group a little but it was the Whispering Wall, a nasty two-bite hill where things really got interesting. The whippet (aka Christina) turned the screws up the climb which threw a grenade amongst the peloton. After cresting the hill, the bunch was quickly reduced to just 9 riders, USG well represented with pocket rocket Stacey Riedel, ever consistent Michelle Devine and sprint queen Jenny MacPherson.  Jo Easson and Eloise Vaughan rounded out what was a 50/50 split of MBAB and USG riders in the top ten, but the MBAB wildcard VV was no-where to be seen.

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Time checks were given on Victoria. The group increased their effort when a time check came in at 3 ½ minutes, the MBAB girls not giving full gas, but not riding negatively to get in the way of the pursuit either. 20km later the time check came in at 3 minutes, which drew smiles from the MBAB girls – losing 30 seconds across 20km was going to make Victoria a difficult cat to bring back. For the USG team it was a desperately difficult position. The groups was tapping out a steady tempo but with VV off the front it was never going to be a legitimate chase. Jess, Narelle, Lucy and Christina happy to leave the heavy lifting to the USG girls. The choice was grim. Burn heaps of energy in a potentially fruitless chase, only to have the MBAB girls reach the finish fresh and ready to sprint, or give up chasing altogether and race for second.

The QOM stirred things up a little on the second occasion, but for the majority of the race everyone was happy to roll into the sprint finish for second. There was plenty of eyeballing in last 5 kilometres as everyone was getting there lead-out trains ready. Stacey Riedel lined up her team with Jenny MacPherson well positioned, but MBAB weren’t going to let her take yet another sprint finish without a fight. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Lucy and Narelle to launch Jess into the lead it wasn’t to be – Jenny MacPherson too strong once again.

Round 10 (the view from the front)

Photos by Chameleon and the commissaire’s car that lead Victoria the whole way

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Victoria knew her legs were good. The warm up ride to the race had produced no hint of soreness; no signs of weakness or fatigue. To Victoria, the race had started so slowly that she though it was neutral for some reason. She couldn’t see a reason why, so she buzzed her way up to Narelle’s hip to ask if they were under the control of the pace car. Narelle confirmed that the field was not riding under neutral conditions and so Victoria took a final look at the field and stepped on the gas. For the first 5km, Victoria started to feel a little bit silly at the optimism of her move, but then a time check came in at 2 minutes within that first 5 km. At least if she could get to the QOM first, she could then sit up and wait, making the move simply look like an attempt to secure QOM points like she had in the Tour of Margaret River. But like the Tour of Margaret River, her lead at the QOM was significant enough that waiting around just wasn’t an option. And so, the kilometers just kept rolling, and still no fatigue even with the tempo on the flat and undulations held between 35 and 42km/hr. The second time check came in at 3 ½ minutes, and then shortly after, at 4 minutes. Disaster struck when the rim of Victoria’s front wheel did a tell-tale ding against the bitumen. A puncture cost her thirty seconds and broke her rhythm somewhat. A time check came in at 2 minutes which startled her into renewed effort with 30km still to ride. The pain began in earnest. The legs were still pushing happily enough, but the effort was causing a constant stream of back, arm and neck pain. Victoria’s never looked at her Garmin so much in her life – willing herself to keep her average speed as high as she could hold. Victoria built the lead back out to nearly 4 minutes and held her concentration for the second QOM and the last 10km. The time checks had stopped but with only five km to go, the field could not be seen. The paranoia pushed Victoria faster and faster, until she crossed the line with a 4 minute 7 second lead and an average speed of nearly 34km an hour held by herself over 80km!

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