Having helped his teammate Lachlan Norris to win the recent Tour of Tasmania, Drapac Professional Cycling’s Rhys Pollock is eyeing what could be his second win at the historic Melbourne to Warrnambool this weekend. It’s a race he’s had a strong passion for since his first participation in 1999 and it would take until 2010 before he finally won the race in brutally-tough conditions that had the peloton battered by rain, sleet and wind gusts up to 60km/h.
Pollock admits that he doesn’t enjoy the difficult weather conditions often encountered during Australia’s longest one-day race but that it doesn’t change his attitude in the race. He would rather race in the sun and without wind but he recognises that if conditions turn foul come, others will suffer more than himself.
"I dislike it [bad weather] as much as anyone. I’d much rather race in the sunshine with no wind but I guess that sort of weather suits me. I don’t lose motivation if rains or gets windy or slow. I just keep going," Pollock told Cyclingnews.
"That year [in 2010] was pretty slow that’s for sure. I was really starting to cramp at the end but I guess if it’s like that again then so be it. If we have a day like that hopefully I can replicate it again."
Returning back to his home city of Melbourne and his full-time job as a draftsman, Pollock says it’s not just about being physically ready for a race like Melbourne to Warrnambool. The 262km distance is something most of the domestic riders are unfamiliar with and it’s just as important to be mentally prepared for these longer races.
"I think the Warny is about being mentally ready as much as physically ready. Being prepared for a long day and trying to be smart about how you use your energy throughout the day. If you waste too much energy early in the race or even the half-way point, you are going to pay for it later on," he said.
"Nutrition and hydration obviously comes into play as well. For most guys in Australia we don’t race this kind of distance. Goulburn to Sydney is about 170km and besides Grafton [to Inverell] there aren’t many races of that kind of distance. Everyone is sort of in the same boat so it’s a matter of managing it throughout the day."
While Pollock would love to win Warrnambool for a second time, he’s entering the race with a powerful eight-man Drapac team that he adds could see any of them win the Australian classic.
"It’s one of my favourite races of the year, it always has been. This year I think it will be very interesting. We’ve got a really strong team for the race. Darren [Lapthorne], Lachie, Floris [Goesinnen], Gordon [McCauley]. I think any one of us has a chance to win it. Everyone will be trying to get the numbers in the front and hopefully we can do something special.
"Of course I’d love to win it again and I think some of the other guys would love to win it as well. Being such a tough and long race you just never know what can happen.
"You might have good legs but maybe only for 180km, not 260 so it’s just a matter of seeing how you feel on the day.
A second Melbourne to Warrnambool victory would be the ideal way to finish the season for Pollock who began his year by winning the general classification at the UCI 2.1 Tour de Taiwan and most recently won the KOM classification at Gouburn to Sydney. In 2013, Pollock is still motivated to race but he’ll step down from the Continental-registered squad while continuing to race domestically.
"I’ll be 33 next year so it’s time to start looking at other things I would like to do in life. I still want to stay with the team next year as I really enjoy racing with the guys we’ve got. Hopefully I can pass on some of my experience to some of the younger guys on the team," Pollock told Cyclingnews.
"I’ll probably just race in Australia next year but without the added pressure of being registered on the Continental team and having to maintain a certain amount of racing overseas.
"I’ll be doing Shipwreck [Coast Classic] but I won’t be doing Grafton. I think after this weekend I’ll take a couple of weeks off and just have a little bit of a rest. It’s been a good year so we’ll just have to see how this weekend goes."