Division One: MBA Blackchrome
Super Series Round Two
Race Report Courtesy of Cycling South Australia
With a time of 16:05.1, the Mercedes-Benz Blackchrome Team Captain, Victoria Veitch successfully rode her way to the top of the podium. Veitch put her climb success down to her time spent training with teammate, and 3rd place winner, Narelle Hards.
“I think that the Mercedes-Benz Blackchrome team have a good set of climbers, I might be at the older end of the age group but I can still climb.” Said Veitch.
Veitch is not wrong, the Mercedes-Benz Blackchrome Team took the 2016 Series Old Freeway Climb 1-2-3 and Veitch herself named QOM in the 2016 Tour of the Barossa.
Looking towards the 2017 Copper Coast Cup, Veitch says
“I think you’ve got to just keep working up to the front and try to minimize the number of riders sliding around you, the core riders have ridden together for several years, a lot of us train together and we know each other and how we ride, we trust each other to turn up to the game and hopefully get the job done. “
500m Time Trial Australian National Champion, Breanna Hargrave took out second place, earning the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) rider enough points to take the General Classification lead and yellow jersey into Round 3.
Category 1 Elite Women – Top 10
- Victoria VEITCH (Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome) 16:05.1
- Breanna HARGRAVE (SASI – Blue) 16:12.3 +7.2
- Narelle HARDS (Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome) 16:24.6 +19.5
- Brittany PETERSEN (Butterfields Focus) 16:35.7 +30.6
- Maeve PLOUFFE (SASI – Blue) 16:37.5 +32.4
- Sophie EDWARDS (SASI – Blue) 16:43.9 +38.8
- Jessica MUNDY (Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome) 16:47.9 +42.8
- Alison SKINNER (Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome) 16:50.6 +45.5
- Gerogia BAKER (SASI – Blue) 16:54.4 +49.3
- Chloe MORAN (SASI – Red) 16:57.3 +52.2
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.
NRS Tour of South West
Well, we came to the Tour of South West as prepared as we could be. A strong line-up of ladies, team mechanic Tony Kemp, Victoria as DS/masseuse/odd body, and even a team mascot in Bella the miniature schnauzer! Unfortunately, someone again forgot to put in the request for good weather with the powers that be, and Australia’s strongest NRS teams were in a particularly frisky mood.
Stage One Time Trial
A pleasantly unremarkable stage. Only some last-minute bike alterations for Tony 30 seconds before a scheduled start for one of the ladies, but otherwise no dramas. Brittany Steele was the fastest of the ladies in her Darth Vader skin suit – she rode along making the appropriate sound effects. The ladies were reasonably lucky weather-wise. As the competitors continued to leave the start gate, the skies and the wind began an ominous build up. By the end of the NRS ladies, riders with disc wheels were being buffeted by the growing gale. Tony set to work readying the bikes for stage two just as the weather turned truly miserable. Victoria, and team mascot Bella, both dressed in wool lined clothing were both generally unperturbed.
Stage Two Road Race
This stage had many of the NRS ladies expressing general discontent at the race distance for the women. It was a paltry 51km compared to the men, who were not racing an NRS round but had been granted 85km. Considering the abysmal conditions, our team were mightily relieved to pack things in after three laps. Tony, Victoria and Bella were all warmly stowed into the team car. On the start line, the temperature continued to plummet and the clouds were increasingly black. The race began, and the pace was absolutely fierce from the gun. From the team vehicle, Victoria and crew could see the entire field lined out and under pressure heading into the first turn. Within the first three km, the convoy started to slow up. The Chief Commissaire car was pulling over into a ditch. The convoy vehicles all passed safely, but Tony and Victoria could see the Chief Commissaire hurry out of his vehicle and approach the ditch. A few things went through the mind – emergency toilet stop? A piece of equipment coming loose from a vehicle? Tony and Victoria joked with each other – had a rider ended up in a ditch so early in the race?
