2016 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
The CEGORR marked the second National Road Series round for the 2016 season, and was classified as a World UCI Tour Event. The team was represented by six riders, some of whom were making their debut at NRS level for the team. The team for this round of the NRS was as follows:
- Lucy Barker (Captain)
- Christina Teniswood
- Alana Haansbergen
- Aimee Ingram
- Jessica Lane
- Georgina Beech
NRS racing can often be dangerous, with nearly 100 riders vying for road position in often inclement weather conditions. The CEGORR is no exception, and usually involves high winds sweeping across the peloton. The team suffered our first casualty for the season early on in the race, with Georgina Beech caught up in a bad crash in the first 20 km. Initially, a sprained ankle was suspected, but
unfortunately the news worsened when it was revealed that Georgina had broken her leg just above her ankle. Our best wishes to Georgina for a speedy recovery.
The rest of the race passed in a blur, so for this edition, three of our riders will give their perspectives on the race.
As much as we were all trying to hide it, nerves were high on Saturday morning. Memories or stories of ‘the crash’ last year were playing on all our minds, as was the level of our competition and the wind conditions. Racing in SA doesn’t give any preparation for this field size or intensity.
I had told the team to look at it as a 20km race, then another 20km race, then another 20km race, and then see what happens from there. Once on the start line, all my nerves went and my race face appeared!
The race was fairly jittery, but I was lucky I’d done a good reconnoitre of the wind conditions out to Barwon Heads – and found a fabulous cafe, can highly recommend!!
Sure enough 20km in there was that horrible sound of carbon on bitumen behind me. A quick count on how many team jerseys I could see, and we were missing one; bad news, however, nothing to do but press on.
The first sprint point was messy, then the peloton filed out onto the coast. I got caught behind a gap at one of the 90 degree bends, and had to put in a fair effort to close and move up again – that was a warning so I gave myself a good talking to – “concentrate on position!”
The hills after Torquay were where the race really kicked off. The field split massively over the QOM point as the defining break of the race went, but I knew Aimee, Christina and myself would make it over safely in the main peloton. Once over, the larger teams were controlling pace to allow them to regroup, but a lot of damage had been done to their riders! I made sure we took this opportunity to eat, drink and be ready for the hit when it came. Sure enough it did. Once we turned onto Forest Road, the pace was on. It was a single line of riders and gaps were opening everywhere. I had survived as long as I could but at the 95km mark, I was now in a group of 6 including Aimee approximately 200m behind what was left of the main peloton (30 riders!).
My recovery was good, and still wanting a good finishing time I was able to drive the group as we again entered Geelong. Hannah Gumley (Roxolt) and I dropped the rest of our group as we went over the river, through Queens Park and then the left turn onto the very cheeky Melville Ave. This very nearly broke me!!!!
The final climb past the cement works took what little I had left, but 3km to go I wasn’t going to let Hannah get away from me. I was counting down the 3, 2, 1km to go, head down, all I had. I knew there weren’t that many riders in front, so I knew we could be on for a good result. I came off her wheel perfectly and sprinted. 28th, a massive result for me in that field!
I would like to thank Deakin University for their fabulous hospitality over the weekend. They really did look after us all.
My race strategy was to focus on positioning myself in the front half of the bunch and to conserve energy as much as possible. I did a good job of this and found myself feeling good as we hit Torquay and the start of the rollers heading into the QOM. In this section I was able to keep position at the front and stayed in the main pack as we hit the hills/descents and finally the QOM at 58km. The pace slowed for a moment as teams waited for their sprinters and this gave me a chance to chat with Lucy and to get some advice on the next section as we were heading for the flat windy part of the course. Her advice was to watch for splits, stay up front and don’t drop a wheel. Good advice!!!! With a 2 rider break that had stayed away from Bells Beach, the pace picked up with Orica and Wiggle working to pull them back. As we hit the next small flat section around 80kms we were hit with cross winds and with an echelon forming I started to drop the wheel in front. Despite my best efforts to get back on, that was my game over. Thankfully Lucy and Aimee had stayed with the bunch, but the entire field had been blown apart.
I started to work with a group of riders, then Jess came past so I sprinted onto Jess’ wheel as she came through, bringing the small bunch with me. We all tried to work as the peloton was still in sight but most of the girls had popped so I ended up riding off the front with another girl on my wheel and collectively we caught another rider about a km up the road. The three of us worked together from 90-95km where I could now see the convoy just up the road but the course had turned into rolling hills and the cars started moving up to find their riders.
In the final 20kms I had ridden away from the other riders so I focused on catching the people ahead of me. I also could now see our team car which, for the next 16km, dangled between 1km and 200m in front of me depending on the hills, as it was sitting behind Lucy and Aimee. This section actually suited me with hills, hills and more hills so I rode like crazy and managed to start passing girls and getting closer and closer to our team car. I ignored the pain in my legs and had managed to get in a good rhythm. All I could think about was the 10 min race cut off, and there was no way I was going to let that last commissaire come past me!!! The funniest part of the last section was when a spectator shouted out to me at the top of one of the hills -“it’s all downhill from here”. I was relieved as it felt like the hills were never going to end. Little did I know I was just about to turn into a street called Melville Avenue which could quite easily be compared to that nice little 20% section of Sheoak Rd. Thanks mate!!!
Christina Teniswood Jessica Lane
I finally got through the hills and had nearly caught our team car at the 4km to go mark but it suddenly moved out and sped off -just my luck! Rolling across the finish line was a very happy moment. So proud of all our team and everyone’s results. BIG thanks goes to our support crew – Russ and Michael for looking after all of us so well over the weekend. They did an awesome job!!!! It was by far the hardest race I have ever done and tested me to my limits – it was a brutal course. I can’t wait to do it again next year!!!!
I didn’t know how I was feeling or how I’d fare in this race. After coming down with a mild chest infection and having had a few bad nights’ sleep leading up to race day, I was dubious about how I’d perform.
The start of the race was as intense as ever and I was waiting for a break in the peloton so I could get comfortable. However before this occurred I got stuck behind a crash and ended up running over someone which caused my left break lever to come loose.
I weighed up my options at this stage and went to the back to get assistance. Our team car rolled up and said I could stop or keep going. I didn’t know what to do so I kept going, the major dilemma being that I couldn’t ride on my hoods, only on my drops – the thought of having to do this was very daunting. By now a huge gap had been created & I had to chase like crazy. 10 minutes of solo effort and I had burnt a heap of matches I needed later in the race. I managed to get back on and stayed with the lead group until about the 90km mark but I just couldn’t hold intensity in the hills past this point, which was disappointing as this is where I usually excel and race in my element.
I then endured another solo stint before I was joined by Lucy and a group of 4 others. We got each other to the 10km to go mark where I blew up on a whole new level. I wanted to stop so badly. But I got the job done and am still proud of my efforts considering my circumstances were not ideal. Lots to take away from this race – and a clear understanding that not all races go to plan. This gives me a much bigger appreciation for when things do go right. Very happy for Lucy to have a result she was stoked with after such a tough TDU in the heat.
Many thanks to Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome for the opportunity to race in this event!