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27
Nov

2016 Super Series – Rounds 5,6 and 7

Round 5 Hill Climb

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Hill Climb – nuff said really. The MBAB team does nothing better than climb hills. For this occasion, we even brought special filly Nusha Kerin out for a gallop. This frighteningly fast climber owns basically all the significant QOMs around Adelaide – some of them she claimed while six months pregnant! There’s not much to say in the reporting of a hill climb, other than to make noteworthy mention of Meg Lemon’s debut for the team. Meg has some serious climbing capabilities, and finished 8th on the day, an outstanding achievement without having some neuro-deficits to contend with. The team finished with all six riders in the top ten – in fact it was a MBAB white-wash of the top four, with Nusha, Narelle, Christina and Jess occupying 1st-4th respectively. An outstanding climb by USG’s Stacey Riedel threw a spanner in the MBAB cart, edging Lucy into 5th. USG backed up their 5th place with a sweeping performance that saw them grab the remaining points for the top ten.

Round 6 St Clair Criterium

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Generously sponsored by AV Jennings, the St Clair criterium made great use of a smooth street criterium course which forms a centre piece of the St Clair development. And boy did the heat give the ladies a tune up with a pretty 39 degrees on the start line. They all knew the pace would be fast straight away. A few riders tested the field within the first couple of laps. Victoria counter attacked one such attack, building a lead as she rounded the hair-pin end into the head wind. There she stayed for a few laps, taking maximum points in the first preme sprint. Maeve Maroney-Plouffe of SASI used her momentum in taking second place in the preme sprint, to cross to Victoria. The two riders worked to consolidate the lead. Alana Haansbergen from USG launched an impressive bid to cross to the two leaders, who lowered their work-rate briefly to allow Alana to join, and reduce the motivation of the bunch to close in on the trio. Alana did her best to dig-in, but succumbed to the pace just before the second preme sprint. Victoria and Maeve stayed clear to the end – an optimistic attack into the head wind by Victoria, in an attempt to dislodge Maeve, yielded naught. Maeve was strong enough to regather herself and head to the line with enough speed to grab first place. Back in the bunch, our sprinters were jockeying for position as a very much reduced and heat-affected bunch trudged through the final head wind section. Natalie Redmond, riding for SASI, made the smart jump into the last corner to take third place. Breanna was all guts and determination as she crossed the line for 4th, followed by Jessica in 5th and Madeleine in 6th – a very tidy finish by our ever-consistent sprinters. All but the Sprint Jersey and Best Young Rider (because we’re all old!) remains in MBAB hands, including the overall series lead by nearly 100 points.

Round 7 Criterium

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The last criterium of the Super Series was a nasty, windy and fast affair. At only 30 minutes plus two laps, the field was always going to be aggressive. All the teams made attempts to form a break-away. Breanna, Jessica, and Madeleine were carefully following the moves – knowing which break attempts were potentially dangerous, and which ones would be short lived. Bree and Jess were routinely in breaks, specifically aimed at keeping Jess in the Leader’s Jersey. Jess was also fighting hard to consolidate points in the Sprinter’s Jersey, having lost the jersey to Maeve of SASI in the double points round the week before. Stacey Riedel made several, stabbing moves off the front, earning the Most Aggressive Jersey for her efforts. USG also sparked a flurry heading into the last two laps with the now-reduced field scrambling for position. Maeve took another bite out of Jessica’s Leader’s Jersey with the win, but a second place still leaves Jess with wriggle-room heading into the Tour of The Barossa. Powerhouse Madeleine was barely edged out into 4th place by a fast finishing Danni MacKinery from SASI. Victoria, having huffed and puffed herself around all race on stale legs wobbled in for 6th, while Bree was desperately unlucky to get wobbled out of contention by riders failing to hold their lines in the approach to the finish.

