January 17, 2007
Its 2007 and time to start racing again!
After three months kicking around Rockhampton at my parents' place training and recovering from my torn calve muscle from a crash in Belgium in September, it was time to get amongst it again. So I jumped across the ditch from Australia to New Zealand to compete in the national championships of New Zealand. For those of you who didn't know, I was actually born over there and lived there until I was twelve. I had been racing on an Aussie license for a number of years and thought it was time to head back to grass roots and look to representing my country some day!
Nationals were held in Wellington, and it rained almost everyday except the race days. I lined up for the 40km time trial looking to try and get on the podium and ended up winning it by three seconds. What a start to the year! Needless to say I was pretty happy with myself, and that win really meant a lot to me.
Next was the road race, which was a damn hilly one, but a good one! If you won this race, you definitely earned it. The deserving winner was Julian Dean which means that this will be the first time that the black stripes will be seen in the pro peleton of Europe and the Tour de France. As for me, I ran out of legs with about 25km to go and managed fifth, which I was happy enough with!
Straight after the race, it was time to pack up everything and get ready for a 6 a.m. flight the next morning to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under (TDU). Legs are feeling good, so well see what happens?
First up, before the Tour gets underway, is the TDU Cycle Classic. A 50km criterium around the streets of Adelaide and heres how it panned out.
It didn't start to well for me. Ten minutes before the start, George the mechanic looked down at my steed and said "hey your bike's cracked." I thought he was joking but he wasn't. I had a nice crack around my left rear stay. I'm guessing it was damaged flying back from NZ. Thanks, Qantas, can't fault ya!
So I quickly jumped on one of the spares and headed around to the start line. It was a fast and furious 50km with several breaks attempting to stay off the front but with ten laps remaining, Lotto and CSC got organized at the front and pulled everything back for a bunch kick. Of the Navigators lads, Ben [Brooks] and Viktor [Rapinski] had Hilton [Clarke] sitting well up near the front and were keeping him calm for the final run into the finish. With a lap to go, they had him up onto [Robbie] McEwen's wheel and coming into the final 200m, he turned on the afterburners and stormed across the line narrowly missing out on the win! Hiltz ran second just behind Mark Renshaw with Simon Clarke coming in third (no relation to Hiltz). I'll also throw out a special mention to my old Rocky mate Miles Olman who's riding his first tour and decided to flap out in front today in a break for a few laps. He narrowly missed a prime which he later found out was for €500. He reckons if he had known, he would found a bit more horse power for it!
Anyway I'm off to bed, Stage 1 is tomorrow, and I've heard the temperatures will be a bit more pleasant. Fingers crossed!