Stage 1 84km Pastoria loop – 4 laps
“Jeez I feel like crap” I said to my wife the night before the 3daytour started, I was having a whinge because I’d been training really well for this stage race, It is a highlight of the year on my cycling calendar, I mean I even give up beer before it when I’m in training!
I had acquired a chest cough 2 weeks out from the event and was struggling to shake it, it was right in the middle of when I was supposed to be doing a big effort in training so I had to taper that. I had finally gotten rid of the cough when I came down with something else, this was a virus of some sort, fever and cold clammy feelings and then the cough came back! I love my kids but they are too generous in giving out their coughs and colds to their parents!
This stage is traditionally the last stage for the 3DT, fireworks normally happen on this stage and I was very worried I’d be dropped early. The pace up the Bald Hill climb, would determine my fate for the weekend. It’s a tough little climb that the pure climbers can fly up while having a casual conversation! Me on the other hand I have to max out my Heart rate just to stay within reach of them. The first 2 times up bald Hill are for KOM (King of the Mountain) points and the little climbers didn’t disappoint they absolutely flew up there and if they had organised themselves better they could have ridden away from the peloton to have a strong breakaway that most probably would have stuck. Max went on the second KOM and picked up some well earned KOM points.
I was in the red early on both of the KOM climbs, struggling to hold a wheel, my fever and runny nose was causing havoc. I’ve got to say I’ve never felt so bad on a bike before, it was a battle internally for me to stay on the bike and not pull out. I managed to get back on when we descended so I thought I’d take matters into my own hands for the 3rd & 4th time up Bald Hill, I got onto the front with a fellow Hawthorn rider and got him to ride with me at an easy Tempo. “if they want to go up this hill quickly, they’ll have to get around us first!” I tried to clog up the lane we were allowed to ride in so that no one could attack without pushing past some riders. It worked, but I think everyone was happy to have some respite, it was only the first race of 4.
Lachie (Fellow BLOTTO rider) got onto the front for the last 15 km and was pulling big turns and he looked really strong, he kept the pace high so no one could try a sneaky attack off the front and get a late breakaway going
This worked out well for the sprinters of the group as we were all together for a bunch sprint to the line. The last 1km is a dip of about 50metres and then a climb back up the dip and then flat for about 150metres to the line. We were thundering down towards the final few k’s the pace was high I had Robbie (BLOTTO sprint genius) on my wheel and I felt I could get him close to a good position for the finish. I knew deep down I didn’t have the legs today so when we hit the dip I went for it hoping Robbie would come with me, I gassed it as hard as I could, I got into the lead which is what I wanted to do so I could have a clear shot at going up the dipper without being hindered. About ¾ of the way up the hill the legs started screaming at me and I started losing power. I could hear a rider steaming up to me and all I thought was “please let it be Robbie” and then whoosh! It was Robbie ! He flew past me and absolutely destroyed the opposition to take the Stage by a few metres to 2nd spot. Lachie rode like a mad man and got 3rd for the stage as well! I later found out that my lead out for Robbie didn’t work at all, he found his own way to the finish, he didn’t need my help at all!
So it was BLOTTO – 1st, 2nd, 7th and 8th for the stage
The day didn’t give me any personal glory but it was great to see the boys pulling hard and getting the job done at the end. I finished with the pack but I was still riding and I decided to keep going with the Tour, if I pulled out I’d be sitting at home and wouldn’t be much fun to be around. What’s the old saying “I wish I didn’t go for that bike ride” said NOBODY… EVER
Avge speed 35.1km/hr. Vertical climbing 1159m
Degree of toughness 9/10 (normally would be an 8, but sickness adds an extra point!)
Struggled from start to finish, happy to survive….
Stage 2 Individual Time Trial – 5.0km of pure SPEED!
