Having not raced C grade on the road until the Gisborne race the weekend prior this particular Blotto member was feeling a little nervous and underdone coming into stage 1. Despite a positive showing at the Gisborne I hadn’t felt I had done enough kilometres to be able to be competitive or influence the race significantly. With this I set off on stage 1 with little expectation for myself and I just hoped that the change to the finish location for the stage would result in a higher chance of a bunch finish. Usually fireworks occur on this stage so a bunch finish would be the best outcome for us. Blotto led the race through the neutral zone and the first lap was pretty sedate with the first moves finally coming into the Bald Hill KOM with Nick Lau and company deciding to open their accounts for the KOM competition. The second lap saw a couple of solo attacks off the front but none looked threatening and with more KOM points on offer for the second lap the pace was on again for the climb. I kept towards the front on this climb for fear of the race splitting apart and noticed Max taking on the whippets for some KOM points. After that flurry it all came together again coming through for the 3rd lap. It was at this time I took a good look at the finish and mentioned to Rob this was a punchy Gilbert type of finish. I hoped this would pump him up for a good result if it stayed together over the final Bald hill climb.
The 3rd lap rolled on with another couple of unsuccessful solo attacks and the penultimate time up Bald Hill was a leisurely affair with enough time acknowledge the Blotto cheer squad on the side of the road, but I knew this was likely to be the calm before the storm. The final ascent of Bald Hill saw the pace come back on and I was feeling good enough to again be towards the pointy end of the field and surprisingly the race didn’t explode like I anticipated and we were all back together on the descent. I was on the curb side of the road second wheel when I looked back and saw 3 Blotto jerseys also towards the front. I knew then we were on for a good result and I launched a small attack before the final intersection to try and ignite the speed to stop people swamping our good position. Unfortunately no one else up the front had similar thoughts and the pace again slowed and I suddenly found myself slowly drifting back and caught on the curb side of the road, and given there wasn’t another Blotto jersey in front of me the others must also be slipping back. With about 2 km to go a Hawthorn rider illegally launched himself down the right hand side of the road and from then on the fight was on. I was boxed in coming into the finishing hill looking frantically for a way out when suddenly I saw a Blotto jersey bolt up the centre of the road. Rob had made is Gilbert inspired move and I knew I had to go right then. I kicked weaved, kicked again, weaved and kept going for it. Somehow I managed to not take anyone out and crested the hill in 3rd from what I thought was a doomed position. I kept what power I had left on for the final 200m and was closing on 2nd rapidly, I threw for the line but missed out on 2nd by half a wheel. As we rolled through the feeling was awesome, catching up with Rob celebrating his win was a great moment and I couldn’t believe I nabbed 3rd. Max and Kippo were both in the top 10 and I couldn’t imagine a better start to the weekend, with Anna grabbing 2nd in Women’s B the Blotto group were on a high.
The Lanky Stats
Normalised Power 289W
Max Power 1015W
Ave Speed 34.35km/h
Stage 2 was a big goal for me this year. I have lost a lot time in this stage in my previous 3 day tours so I really wanted to put in a decent performance. Everything went to plan in the lead up arriving with plenty of time to warm up on the trainer and ride to the start without any unnecessary stress. As I was being held at the start I remembered to start the Garmin but with only a couple of seconds before I set off I realised I was still on the hoods. I quickly jumped into the drops and I was off. It was a fast time trial with a strong southerly pushing everyone along. I quickly got onto the TT bars and settled in making sure I was hitting my aim of about 370W. Things got a little tricky on the mild descents as I debated with myself whether to get out of the tuck to pluck another gear or spin out and stay aero, but 60+km/h showed up on the Garmin so I figured spinning was going alright. Before I knew it the finish line was in sight and crossed the line thinking how quickly the time went and maybe I had too much left in the tank. Chatting with Rob and Kippo at the line they seemed fairly confident of a decent time and I as usual with TT’s I wasnt sure. We learnt on the roll back to race central from the Blotto cheer squad that Kippo monstered the TT and took out the win with Rob in 2nd. Max finished in 8th 1 second ahead of me in 9th. I was fairly happy with this considering that I would have even made 11th in B grade. Awesome work by Kippo and Rob who would have still 1st and 4th respectively in B grade. Again all Blotto were in the top 10.
