National Road Race Championships 2015
High Performance Squad Fuelled by Huon Salmon
2015 marked an important milestone for para cycling in SA. Cycling SA not only managed to secure the rights to host the National Road Championships, but they also managed to see an International UCI event hosted on the same course the weekend before the Nationals. This was an enormous advantage for the Tandem Project in terms of reducing the very significant costs of seeing the squad transported interstate. Transport and travel expenses for more than 20 personnel is no small dent on the team account. The team already provides the licensing for our Elite pilots and kit registration for the entire squad.
The UCI International Road Event saw tandems compete from Malaysia, New Zealand and Korea. It was a valuable and rare opportunity for our High Performance Tandems in particular to lock horns with a high calibre field. Our sponsors were well represented by the team, and provided additional assistance for this event. Mercedes-Benz Adelaide provided a beautiful E350 as the Chief Commissars’ vehicle, while City Crane Trucks provided transport for the Malaysian Team to and from the airport for the event. Our Results for the UCI Event were Bronze in the Time Trial for Kieran Modra and his pilot Nathan Hunter. Kieran and Nathan also secured the Silver medal in the Road Race, with team young gun Beau Wootton and his pilot Mike Hoile snapping up a notable fourth place.
The squad was back at it the very next weekend – including the girls who were absent at the UCI event as a result of Lizzie’s pilot riding in the Tour of Adelaide for the Elite Women’s Team. The results were again a solid representation of the squad’s development thus far. Lizzie and pilot Victoria took out the Silver Medal for both the Time Trial and the Road Race. Our men were more consistent this year with both Silver (Murphy/Parsons) and Bronze (Modra/Hunter) for the Time Trial, an event which failed to yield results in 2014. Our rising star Beau Wootton suffered a heart breaking mechanical, with a flat tyre in the closing kilometre which subsequently caused the pair to crash – prior to this they were in razer hot form and would have given the podium tandems a fair bump. The Road Race was a similar script, with the team securing Silver (Modra/Hunter) and Bronze (Williams/Miller), but left us all thinking of what could have been. Modra/Hunter also suffered an ill-timed mechanical in the final sprint for the line – the bike jamming and nearly taking Modra/Hunter, the defending champion down. Watch this space for next year though – some serious unfinished business for a number of our high performance members.
Road Development Program Powered by Clipsal
Welcome back Captain Mike!
The Development Program suffered an enormous set back as a result of a serious accident involving our most senior trainer. Mike Hoile broke his collar bone in October of 2014, and the above events proved to be a major challenge to his physical fitness. As per usual, the road to recovery is never simple, and three weeks out from the UCI event, after having been on the bike for only a couple of weeks, Mike was to experience a subsequent and serious tandem crash. Mike was out on a training ride with high performance stoker Damien Williams, when a front tyre blew out heading around a corner. The two crashed heavily and both required hospitalisation. Damien seriously injured his shoulder but was subsequently cleared of fractures. Mike broke several ribs, but heading into the UCI and Nationals Event we were presented with pilot shortages, and Mike put aside his considerable pain and discomfort to pilot at both events. It is this sprit that makes Mike such an important asset to our team, and we are very relieved that he has made a full return to the program.
We still have some pretty impressive achievements even in the off-season. With assistance from the Blind Sporting Council – now named Eye Play Sport, the team has acquired two more tandems, both of which purchased for individual athletes. These acquisitions are essential in freeing up equipment for Development Squad candidates. As always we are enormously grateful for all of the contributions we receive. Tandem sport is very expensive and our goal is to make our athletes as independent as possible in respect to equipment.
We were very happy to join Eye Play Sport at their annual fundraising ball. Our big surprise for the night was the Memorial Scholarship Prize being awarded to Kieran Murphy. This is the second year that the award has gone to Tandem Project graduates. We wish Kieran ongoing success – he certainly has our backing.
EMBA – Ozone Cleaning Specialists
Elite Women’s Update
The Elite Women represented the team proudly at the State Veterans State Titles, with three riders coming away with Gold Medals in their categories. Victoria also came away with the course record for a tough and reasonably hilly MacLaren Flat course.