24
Nov

2016 Super Series – Round 3 and 4

Hell of the North – Wallaroo Road Race

Report by Jessica Mundy, Photo thanks to Chameleon Photography

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The sun was shining and wind speeds were up on round three of the Adelaide Super Series. On the cards was a 75km race over two gravel sections, which tested the skills as well as the fitness of the riders. The course both started and finished at Wallaroo in South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. The team rode the winds well with cross, tail and head winds playing a role and leading to many changes in the direction of the bunch rotation.  A leg sapping head wind punished the peloton on the way to the turn-around point, and also nullified any serious attacks. The first major split however, occurred as the bunch rounded the turn-around cones. A strong move from Alex Manly splintered the bunch. She had a USG rider with her, and the two set about stretching the field. Victoria saw the move go, and drilled past several riders to bring herself up onto the wheel of the two attacking riders. There was a mad scramble of the riders behind to bring the bunch back together. Seeing that most of her team was intact, Victoria took several turns to keep the field from regrouping. Attacks continued onto the gravel sections after the wind on the open road prevented the chasing riders from closing the gap to the front bunch. Over the first gravel section splits started to form and the separations stuck. The final gravel section lead to attacks from Jenny MacPherson of USG, which were promptly followed by Mercedes and SASI. Disaster struck for Jenny – relegated with a puncture. Numbers were looking good for MBAB with four riders making up the surviving eight leading into the final kilometres. Our luck didn’t hold, with Narelle, and then Maddie both puncturing. A group of five joined together making a select bunch finish. Alex Manly edging out Jess coming down to the line. Victoria nabbed 5th, Maddie recovered from her puncture to finish 6th, while Narelle also regrouped to steal the last points on offer in 10th.

Hell of the North – Kadina Criterium

Report by Madeleine Steele, Photo thanks to Roger Welch

Except for a lucky few, every cyclist who lined up for Sunday’s criterium around Kadina’s Victoria Square had the sting of a very tough road stage in their legs from the day before. In the women’s race, it was Natalie Redmond, riding for the SASI team who got off to a flying start and had everyone chasing from the gun. Stacey Reidel (USG) was the first rider to take up the chase, closely followed by MBAB’s Maddie Steele.

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After the initial attacks were brought back and a bunch formed, Jessica Mundy and Victoria Veitch became MBAB’s most aggressive riders of the race – initiating and chasing attack after attack. On such a tight and technical circuit, not to mention the strong winds, this particular women’s criterium was the most animated of the Super Series so far.

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By the second prime, the pace had settled somewhat and Maddie had the legs to come out of the protection of the bunch to lead Jess out for the points jersey. At this point, attacks were neutralised quickly and several strong riders were marked closely and not allowed to get away.

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Clever team tactics from the USG Racing Team saw an attack from Jenny Macpherson closely followed up with another by her teammate, Chelsea Parbs. In their fatigue, the bunch let this attack go and it was not long before Parbs had a decent quarter of a lap lead on the rest of the field. With Victoria, Jess and Narelle having done a significant amount of work in the race already, Maddie knew she had been the most protected rider of the MBAB team. Maddie launched to try and pull back Parbs or get her teammates across to a break. The MBAB riders were in no such hurry, having faith that Maddie could catch Parbs and be well set for a sprint. They also knew that SASI was under the most pressure to chase if there was to be one. Maeve was working her guts out with precious little reinforcement from her team. Maeve looked over her shoulder hoping to find an ally, but Victoria was sitting on her wheel and simply gave Maeve a shake of her head. Frustrated, Maeve continued to dig in, with some late help arriving from Gemma of Chicks Who Ride Bikes, but the damage was done – the two leaders were not going to get caught with MBAB and USG having no need to aid the chase.

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It was agonising eight-minute effort that took Maddie deep into a very, very painful place but she caught Parbs with half a lap to go. Scraping together what was left of her sprinter’s legs, she attacked Parbs into the final corner and got away for the win.  It was an extremely strong team performance by Team Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome with Victoria taking the Master’s Jersey, Jess and Maddie taking 1st and 3rd in the day’s sprint competition, Maddie taking the stage victory and Jess retaining the Super Series’ Leaders Jersey for another round.  The team also performed so well over the Copper Coast Tour weekend that a 40 point deficit to Team SASI shrunk to within just 3 points coming into Round 5 – the hill climb. Knowing the strengths of the team, this round should see an even more dominating performance.