The Lanky Stats
Normalised Power 384W
Ave Speed 42.75km/h
Stage 3 is always a difficult stage after the morning TT and a hard days racing prior. This was going to be a large factor in deciding the general classification. After the TT, Kippo was in yellow and Rob 2nd in GC so I had definitely become support for these 2. We rolled out and I started talking to Chris Wood of Phoenix racing commenting on how freakin cold it was. But it didn’t take long for me to say goodbye and head to the front to cover any attacks and make sure Kippo wasnt forced to do too much work. On my radar was Nick Liau, Phoenix racing, Jacob Mumford and Michael Corps. R33 threw the first attack which I initially let go until 2 more start to bridge to him, which I decided was too much. Not long after I caught them another attack came, which included Jacob Mumford and I was quick to chase this one down. R33 made another move which result in 4 riders just off and a Coburg rider decided to chase this down so I followed his wheel and the attack was again neutralised. One last attack was made by R33 and 2 riders made it off the front which finally everyone was happy to let go but all this led to a very fast start to a stage that is already difficult. Spending a couple of fuel tickets I sat in on the descent towards Metcalf and once again hopped on the front turning right out of Metcalf to protect Kippo who popped up next to me and reminded me the escapees were no threat to GC, but better me in front than him at this stage. I led the peloton onto the KOM hill to which the usual suspects threw themselves up the climb. I paced myself up slipping back in the group with Max keeping up the front. However 2 strong riders Nick Liau and Jacob Mumford broke off the front up the hill to join the 2 already up the road and this drove the pace a little uncomfortably for me. I sat in for 10-15km just trying to recover. By the time we passed the roundabout on Sutton Grange Road I was back up the front swapping turns when I could trying to help keep the pace on to chase what was now only 2 up the road. Max remained up the front all this time keeping the pressure on.
The rolling sections here were a difficult part of the stage with very little time for recovery and even when I was following a wheel I felt I was working harder than I should have been. We began the climb from the left hand turn at the monument and it was here I started to really feel the effects of not looking after my race nutrition realising I hadn’t eat much at all. After the climb I slipped to the back of the group and that set the tone for the rest of the stage for me. I was no longer going to be any use so decided to do my best to survive. After turning back towards Metcalf still approximately 30km from the finish going up a small rise I started hearing grunts, panting and general swearing at what must have only been that unrelenting phenomenon called gravity. I looked up and found myself in a very unfortunate select bunch of riders who had fallen off the back of the bunch. I made big effort to bridge back to the bunch and left the others to suffer by themselves for the rest of the stage. From here at every rise I yo-yo’d off the back too many times to count and knew that the final climb would be the end of me. I just hoped I wouldn’t be the only one to drop off so I would have some protection from the headwind home. Drinking and a gel didn’t seem to help and sure enough no more than a few meters into the final climb I was off the back leaving a mushroom cloud behind me. Of course no one else popped and I was left with a long cold 10km to reflect on the pain in my legs and disappointment of being dropped. I finally crossed the line 8 minutes down on the winner and got the rundown from Rob and Max as they waited for Anna to finish in the Womens B race. It seemed Jacob was in a league of his own today and we had lost the yellow jersey but still had Kippo in 2nd and Rob in 4th. With Max working hard for those 2 during the stage I dont think there was much more they could do. I rolled back to race central pretty broken and disappointed. In reflection maybe it was a combination of not eating enough and that lack of training that led to me being dropped but C grade was faster than B on that stage so I took some consolation in that. It was time to recover for the final stage as best I could to help Rob get onto that GC podium and keep Kippo there.
