2017 National Tour of Canberra

National Tour, Canberra.  23/24 September 2017.

The races consisted of 4 grades, A-D for men and A-B for the ladies.

The first race was 57 kms Men’s D grade.

Our entry for this event was Bernie I’ons. The hard part of this race was the last 3 kms, all uphill, just like the first part of Mt Keira. Standing on the sidelines watching Bernie race, I could see that nothing much was going to happen until the group reached the bottom of the climb. For some, this was when the race was to begin. With about 3 kms before the start of the climb, Bernie attacked the bunch, and got a good lead of about 30 seconds. He held the gap to the start of the climb. About ½ way up the climb, Bernie still had a 20 metre lead over a chasing rider. The bunch was a good 150 metres behind, scattered all over the climb. I knew Bernie was a good climber, but this young lad was hunting him down. By the time they crossed the line, youth had conquered over Bernie. Bernie rode a fantastic race and came in 2nd place, well ahead of the chasing bunch.

I had entered for the event, but came down with the flu the day before. I still went down to give some encouragement from the sidelines.

Men’s B grade: 94 kms. Dave Raymond.

Dave was up against some handy riders in this race. I had noticed some had ridden A grade in other events throughout the year, so Dave was going to have a tough race today. The first part of this circuit at Majura winery is rather flat. The issue for the riders on both days would be the strong crosswinds, and there was nowhere to hide in this race.

Throughout this out and back course, Dave was always near or at the front of the bunch. With the final lap nearing completion, the mountain was the next challenge.  Dave was riding about 12th wheel at the base of the climb, and ride very strong to hold onto his position to the finish line. This was a great result considering the top field in the B grade event.

Men’s C grade: 75 kms, Jason Hogan.

C grade was like the other grades, the bunches stayed together due to the strong crosswinds until the base of the mountain. Only in the men’s A grade did a 2-man break go up the road and hold onto the finish.

During Jason’s race, he was holding a great position in the field each time he came past the spectator area. Never too far from the front, and always doing his share of the work. I did speak to another rider in the C grade race and he indicated out of the 40 riders, only about 6 were doing turns.  That sounds so familiar in racing.

I walked about 2 kms up the mountain to watch all our riders make the final climb to the finish. I’ve posted some photos of today’s race on our site. As C grade commenced the climb, Jason was about 20th wheel. This was going to be a challenging task climbing back positions, but he did work hard on the climb and finished in the top 15.

Women’s A grade 75 kms: Chloe Heffernan.

The ladies race was the same course at the men’s C grade.  The first 72 kms along a fast rolling surface. I sat up on the mountain watching the ladies ½ way up the climb. As the group hit the base of the mountain, Chloe was sitting in the top 5 ladies, with 1 rider about 20 metres up the road. Chloe did an excellent job to hang onto the lead group and came in with a credible 6th place on the stage. This result was exceptional considering Chloe is concentrating on the upcoming track season.

National Capital Tour Stage 2: Kermesse Majura Winery to Mt. Majura | Saturday 23rd September 2017

Men’s A: 34.2km (5 Laps). Former Illawarra rider Zac Marshall who now rides for St George, rode a fantastic race and came 3rd amongst a top field in this event. Zac has had great success recently with wins in the Wagga 2-day tour. I’ve posted a couple of photos of Zac on the podium and racing on the weekend.  Zac is wearing the red/white kit. I should mention to Illawarra riders who maybe up against him in a sprint, be prepared.

Men’s B: 28.5km (4 Laps) The Kermesse was conducted on a shortened road course from the morning’s event. By the time the race came around the wind had now picked up to gale force crosswinds. If you found yourself out in the wind, it could mean the end of the race for you. Many riders were getting dropped in Dave’s grade. Dave held a great position throughout the event, and finished right up there with the best of them. Again, in the top 15.

Men’s C: 22.8km (3 Laps) Jason had another great race to back up his morning effort. C grade took off at a rate of knots, roaring down to the turn in about 5 minutes. The push back up the start/finish was a much harder affair. Now the wind was coming head on down the straight. With bonus time sprints occurring each of the 3 laps, a long lead out was not a clever idea. On the first sprint, Jason was about 10th, and in the 2nd sprint came 4th.  Each time the group hit the turn to commence the lap, Jason was always inside the top 10. Too many riders were being dropped at the turn, due to the explosive speed of the bunch with the tailwind. Some riders had recorded 70 kph down the straight.

As the group came into view to finish the race, Jason was sitting about 3rd wheel in a perfect position. Within seconds, someone had made a stupid turn in the bunch causing Jason and another rider to get pushed out onto the gravel.  With a lot of jostling in the bunch, a group of riders came in 10 bikes wide over the finish line. What a great race and a solid performance from Jason.  Not many riders finished in the bunch.