The night before the TT I had a very restless sleep, I just kept waking up thinking about the TT, I’d been targeting this stage for a loooong time and wanted to do well in it, I’ve always liked the idea of a TT, no one else with you on the road, just you, the bike and a stopwatch. I often thought that my riding style would suit this discipline. I’ve attempted a few of these before but without any luck or indications that I could be good at it, so I went all ‘engineer’ on it and I did research on setting up a TT bike correctly and found that I’d been running the seat too low. I must say that having the seat higher up gave me a chance to put more power into the pedals, but holy crap it’s uncomfortable!! ( I may be speaking with a higher tone in my voice if I do too many TT’s)
I got to Kyneton early so I could drive the course one last time and I’m glad I did, they’d changed the start location and it meant it would be a shorter TT than last year, so I knew I could all out for the whole Stage and not hold back anything for the entire length.
I did a good warm up and threw on my new TT helmet – a bit old school circa 2009 design but the price was awesome! (90bucks delivered, schweet!) and headed out to the start.
Got there just in time with only a minute to wait before my turn so no time to cool off before hand. Got into the starters gate and got the countdown, 3-2-1-GO! BOOM! I was off! Stomp on the pedals and get that rig moving and get up to speed as fast as you can, I heard a few people on the side of the road call out “go Kippo!” (that was cool). Now, I always ride with my glasses, I like to see what I’m doing but my new TT helmet has a visor so I decided to go without the specs. This was a good thing and a bad thing. The bad was that at top speed I couldn’t focus on my bike computer so I had no idea what my Heart rate was or my speed or my power output so I had to just go by feel. The good is that I sometimes I get caught up in too much of the data feed and today I couldn’t so I just let fly and let my body tell me how I was doing. I got into my TT position and started cranking the big gears at high cadence and just looked for the smoothest bit of road, the bumps in the road are a killer for consistent power output, and let’s not forget my man bits!
I felt like I was doing pretty good in the first 2k’s because my ‘carrot’ (the bloke who started 30 seconds before me) was getting closer to me, I flew past him at about the halfway point and figured he was not really trying or I was on a hot time. My legs were screaming at me to stop and at one point my head was throbbing so hard that I closed my eyes for a few seconds – not the smartest thing to do whilst travelling at about 50km/hr!
Coming into the final dipper before the finish line I gave it all that I had and found that I had I no gears left and was spinning out in top gear, a good sign. I was out of the saddle for the climb out of the dipper and just stomped on the pedals for all I was worth I came across the line completely spent and ready to vomit, another good sign that there wasn’t anything left in the tank.
When we were rolling back we heard the news that Robbie had come in second and I had ridden the TT of my LIFE to grab the win! I was completely elated, so much work for this and it paid off. With the time that I posted I jumped into the lead on General Classification (GC) leader board as well and with that I get to wear the Yellow Leaders Jersey for the next race.
We found out later on that the time I posted would have won B Grade and would have just missed out on the podium in A Grade!
- Paul Kippin – 6:13.88
- Robbie Storey – 6:24.69 + 11 secs
- Chris Wood – 6:29.29 + 16 secs
Avge speed 48.3km/hr.
Degree of pain 9/10 (it hurt a lot, but I can’t remember anymore, snatching the win melted any memories of pain away, all I have is good thoughts)
Got the big diesel motor firing early and was able to sustain it the whole way….
I received my Yellow Leaders Jersey before the start of stage 3. I asked the commissares if they wanted it back after the stage, she told me that she didn’t want my “stinking, sweaty jersey back!” (All with a smile on her face). She told me that it’s mine to keep. As you can see I’ve never been in this position before…..