The Lanky Stats
Normalised Power 272W
Max Power 1104W
Ave Speed 33.9km/h
The aim for today: keep Kippo on the podium and also get Rob onto it. Rob needed to gain 3 seconds on Richard McCorkell in 3rd to get on the GC podium and given that the KOM was all sewn up by Nick Liau the hope was that we could sneak Rob and Kippo some bonus seconds on the first KOM of the day. My legs were sore from yesterdays smash fest, I didn’t get to warm and I was pretty nervous about this given how broken I was yesterday. I rolled out mid pack and needed to get to the front quickly as I knew the KOM occurred only about 7km in. I saw rob up the front about 6th wheel and I squeezed my way up the centre of the road flirting with the centre line and got towards the front. I thought at this point the lack of warm up was a massive mistake but thankfully no major attacks came at that point and I was able to recover before jumping on the front trying to set a tempo higher enough to discourage anyone thinking of making an early bid for the bonus seconds. However no more than 1km from the bottom of the climb phoenix really pushed the pace and came round me and I was working hard to hold 3rd wheel. As soon as the climb started it seemed the KOM bonus seconds were getting the interest we hoped wouldn’t be there. I followed the moves and was in the front bunch of 5 or 6 when I looked around for Rob who had the pain face on with about a 10-15m gap behind me. It was then I realised the bonus seconds weren’t on and I slipped back to Rob to help punch a hole in the wind for him up the climb. There was some nervousness around that the group up front would break away but it all came back together on the descent when I think it was Kippo kept the pace on. I sat in for a bit and a few kilometres later asked Rob how he was feeling which was answered with a not so confident “hmmmm yeah”. It was all down to a bunch finish for us now and for the remainder of the first lap we all sat in and left the work for the yellow jersey to chase down the numerous Italo rider attacks. Lap 2 was fairly uneventful from my standpoint as I continued to sit in, making sure this time that I ate and drank this time. Thankfully my legs were actually feeling really good and I let rob know I would stick with him up the final climb to try and bring across any gaps that might occur. Coming into the final KOM climb on the third and last lap of the day I found that I sat in the bunch too long and couldnt make my way towards what ended up being 3 very organised blotto riders who were all together towards the front.
The pace was high enough to string the peloton out into single file and I had to make my move up to the guys during the climb but I managed to get there and was on front before we crested. Not the easiest way for me to move up but I got it done. One rider was off the front and I began the chase keeping him insight and slowly closing the gap into McMasters lane to which I flicked the elbow and got some help from one phoenix working for Chris Wood. With his effort the rider was brought back just as we turned left out McMasters lane. Another solo attack was launched off the front which I was pretty happy to let go but Kippo came flying past. That was the signal nothing was to get away now so I jumped back on the front to control the lone Italo rider ahead. The gap probably got to around 30 seconds and we had him in control with the yellow jersey also helping at the front. He was eventually brought back and I sat on the front to try and keep the tempo high enough limit attacks swapping occasionally with the phoenix rider all the while I noticed Nick Liau was on my wheel and even when I left gaps he would not come round. I knew he was up to something so was keeping a very close eye on him. I looked around and Blotto was all over the front of the bunch, it was a great sight. I did another turn on the front and just before I was going to swing off Nick launched a brutal attack up a slight rise trying to use his small size to his advantage. There was no way I was letting him go and I kicked hard to get on his wheel but Nick’s attack lasted for what seemed an eternity and doubt started to creep in whether I could continue to hold his wheel, but thankfully he gave up and turned off the relentless pace and swung off. All I wanted to do at this point was stay on his wheel and recover but after a few seconds of recovery I gradually increased the tempo after I looked around and still saw Max Rob and Kippo all there. Max and I continued on at the front when 1 rider jumped around us and I chased him down and latched onto his wheel and this effort really, really hurt but I looked around and found that no one else followed. It was just the two of us off the front just before the left hand turn onto the 3km or so drag to the finish. With the slight incline of the road the other rider urged me to roll turns and I was torn as to whether it was a good thing if we survived and took potential time bonuses away from Kippo and Rob. At this point a 3rd rider bridged to us and blew right by us and I had nothing left to follow and it was a matter of seconds before the bunch also blew by. I was done and yelled some encouraging abuse at Max, Rob and Kippo as they flew by for the final 1.5km to the line. I rolled across the line some 20 seconds or so after the bunch looking at Jess and the cheer squad to let me know the result. “Rob won” she yelled. BOOM! I slammed the bars in celebration. Found the guys up the road and confirmed Rob took the win with Kippo in 4th and Max 5th. All this meant Rob actually jumped Kippo and took 2nd in GC while Kippo still held 3rd. Blotto 2 and 3 on the podium…how good is that.
The Lanky Stats
Normalised Power 283W
Max Power 1072W
Ave Speed 36.32km/h
Overall it was a great weekend. Anna pretty much cleaned everything up in Women’s B and Blotto jerseys were making regular trips up to presentations in C grade. Coming in with little expectation and coming out being part of a successful team and grabbing a podium on stage 1 was awesome. I have never really raced as part of a team and it really adds some different perspective on a race I really only have done solo. It also allows for motivation even on the personal bad days when you can share in everyone’s success. Well done all and I cant wait to race with everyone again soon and look forward to next years 3DT.