Men’s D: 17.1km (2 Laps) With Bernie sitting in 2nd place in the tour, he needed a good result to try and claw back some of the 30 seconds he needed to take the lead. This race was just like the other grades, no one really wanting to leap out of the bunch, and try and battle the winds on their own. In the first sprint Bernie came 4th, and in the last sprint for overall victory, Bernie came in around 6th place. This tour was not over for Bernie yet, he still had the criterium tomorrow on the Mt Stromlo circuit.

Women’s A: 22.8km (3 Laps) The ladies race was very fast indeed. From the outset Chloe was the most aggressive rider in the bunch. At times Chloe and 2 other ladies had a break on the bunch, only to be pulled back when riding into the strong headwinds. Chloe was right up there in the lap sprints and did a great job in sprinting for 4th place in the event.

National Capital Tour Stage 3 – Criterium Stromlo Forest Park Criterium Circuit | Sunday 24th September 2017

Men’s A: 55mins + 2 Laps In this race Zac had a tough day out. Each lap, riders were being dropped. The big problem in this race were riders being dropped and causing gaps in the field. Eventually, Zac got caught out, and couldn’t bridge the gap. He pushed on forming another group to ride with for the remainder of the event. I should mention that Joel Walsh from the NRS GPM team had a great ride in this event.

Men’s B: 45mins + 2 Laps I didn’t get to see Dave’s race as it started at 9.30 am, and Jason didn’t start till 12.30 pm, and I don’t like getting out of bed early. Dave had another strong race finishing in the same time as the tour winner. A very good weekend for Dave.

Men’s C: 35mins + 2 Laps The average lap times for C & B grade were very close in this race. The criterium also had 2 sprints throughout the race and Jason came 5th in the first sprint. The next 10 minutes of the race appeared to go up a notch in intensity. People were getting dropped on every corner. Even down the main straight, the speed was causing the tail enders to call it a day. Their race was over.

With 10 minutes to go, a break in the field occurred. Jason got caught up in the 2nd bunch, and now had a battle on his hands to try and regain contact with the lead group. With 2 other riders helping him, this was going to a tough ask.

As riders from the lead group were getting dropped, Jason’s group was getting larger every lap. As each lap passed, the time gap between the lead and Jason’s group remained the same. The gap would remain this way all the way to the finish.

Men’s D: 30mins + 2 Laps This was the race Bernie had to win to have a chance of taking the lead in the tour. When I arrived at the circuit there was 3 minutes and 2 laps remaining in the event. I could see Bernie had broken away from the bunch and had 25 second lead. If he held on to this margin and gained 10 seconds bonus for winning the stage, he would win the C grade tour.

With the 2 laps remaining, Bernie was still in with a chance. The chasing bunch was being driven along by Dominique who was riding for his friend Dave Mullens of the Eurobodalla club. Bernie held on for a great solo victory. Unfortunately for Bernie, 7 seconds cost him the tour. Still, it was a great result for Bernie and shows he’s coming into some great form.

Women’s A: 35mins + 2 Laps This was a great race for Chloe. Considering how well she can sprint, this was the race Chloe had a great chance of winning. The ladies race was punctuated with attack after attack. Chloe was never far from the front of the race, and this is why she is a great tactician when it comes to sprinting.

With the race coming to an end, Chloe had great position coming into the final straight. The tour leader was close right next to her as they approached the finish line. 3 ladies hit the line together, with Chloe taking out 2nd place, and the tour leader coming in 3rd. For a lady who has concentrated on track performance lately, this weekend shows Chloe is in for a great track season.

Now it’s always important to get a rider’s view of the race. Dave Raymond has kindly given a race report on the National Tour.

National Capital Tour B grade report by Dave Raymond;

This was my first race for a couple of months so was hoping for some fast racing to get some race fitness and I got it. I entered B grade knowing there would be riders a lot stronger but my goal was to finish with the main group on each stage.

Stage 1 on Saturday morning was a 90km road race – 5 laps of a 17.5k out and back course on closed roads then a 3km finishing climb.

Stage 2 on Saturday afternoon was a short “Kermesse” using part of the morning’s road course and the wind had really picked up. There were 4 laps of 2.5km downwind and 2.5km back. Needless to say, the downwind legs were really strung out at 60k+ and quite a few guys were spat either due to the speed or not recovering from the morning.

Stage 3 on Sunday morning is a 45-minute criterium on the “Steven Hodge circuit” at Mt Stromlo. It is a great course with sweeping bends and never really needing to touch the brakes. It was fast and windy once more.

I achieved my goal (note that there was a sub clause that said I only needed to be in the main group at the bottom of the finishing climb in stage 1) so was happy with the weekends racing.

It is a very well organised event. The multiple laps meant that you go past the start-finish multiple times in each stage and it was good to hear the support from club mates each time around. The only down side (apart from the wind) was that the different grades raced at different times, sometimes a few hours apart, so you couldn’t always see your club mates race. But this is a side effect of racing on closed roads and circuit courses so I can’t complain too much.

Results are here:

To all the riders, parents and coaches who supported our ICC members, a big thank you.

Safe riding

Terry Wall