Stage 3 Kyneton loop – 85 km of undulating terrain
The BLOTTO boys had a chat and we planned on trying to keep it all together for another bunch sprint. This stage was very hilly, seems like it was always going up or going down with no real respite. We planned on keeping a tight leash on the bunch before the first KOM at about 20ks in and we did that well. Max and Lachie did a lot of work holding it together and they were super strong, chasing anything down that looked threatening to the GC. We finally let 2 riders go because they were well down on the overall positions. When we started the climb for the first KOM and 2 little climbers went off the front and we had some concerns because they were 18 seconds behind me. But they had gone very early in the race, another 65ks to go and with a strong headwind blowing for the last 25k’s we felt we could control them. I was feeling much better today and we started working to keep the break to a manageable distance up the road. The bunch got caught at an intersection where we had to wait for some cars and that seemed to be the point where the break got a good jump on us. All of a sudden they were 2 minutes up the road. So I went to the front along with Robbie to get the pace up and bring the gap back. We pulled hard but the terrain was undulating and we couldn’t get a good rhythm going. No one else was pulling turns and an old stager by the name of Colin Bell came up to me and basically told me that if I wanted to stay on the front, then everyone will let the Yellow Jersey holder burn himself out. He said just come off the front but stay close to the lead and others will start pulling turns. Amazingly he was right. We started to get a good pace going and pulled back 2 of the 4 breakaway riders. I was confident that we’d get them back into the head wind.
We were told that they were still 2 minutes up the road! Unbelievable! It’s blowing a gale and the whole group wasn’t pulling them back, damn little mountain goats just floating over these rolling hills. Curse you genetics! 2 other riders started to pull away from the main bunch, one of them was Richard McCorkell, he’s a 3 time winner of this race back in the 90’s in A grade so he knows when to make a move. Unfortunately I was in the red when he went and I couldn’t counter his move. Still, there was only 2 of them into this headwind, plenty of time and firepower to cover his move. We started the last climb at 18ks to go and I got onto the front of the pack and worked up the hill as fast as I could go, it wasn’t that fast but at least I stayed at the front so I could see if anyone else tried to get away. The bunch got over the hill and regrouped and set about trying to pull the break(s) back. We worked extremely hard but just couldn’t gain ground on them. At one stage pulled a turn in front of Robbie and he said ‘”if you’ve got anything left, then now’s the time to use it!” I pulled a long turn, but to be honest I was struggling, I felt low on power and my virus was finally starting to bite into my output today.
With 2 k’s to go we had some or all of the break in our sight, I’d just pulled another turn and yelled at the blokes around me that we have 2k’s to go “move your arses if you want to bring ‘em back!” The bunch responded and went even harder to pull them back, but to no avail, we caught one of the break – Nick Liau – he’s a little weapon on the bike and a nemesis of Lachie’s, so at least we ruined Nicks breakaway J ! HA! In the end we had our own bunch sprint and Robbie went early with a vicious attack but I had enough juice left in the rank to get back onto his wheel and power past him to take the bunch sprint for 4th on the stage and few extra bonus seconds that come with it.
It was a tough stage and I had relinquished the leaders jersey to one of the breakaway riders. A kid named Jacob Mumford. Remember that name because I think he’s got the goods to be a very, very good rider. The kid’s only 16, I’m sure he doesn’t know how to shave yet but he knows how to ride a bike.
Jacob had taken the lead by 40 seconds and Richard McCorkell had jumped into 3rd. With my fourth on stage 3 and the 2 bonus seconds I held a slender 1 second advantage over Richard and Robbie was 5 seconds back.
Stage 4 would really be a battle for the minor podium positions.
Avge speed 35.8km/hr. Vertical climbing 1000m
Degree of toughness 9.5/10 (rolling hills, no respite for the pack)
Supposedly our race was faster than b grade.
Stage 4 Newham loop – 90 km 3 loops of 30km
The finale. 4 laps of fast Newham circuit with 2 KOMs in the first 2 laps with bonus seconds on offer for each KOM. I HAD to keep an eye on Richard! He’s a master of explosive breaks right when everyone else is struggling and they normally end up being a winning move.
We thought of trying to get a few bonus seconds in the KOM sprints for me or Robbie to help consolidate our positions but the pace was so high going up the hill that I couldn’t get anywhere near the front. The speed for the race was very high and any breaks going away were always on a tight leash and the BLOTTO boys always kept a keen look out for anything that could jeopardize our positions. Max and Lachie were doing a lot of work when needed to get back breaks. Those boys did such a great job. I always tried to position myself in the first third of the pack, I’m comfy there and I can see who’s trying to get away and then make a decision to either shut it down or let others do that.
