January 22, 2006
Another scorcher produced by mother nature was what we faced once again at this morning's start. The past three days of heat has broken a 60 year record of 40° temps in a row and tomorrow looks like making it four in a row. Can't wait. Should be a treat.
147 km starting and finishing in Willunga, three laps of 40 km past the coastal region of Aldinga Beach and Port Willunga. Temps weren't much cooler down there really but the bikini clad chicks and the other beach goers looked to be enjoying it. A lot of guys were keen as to get into the break once again. So it was on from the gun.
By the 20 km mark, a group went clear with Sergey and Phil from us up there! I thought we only had one up there so I attacked across to two other lads tryin to get across. James Meadley from SA.com and Sean Sullivan from UniSA. We made it across and off we set on a long hot summer's ride. To my surprise, Sergey was there, which was good as he was high up on GC for us. So it was up to Phil and I to look after him which turned out to be quite a job as he wasn't feeling good at all. I think the weather had basically fried all his circuits and he never recovered. We kept the water flowing and did the best we could.
The break blew out to eight and a half minutes at one point, but by the time we hit the climb, it was back to around four. Ag2r and the Liberty lads kept the tempo high enough to stop any guys in the break gaining too much time on the other riders.
Paul Crake set off right at the bottom of the climb, taking teammate Russell Van Hout with him and a couple of others who were later dropped halfway up. I couldn't go right at the bottom but found a good rhythm and eventually caught the three guys in front of me by the top. Sergey popped right at the bottom, unfortunately, which was the end of his day. Phil rode himself over in the third group on the climb and cruised to the finish in 11th or 12th. self I had my own fun, a flat rear Meanwhile, with me up front, the chase was on to catch the two UniSA riders. I had a Lotto, Milram and Bouygues Telecom rider with me, the latter two didn't do a hell of a lot to help with the chasing! They probably made things worse by getting in the way.
We also had an AS.com rider with us, Matthew Lloyd. But he started hallucinating and apparently crashed. Nasty!
We never caught the two up the road and were racing for third. The group behind were nipping on our heels with 2 km to go thanks to the soft pedaling of the Frenchie and the ITalian. With 600m to go, surprise, surprise, the French lad hit out. I gave chase but to no avail. He ran third and I got rolled for fourth by Johan Van Summeren. He worked hard so no probs. I ran fifth which I was happy enough with. It was one of the toughest days on the steed I have had for a while. But good preparation for my next race, the Tour of California. Should be a ripper!
Stage 5: A rough ride, but it's all over
Hey troops, well it's all over! Simon Gerrans started in the leader's jersey and finished in it as well. A nice performance by the team in some wild conditions.
The final stage was run around a 4.5 km circuit in Adelaide City. Originally 20 laps, they decided to cut it to 18 due to the once again hot temps and now a strong, strong breeze. Setting off at 1:30pm in front of a massive crowd, it wasn't long before the attacks began. Hilton, my teammate, was the first to attack, forming a nice group which seemed good! They never really got a good lead and were brought back after a couple of laps.
Meanwhile, with myself I had my own fun: A flat rear, a lap chase, a cassette that didn't like my chain, and eventually a complete bike swap! I punctured on lap 3 and changed my bike on lap 10 so I had some real fun for a while. I guess it made the time go quicker.
Also, I spent the race throwing half empty bidons to my bro and a couple of mates seeing who could pull off the best classic catch.
The stage came down to a mass sprint for the first time this tour, and it was Alby Davis half a wheel in front of Robbie McEwen and third place to the Italian Cadamuro. Tour done and the hottest conditions I have ever raced in. I train in this stuff up in Rocky so it's not so fun when ya head a few thousand k's south and still find it down here. I'll still be hanging out down here till the 7th of Feb before heading to the States for my first assault on the American soil. So till then a heap of training, spending a bit of quality time with my wife Isabelle before she leaves on the 25th :-(
Heading to the One Day cricket on Australia Day. Australia vs South Africa! Should be a beauty.
Thanks for reading my daily reports and keep an eye out for more tales from far away.
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