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19
Nov

Elite Women’s Update – Special Edition

Tour of Margaret River with the Rockin’ Chicks of PACC

Stage One – Team Time Trial

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Victoria donned her Port Adelaide Cycling Club kit to represent a South Australian team heading over for the Tour of Margaret River. This was a composite team consisting of Gemma Kernich from Chicks Who Ride Bikes, Tracey Green of USG, Catherine ‘Seal’ Yates who wears the SA state stripes for cyclo-cross and track pursuit, and international ring-ins Nichola Wilson from New Zealand and Natascha Pretorius from South Africa. What better way to figure out team coherence than by having a team time trial as stage one!

The 32km time trial was two laps of a scenic and ultimately lumpy course that would have the ladies making several echelon adjustments as the not-insignificant cross winds streamed across the box-course. A trial run of exchanges was practised as a warm up prior to the event – the ladies making the best of what was essentially a crash course in TTT.

What transpired was not a text-book version of a BMC team time trial, but in their own way, this group of ladies actually executed more team spirit than you could hope for. The pace was too fast too early, and so the links started to crack in the line-up only ¼ of the way through. Gemma checked with Victoria if she could help give a friendly push to some of the flagging riders. The reality was no – Victoria would have fallen off her bike as her fitness is combined with relatively little skill, and realistically, she’s too small to push anyone. Victoria did however bring her race-legs to WA, so she sat the front of the bunch for much of the race, with help from Natascha who provided her with much needed rest, while the eminently more skills-competent Gemma put her dicky left shoulder to good use, giving riders anything from a gentle push to an almighty shove.

The ladies finished a very respectable fifth, but if it had been a 32km Maddison we would have had it nailed!

Tour of Margaret River – Stage Two

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The valiant effort of the ladies the day before saw them seeded into the group one division of ladies. Group one was started one minute behind the final men’s division, and one minute in front of the division two ladies. Some very disappointing collusion was evident from the beginning of the race, as one of the local Perth teams, who had a ladies team in both the division one and two groups, blocked the front of the division one peloton to allow riders behind to catch within a kilometre. Only then was the pace put on, and by then Victoria was pretty ticked off, so she embarked on an ambitious race plan. As soon as the first hill was encountered, a 3km ascent of reasonably step pitch, Victoria (Captain Cranky-Pants) skinned through on the inside of the field and essentially disappeared.

The first climb also splintered the peloton and created much confusion with the merging of the two women’s divisions. Gemma, not generally considered a climber, had positioned well and maintained contact with the bunch, as had Natascha. Nicola was working hard to install herself into a working group, which had line of sight to the lead bunch for much of the journey to the QOM. Tracey was in a third group which was likewise maintaining sight on Nicola’s group.

Most of the peloton were completely unaware of Victoria’s early move, as she weaved in and out of the convoy cars and started to frog-hop the many bunches of slower riders from the men’s fields. The thought being, the climb was not a QOM point minimising the likelihood of pursuit, and if she could jump enough bunches and establish herself into a reasonable working group, Victoria could maintain her lead to the QOM at the 40km mark. What was a 40km breakaway, turned into unchallenged QOM points, and then the kilometres just kept going. Victoria couldn’t find any men that were fast enough to work with, and then suddenly Erin Kinnealy of Nicheliving Vault arrived like Flash Gordon at the 60km mark.

The main peloton reached the QOM more than 2 ½ minutes behind Captain Cranky. Despite her best efforts Gemma lost position across the climb. She could see groups of riders ahead of her, in groups of twos and threes, mere throwing distance away. Gemma began chasing, but the riders in front were collecting each other and forming a group that then stayed just out of Gemma’s reach. Caught in no man’s land, with one bunch in front, and one bunch behind, Gemma spent the next 15km working by herself before she was joined by a group which included Seal. Natasha had however made the cut, and held position with the first chase bunch. The tempo was disjointed and surging, with many frequent attacks by a Dutch Pro rider. Unfortunately for Natascha, the bunch was further split into two on a fast and technical downhill with Natascha blocked from crossing the gap.