We had worked well to hold the race together for 2 of the 3 laps and had the last climb to get over and then it was 20 is of flat out racing to finish off the tour, if we could keep the bunch together without any attacks on the last hill I felt we’d be in for a shot at keeping my place on GC. All the BLOTTO boys got together and drove the pace up the hill. I was 4 th wheel and I must say I reckon 4 BLOTTO team mates in a line setting the pace would have looked imposing to the rest of the bunch. I know I was happy to be a part of this group of guys rather than trying to take on the might of the BLOTTO train, we’d been animating the stages and putting pressure on the other riders any chance we got and the results were coming our way. Hopefully we could put the cherry on the top and consolidate our positions.
Richard attacked with about 15 k’s to go. I heard Robbie yell out a warning as Richard went past him, so I jumped out of the pack and chased him down and got onto his wheel, he tried to get me to pull turns with him but I kindly told him to jam it! I wasn’t here to help him I was here to make sure I nullified his attacks!
Lachie jumped on the front and powered the bunch at a high pace for most of the back straight to keep any would be attacks at bay and he did a fantastic job, only one real attempt was made and was nullified pretty quickly.
Coming up to 5 k’s to go we had to go up an incline before it flattened out for the final kilometre, this was where the fireworks would start and whoa they did ever! Blokes were trying their luck all over the place. I was just trying keeping up the front and kept grabbing wheels to anyone that looked like trouble, damn this hill, will it ever stop! I’ve had enough of hills and going into deep into the red to keep the other riders in check!
Richard went again and I chased him down again and wouldn’t let him have any freedom to attack, we came onto the flat before the finish and I was right beside Richard and it was like a couple of old bulls going at it! We were shoulder to shoulder, he actually came at me and did a bit of a shoulder charge on me to try and rattle my cage, but I thought bugger this, so I gave him a little shoulder rub back! All this was going on while we were doing 45-50kph! I felt very pro getting aggressive and physical coming into the final stages of a sprint, petty cool!
That was the last I saw of Richard, I started concentrating on the final big sprint to the line, I found myself on Robbie’s wheel again and we had one rider in front of us, perfect, we’d use this schmo to get us to the line. Robbie timed his attack perfectly this time, he didn’t go too early and just exploded and destroyed the field again for a well earned win. I had good legs and was pulling back onto his wheel before the line but somehow 2 riders came into my field of vision on the tight and pipped me for 2nd and 3rd! I couldn’t believe that I’d been relegated to 4th on the stage! The 3rd place getter would have beaten me by inches but those inches relegated me to 3rd in the overall classification and Robbie jumped over me by 1 second! Dang…..
Avge speed 36.5km/hr. Vertical climbing 700m
Degree of toughness 8/10 (attentive for all of the race, no one gets away today)
High pace race, that seemed to go quickly as I was engrossed in keeping tabs on any threats all day
For me this tour was about scraping through early before I was able to rally and get my legs going for the TT. I hadn’t been at 100% at any time on the weekend but with the help of the other BLOTTO boys and some good leg power was able to stay on the podium. Robbie deserved the second place, he was clearly the best sprinter in C Grade this year and if I had to relinquish my position in the GC, I’m glad it was him that took it.
Riding with team mates was a different dynamic that is special in cycling. Lachie and Max weren’t too far out of the picture in GC but were happy to help Robbie and myself with some hard gut riding throughout the last 2 stages, and for that, I thank them from the bottom of my heart, and when it’s my turn to bury myself for them I’ll do it gladly!
Well, I think my time in C Grade has finished and I’m expecting to be notified that B Grade is now my bunch. So I’ll have to work harder and maybe a little more ‘smarter’ as well to keep up with the boys in ‘B’
I also want to thank my wife and kids for letting me take 3 days off to go and race bikes, she’s a champ!
Cheers! Thanks for reading.