State Open Road Race
We had a very wobbly start to the Elite Women’s State Road Race yesterday but ultimately finished with our girls in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. Team Captain Lucy Barker (in her lights view kit) was still very ginger around injuries sustained in her recent Battle of the Border. VV was riddled with a cold and had been off the bike most of the week. Narelle still considers herself well off her NRS form (that makes her peak form pretty scary).
Victoria decided to scratch the night before on account of her head feeling like an unexploded land mine, but then thought she may as well be useful for as long as her lungs could keep her out of oxygen debt.
It was though the field could be kept under enough steady pressure to break up at the end of the first lap with no risk of Lucy or Narelle being dropped. Victoria was expected to last a lap – hence husband Veitch having packed NO lunch, warm clothes or anything else required at the end of a long race!
From the very beginning, Victoria gently took control of the pace, sitting on the front at about 70% effort levels to see what would happen. Jess Mundy and Kim Pederson also gave a turn before Victoria took up the work again as the field rounded into the first moderate level climb. To the surprise of Victoria and Lucy, the field had split within the first 5km! Victoria looked behind her to see Lucy and Jess easily pacing behind her and the trio were away. Jess and Lucy took up the pace setting and the hammer was put down. The task now was not a 44km break away but a more than 90km breakaway.
Photos courtesy of Ben Auld
A glance behind sighted Kim Pederson trying to cross the gap so the group reassessed. Kim was clear of pursuit and would be valuable in helping the breakaway survive. Four riders had a better shot than three. The girls worked smoothly and evenly, with the pace on the hills moderated to protect Kim, who returned the assistance with powerful efforts on the downhills and flatter sections. The group had two minutes at the end of one lap.
A third of the way into the second lap and Kim succumbed to the hills – without additional time checks the trio of Lucy, VV and Jess couldn’t afford to wait. Meanwhile back in the pack, Narelle, having been also caught by surprise at the early capitulation of the field, had been too far down the pack to go with the break. In typical hard-nut Narelle style, she rode away from the bunch she was riding with and spent an entire lap by herself – in steady pursuit of Kim, now also riding by herself.
At the front of the race, little red lights were going off in Victoria’s head – she loosened her helmet to reduce the now pounding headache. The power was also starting to fade, fatigue taking its toll. There was no such flagging for Lucy and Jess who were as relentless as they were in the beginning. With Jess being a superb sprinter, the only option for Lucy and Victoria was to attack in the final 15km and try to get away, but to no avail. Jess was easily responding. Lucy launched an awesome sting in the last 5km which very nearly had Victoria flailing off the back altogether. Sheer stubbornness brought her back.
The finishing run was pretty predictable. Jess launching the smart attack prior to the chicane corner and powering away, Victoria out of cards to play gave chase, finishing second, Lucy closely behind in third.
Narelle was the fourth rider to cross, having caught and passed Kim. Kudos to both Kim and Narelle who spent so much time alone in the wind. Michelle Bloffwitch also had a gutsy ride to finish, while Development Rider Taylor Stewart had a taste for the work to be done to move ahead. Thanks to our supporters. A great result for the team and some significant improvements yet to come.
State Open Time Trial
The team was without our strongest time trailer for the State Titles, with Lucy away watching silly motor cars. Apparently flying to France business class to have pit-side seats for the Le Mans 24 hour Enduro was more important than defending the State Time Trial Title she has held for the last several years – go figure! Unfortunately for the team we weren’t going to be able to keep her title warm for her – Victoria still well down on form with two weeks of hard racing with a cold, and Nusha’s bike set up being about as aero as British double decker bus. We did as best we could to scrape a second place for Victoria – the effort literally swelling Victoria’s eyeballs to the point where she lost clear vision out of her right eye in the final 5 kilometres – NO more racing with colds! Our star of the day was Michelle Bloffwitch, who raced the Masters category and took gold in a solid performance. Rumour has it that Michelle actually likes time trialling, which places her in the same crazy basket as Captain Lucy!
Thank you as always to the incredible Cycling SA for organising and hosting the event, the volunteers, and Tina Jones Photography for capturing our exploding heads.