The final 40km of what was essentially a 100km breakaway for Victoria, had her rolled up into a little ball in her pain cave. She was essentially pretty cooked when Erin galloped through, so Erin was left to pull the stronger and longer turns, Victoria doing what marginal efforts she had left to offer Erin some respite. Victoria being a complete hubbard in the disguise of a semi-professional rider had forgotten her Garmin mount, so was riding blind. Erin had the good grace to put up with Victoria’s badgering, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Erin also started to break down in the last five kilometres, with severe calf cramps taking their toll. Victoria had rallied, and was of somewhat better use in the end, the two ladies sticking together to nurse each other to the line, Erin having earned line honours with the bulk of the work to keep the two from getting caught by the pursuing bunch.

The following groups started rolling in. Natascha’s group had maintained orderly tempo until the final five kilometres when some surging took its toll and Natascha started to cramp. She ultimately made her way to the line by herself. Gemma and Seal were riding with the front runners of the division two women, who still had line honours to fight for at the 6km to go mark. Attacks went and Gemma covered them easily, putting her diesel engine into action on the descents. Seal, Nichola and Tracey all made safe arrivals, having made good use of the groups available to them in a very long and challenging stage.

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Tour of Margaret River – Stage Three

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A much warmer day greeted the PACC team for the 58.8km stage three, the biggest concern for the day being the potential for Victoria to cook her feet in her ugg boots before the stage even began. Bike checks were done by the fabulous support crew – kept particularly busy by the condition of Seal’s tyres thanks to an impressive ‘Tokyo drift’ the day before. The group rolled out, and unlike the day before, the pace was immediately on, which would have been fine for the previous day, but on this day, saw the field driven right up the backside of the last men’s division. Riders sought advantage with a break of four riders looking to dart around the men and separate themselves from effective pursuit. Victoria and Gemma both saw the move. Gemma used her skill to cut on the inside of the field, while Victoria took the risk of being fined to skate through between the white line and the outside of the men’s field. Her time outside the white line was minimal, and in response to the men drifting repeatedly to the right despite ample warnings that women were passing, but Victoria cringed nonetheless when the Commissaire bike passed at the most inopportune moment! (Editor’s note: Victoria escaped the ire of the Commissaire). The rest of the women made it around the men’s field also, and the attacks continued, led mostly by strong testing surges by Nicheliving Vault and Wormall Alexium Women’s Team.

The field was nervous, and bike handling skills were an issue as riders sought to take gaps that weren’t there – resultant evasive actions abounded. The men weren’t helping, with many head strong riders attacking off the front and abruptly blowing up, their fitness not matching their optimism. The elite women were essentially hemmed in by these disruptions, with attacks from the ladies having to made around the hapless chaps. The field crossed a bridge with a savagely poor join, and the resultant bump sent Victoria’s water bottle flying. She rode on making calculations – her efforts the day before would make cramps today fairly likely. Victoria had no choice – she started to filter back through the field looking for team mates. Gemma was the first rider she found and without hesitation, Gemma handed over her second water bottle. On the relatively straight freeway section, Gemma moved to the front with Natascha which smoothed things out no end, Victoria happily tucked in behind them, enjoying respite and a fragile peace agreement.

The sketchy riding resumed once the field entered some very narrow roads in the hillier return section of the course, and there the definitive moves were made. A Dutch professional rider went off the front. Shortly after another two riders went. They were 100 metres clear when Victoria went, taking two riders with her. Victoria pulled long hard turns to cross to the two riders in front. The five girls worked diligently, but when it was clear they weren’t pulling the Dutch rider back, they settled into a more survivable work mode. The five stayed away and at the 2km to go mark, started to jostle for position to the line. Victoria sat on the rear, confident in having a final spurt given the right execution. Two men came galloping down the inside of the five ladies which was more than Victoria could hope for. The inside line was protected from the cross winds, the other ladies having lined up on the right side, and there was only room for one rider to skin through on the inside of the men. Victoria lined up, screamed at the men to stay right and stepped on the gas, taking the bunch sprint for second.

