Graeme Brown believes his Urban Hotels squad will need to rethink its tactics if he is to maintain his Jayco Bay Cycling Classic lead through the remaining two races of the event. While Brown still leads the series a victory by Mazda’s Greg Henderson on today’s race puts him and teammate Robbie McEwen on 14 points overall, just five behind Brown.
"Today I rode more on form than anything else, I didn’t really think about it too much," said Brown. "I probably had too-good-a-legs for my head. I’m definitely going to have to revisit mine and the team’s tactics for tomorrow because I think Robbie’s team is going to cause a few problems for sure."
"I want to talk to the team a bit today, after this race," said Brown. "We’re going to have to think about it some more, I don’t want to give out too many details, but I’ll be happy if it comes to a sprint. I think I’m definitely sprinting better than anyone else, regardless of the situation. We’ll have another chat and make a game plan for tomorrow, it’s going to be another tough day, especially after today as everyone’s legs will be sore and they’ll be kicking out of corners 100-odd times tomorrow."
While Brown admitted both he and the team made mistakes on the difficult 1.8 kilometre circuit today, he was delighted with the support his teammates provided. Brown will have to defend his lead over Chris Sutton (Skilled/Lowe Farms), on 17 points, Matthew Goss (Team Degani Cycling Café) on 14 and the Mazda duo on the hot dog and rectangular criterium courses that remain.
"Unreal. The Urban Hotels guys were unreal again," said Brown. "They were in almost every move. We made a few mistakes today and that probably cost us the race - I think I always had the legs to win today - but we’re not a ProTour team."
McEwen says Brown needs to step-up in Europe
Brown admitted comments made by Robbie McEwen on Saturday, where he suggested Brown needs to carry his strong domestic form to Europe instead of leaving it in Australia, were accurate. McEwen and Brown have shared a fierce rivalry during the Bay Cycling Classic over the years, with McEwen winning six titles and Brown one.
"I came to breakfast this morning and a few of my teammates were poking fun at me saying ‘oh, it’s on, it’s on with Robbie’. I read it and went, 'well, he was taking the piss out of me but it was all factual'," said the 30-year-old. "I do, 99 per cent of the time, leave my form in Australia, so he has a point, I do need to step up, but I have revised my training over the last few years and won races, I only won two races in Australia last year.
"He’s right, but he’s not pointing out something I don’t know or anything most people in cycling here in Australia don’t know either," he added.
A day earlier, McEwen had said Brown needs to win regularly in Europe to gain his squad’s confidence to take him to bigger races like the Grand Tours.
"Over the last years Brownie tended to leave his best form in Australia in January. But you know, he’s still maturing, he’s not old by any means," said McEwen. "He’s got to translate the form and fitness he has here in Australia to Europe and start winning races over there. I think he had five wins last season but when you’re fast you should be able to win between eight and 12 probably. I think he’s at an age where it’s time to step up and win a stage of a Grand Tour like the Giro or the Vuelta, so he’s got a little way to go but he is doing well.
"I think he can perform better as he matures and gains experience in races, maybe if he gets support from his own team to take him to the big races and support him in them," he added. "To do that, you’ve got to win regularly on the European scene to gain the confidence of your own team. They don’t really care much what he does in the Bay Crits, they want to see him win in Europe that’s when he’ll get support to win in bigger races."
Asked whether he thought McEwen’s comments were designed to assist or annoy him, Brown responded: "Both. It’s Robbie, he’s always got something up his sleeve, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was to annoy me but it is right, he’s correct what he’s saying. So it’s probably a bit of both."