FELT - Shimano Dream Team Diaries 2006 - October 20, 2006
Stage Three: Hidden Valley - Lamond's Lagoon, 156 km
The FELT - Shimano Dream Team's strategy began to take form today during the longest stage of the 2006 Crocodile Trophy. From the first pedal stroke of the 156 km stage, the boys in green had a plan. Valentine Zeller finished a comfortable third into the enchanting Lamond's Lagoon after beating the current race leader by the width of a tyre - letting a few cards show to the other overall contenders. Zeller commented: "The equipment is perfect, my bike is perfect. I am feeling more comfortable with the longer stages. I'll get stronger over the distance."
The Dream Team is currently leading the team competition by nearly and hour and this just the third stage of the 13 stage event.
Even the FELT Most Aggressive rider competition is sitting quite securely with today's stage winner Stefan Rucker, who had a massive solo effort out the front today. A disaster yesterday saw Rucker make a wrong turn after 100 km, while riding alone out the front, resulting in a loss of 20 minutes on the race leaders. So today when Rucker jumped away from the group of five, including Dream Team's Zeller, he was left to his own plan while the remaining leaders were only thinking of the overall competition.
Zeller was more than aware that both of his Dream Team team-mates were just 15-minutes behind the leaders and that as a result conserved energy by not pushing the pack harder. This Dream Team tactic was met with much distain from the three other race leaders but Zeller was not phased: "It's always this way with the Dream Team." Current race leader Heinz Zorweg is competing as an individual in his second Crocodile Trophy, hence his frustration with the Dream Team tactic. 'C'est la vie' was the attitude in the camp.
Darren O'Grady and David Wood rode the entire stage with Wood's former team mate, Stran Lamont, who snapped his saddle in half 45 km into the stage. Lamont rode over 100 km on a broken saddle, with a Dream Team custom Selle Italia saddle in his pocket 'just in case'.
OGrady said with a big grin: " All I could think about for the last 50 km today was the icy cold Cooper's that would be mine upon arrival." True to form, Darren downed a coldie within minutes of arrival into the Dream Team compound. O'Grady is getting stronger by the minute and truly loving this ride in the outback.
David Wood had another strong performance today, riding smooth and easy all day. Wood and O'Grady have their sights set on the Koombaloomba stage in two days time. Incidentally, the Dream Team won the Koombaloomba stage in 2004 with Alberto Elli and struck disaster in the same stage in 2005 when Mauro Bettin punctured four times on the stage. Surely the Green Machine will be prepared fore anything in 2006!
Now after a long five-hours and 16-minutes in the saddle, the Dream Team is taking a massage and enjoying the almost jungle like sounds of the outback - fire side!