Italian Training Camp
Representing Australia in their first ever trip overseas together, Tandem Project Athlete Kieran Murphy and pilot Lachlan Glasspool attended a training camp in Italy to prepare for a tough couple of months of domestic and international competition. Don’t be fooled by the photos, the constant sunshine and Italian coffee was hard work for these athletes, but apparently the Italian gelato compensated them for their hardships.
Australian Paracycling Road Championships
The training camp in Italy was to prepare Kieran and Lachlan to contest the Australian National Paracycling Road Championships. They were able to turn around their track form and prepare for road endurance in eight weeks. They started by taking the gold medal for the Time Trial in emphatic style, clocking an average speed of 49.5km per hour. For those people who don’t know much about bike riding, that is epic power! The Tandem Project has been hunting for a National Gold medal in the road race since our last win with Kieran Modra in 2014. We’ve grabbed silver for the last two years, but this year, Kieran and Lachlan went one better, taking the gold medal with a crushing breakaway.
UCI World Road Championships
Report by Kieran Murphy
20 tandems lined up on the start line in thunderstorms and the race was on from the start. As soon as the 300m neutral zone was over the speed instantly went beyond 50kmph. The rain was so hard we thought about letting the stokers pilot as they had more experience in seeing when conditions aren’t that great. The road spray was chest high and roads slippery. The bunch was starting to splinter early, spitting anyone who couldn’t ride at 60kmph out the back. And the end of the first lap (there were 15,) there was a crash when 2 bikes came down at a corner shortly after the start/finish line. A group of riders made a split and we were in a pretty good position, working hard in a group that included the current World Champions, and the super-strong tandem from Rio. Shortly into the 5th lap (still raining) we threw our transfer chain and had to stop to put it back on. This would cost us more than a minute and a place in the front group. We worked with the Irish pair to bridge the gap which we had down to 30 seconds, however the lead group would prove too strong and we rode on to finish 12th. A massive experience and great learning opportunity for us. Now on a plane to Belgium for round 2 on Friday
It was contrasting conditions to last week’s race with blue skies and warm conditions for our race in Belgium. The start was about 100m from the technical part of the course which included a series of corners that would eventually lead to a long stretch of road with a u-bolt to come back around and complete the lap. By the end of the first few corners a break had formed when 3 bikes were allowed off the front…never to be seen again. We found ourselves at the back of the bunch and moved up the field to try and bridge the 30 second gap. A fourth tandem had gone up the road and after the initial 50-55kph lap the bunch didn’t want to work to reel in the break. By about lap 4 all our attacks and attempts to bridge had been marked with the bunch coming back to us and nobody pulling through for any turns. It was an eventual Polish and Irish team that would work with us and we made a break from the main field. We held off the bunch and it was a sprint to the line for 4th-6th with the Polish just getting us on the line. Absolutely shattered after the 104km race but thrilled with a 6th place and looking forward to South Africa.
Tour of Murray Bridge
Stage One TT
After subjecting team rider Jessie Hodges to miserable conditions at the Mt Baw Baw Classic, the MBAB team redeemed itself by hosting the New Zealand rider for the Skinny Lattes Tour of Murray Bridge. Held in picture perfect sunshine, and with not a hill in sight, the tour was a stunning contrast to the snow and 4500m of climbing encountered at Baw Baw.
The Stage One TT was a short and sharp affair, at just over 10km. There was no significant wind, but the course comprised of dead roads and a deceptively steady climb on the way out to the turn around. Bree powered her way into first place, with Victoria chugging into second, while Alison and Jessie did well to clock fast times on road bikes.
Stage Two Criterium
The criterium circuit at Murray Bridge provides a safe closed circuit and the opportunity for all the grades to watch and support each other. New rider Emily was riding in B Grade and rode very impressively to clinch second place in her first ever criterium, demonstrating great handling skills for this exciting new rider. The Elite women had a slightly passive affair. Victoria tried to defy her rubbish legs to do most of the attacking in the first half on the race. Alison and Jessie also put in strong turns on the front. Disaster struck with a rear flat for Victoria. The slightly unorthodox solution was to grab her TT bike off the roof of the car as no spare wheel was available. Sensibly, Victoria made no further aggressive moves, nor did she adopt a TT position, lest she expose the bunch to a rider in an unstable position. Bree made the smart move in the last lap to spring an attack in the last half-lap. Jessie was bounced out of contention by errant cornering from the bunch into the final approach to the finish line, ending up on the grass. Victoria wound up her TT bike (as much as a TT bike can be ‘wound up’ for a sprint), and surprisingly clinched third. Bree took a clear overall lead into the final race.
Stage Three Road Race
The start list for the road race was disappointingly small, with only six riders lining up. Not wanting to subject herself to complete boredom, Victoria took it upon herself to drop at least one rider, with testing attacks aimed at the slightest incline. Alison joined in the fun with a long and searching surge that put most of the riders at their limits. Victoria counterattacked very shortly thereafter, and unfortunately for Chelsea Parbs, the link in the chain broke and she spent the rest of the race chasing. To her credit, Chelsea sustained her solo pursuit to finish no more than a few minutes down on the five girls now working in unison to get to the finish line. The final few kilometres saw the beginning of the cat-and-mouse game for the sprinters. Just as she had done in the criterium, Bree launched a stinging attack to the finish line, easily gapping the climbers. This time however, she had Jessie to contend with, a rider vying for selection to the NZ National Sprint Team. Jessie powered up to and then past Bree, taking the win by a bike length. Second place did not tarnish Bree’s masterful winning of the series, with Victoria consistent enough to take third place in the road race, and second overall.