The following bunch was largely neutralised – the play ahead had been made, and the disruption from the men had continued to frustrate the field. The PACC ladies all rolled in safely, having had a very happy and successful tour, with many discussions on next year!

19
Nov

2016 Super Series

Round Two – Criterium

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Double points were on offer for the Round Two criterium. Team tactics were thrown out of the window as the riders faced strong cross winds that would challenge the field to hold lines and play smart. Series leader Victoria forgot to bring her legs, so played little role other than some initial attacks to test the field, then relegating herself to a chase role. Luckily the other ladies were in good form, none more so than Jessica Mundy, who embarked on an ambitious break away following the first preme sprint.

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Initially she was aided by Maeve Moroney-Plouffe, who later returned to the bunch. Another SASI rider, Alex Manly crossed the gap by herself and the two riders continued on, swapping turns. Eloise Vaughan from USG also tried to cross the gap, but got stuck half way. Not giving up though, Eloise maintained her lonely position in the wind between the leaders and the watching bunch. Maddie sought out Victoria for a chat – no one was really motivated to chase the three riders out the front, and the team could really be in a better place if Eloise was brought back, allowing our sprinters to tousle for third place. SASI seemed to be thinking the same thing, as Maeve had already taken over duties on the front and begun the chase.  Victoria was part-way thankful to at least be given a chance to be helpful, so she roared onto the front and took the pace up to ‘catch-mode’. Victoria continued to pull for a lap and a half, bringing the bunch to within 10metres of Eloise’s back wheel, and there she stalled.

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Narelle saw the problem, and came up to the front to finish off the chase, bringing Eloise back within another quarter of a lap. Capitalising on the fatigue of the MBA Blackchrome ladies, both USG and SASI launched attacks, but thankfully, Kellie was up to the task, and brought the field back together. With Jess and Alex away and staying there, the cat and mouse began for the remaining points. As she had done in the previous round, Narelle kept the pace high heading into the final laps.

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The crosswind made positioning into the final corner very difficult, but team sprinters Maddie and Breanna knew where to be. Breanna fought hard in a technical final 40 metres to clinch third place, with Maddie also finishing strongly to claim 6th.

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Meanwhile at the front of the race, Jess was only narrowly relegated to 2nd by Alex Manly. There was plenty to celebrate in this round, but unfortunaely SASI took a nasty chunk of points out of us with several riders in the top ten, and double points awarded to each.

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19
Nov

2016 Super Series

Round One – Criterium

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The team was itching for the first round of the 2016 Super Series, having completed a team re-build to deepen our strength and create a team capable of capitalising on a fast finish. Round one was a 40 minute criterium at Victoria Park. The class of the field has increased over the last couple of years, and the attacks began early. Within the first ten minutes, Victoria had broken away with one rider from each of the other teams. Gemma from Chicks Who Ride Bikes and Merridy from USG pulled hard consistent turns, and the four riders held their lead into the first preme sprint. Victoria took the jump on the approach to the line and grabbed the sprint honours. With all sprint points accounted for by the breakaway, the team’s ‘actual’ sprinters bided their time in the chase group. The four riders were brought back, and several break attempts were launched by the other teams. Maddie worked diligently to bring several of the breaks back. Jess was kept busy marking moves by Alex Manly and several of the other strong SASI contenders. With three laps to go, Christina launched the team move of the race – galloping off with a stinging attack that left all the teams scrambling, and essentially neutralising any attacks that we ourselves would have to shut down.

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Two laps to go and Narelle gradually positioned herself onto the front to keep the speed high. Maddie took over lead-out duties the entire way heading into the final corner. Victoria had taken the aggressive line on the inside of the corner, trying to angle past team sprinter Breanna. Unfortunately, Breanna was boxed in, and as Victoria opened up into her sprint, she did so alone. Victoria hit the line in first place, with Jess Mundy in third, and Breanna rounding out points for the team in 6th place. At the end of the day, the results reflected a stellar team effort – three team members in the top ten, and three team members dead-last, willing to give their all for team position.

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Victoria enters Round Two holding the Leaders, Masters, and Most Aggressive  Jerseys.

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