A few kilometres later, and the pace hadn’t yet eased, but then the hail hit. The rain and hail was so thick and furious, that it was difficult for the convoy to travel safely with visibility no longer extending beyond the bumper in front. As quickly as it had hit, the rain stopped. The convoy was following the peloton down a small hill, so Victoria saw the moment the crash rippled across the women’s field. Like a stone dropped onto a pond, the result was an almost seamless dispersing of riders to either edge of the road. The road being so narrow, and the edge of the road now lined with deeply rutted mud, there was always going to be riders who failed to find a safe path around the fallen rider. Unfortunately, Brittany was one of those riders. Absolutely covered in mud and blood, Victoria and Tony scooped her off the road and loaded her into the first ambulance to arrive. Natascha had been stuck behind the crash and was hurrying through to begin her chase.
Out of no-where, Chloe arrived……….from behind us!? Almost in unison, Victoria and Tony queried “where the hell did you come from?” Turns out, that rider in the ditch……yep! That was Chloe – cut off by a reckless move from another rider and left with no recourse but to veer onto the verge. The verge however, was a clever mask for a two-foot ditch beside the road. Chloe spent the best part of five minutes stuck underneath her bike, wedged between the ditch and a paddock fence. Chloe was increasingly sore throughout her pelvis, so she too was offloaded from her bike and delivered to the same ambulance that had Brittany. Ironically the ambulance was a Mercedes so the girls felt right at home!
Tony and Victoria re-entered the convoy for the third lap. Bree was off the back but chasing valiantly. She initially had a few riders with her, but they weren’t going fast enough so Bree continued her chase by herself. Margeaux was also in strife. She was twenty metres off the back and chasing into a brutal headwind. Victoria and Tony stayed with her as she relentlessly pursued the field. Margeaux also collected a few riders, but they weren’t able to pull many turns. It was Margeaux who resiliently closed the gap and re-joined the bunch. Heartbreakingly, the field was entering the final few kilometres and the speed was increased just as Margeaux had finally made it to the back of the field. Now totally exhausted, she lost contact again, but continued to work to the finish line to stay within sight of the peloton. In fact, all three of the remaining ladies didn’t give up. Working by themselves and fighting the wind, none of them pulled back on their work efforts until the race was over. It’s the type of fighting spirit that we love in this team.
Stage Three Criterium
The stage three criterium was another fast and furious day. The circuit was extremely narrow, and the conditions windy again. The conditions meant that aggressive cornering and positioning would see early splits in the field. The race was a carbon copy of the day before, with the pace on immediately and the field strung out into the first corners. A group of two riders went off the front immediately. They were brought back within a few laps, only for another breakaway to be launched. The constant breakaway attempt disintegrated the field. Small bunches of riders were strewn around the entire course. One-by-one the groups were red-flagged and pulled from the course. Bree was in her element, with criteriums being her preferred format. Natascha was pulled first. A third of the field was off the course in the first 20 minutes. Margeaux was working well, but then got caught behind riders who had dropped the wheels in front. Now in a working group of five riders, Margeaux continued for another 15 minutes before also being pulled. Bree had maintained her position in the third chase group to finish in the top 30, an impressive ride in an aggressive and talented field.
World Paracycling Track Championships
Meg Lemon flew over to Los Angelis in March for her debut on the Australian Paracycling Track Team. We are enormously proud of this very gusty athlete, who battled through nerves and fatigue to register the following results.
- Third Place C4 500m Time Trial – missed silver by 0.2sec and gold by 1 second.
- Third Place C4 3km Individual Pursuit – missed the gold medal ride off by 0.3sec.
- Fourth C1-5 (mixed classes) Women’s Scratch Race 10km.
- Second overall UCI Track Rankings for C4 women 2nd
- There are many exciting things to come for this athlete as Meg heads to the National Road championships in April.
Australian Elite National Road Championships
2017 marked the Nationals retirement for Narelle and Victoria. Both athletes had trained together in the lead up – a staggering degree of difficult and painful training sessions. Narelle could tell that her legs just didn’t feel right in the few days before the event. She had hoped that they would pull themselves together on the day, but for Narelle recovery just didn’t occur in time. Narelle was challenged early by the climbing pace, when she would otherwise have been quite comfortable. In typical ‘never say die’ Narelle fashion, she dug in and worked relentlessly to regain contact with the bunch across the challenging Buninyong course. Lap seven signalled the surrender however – an achievement in itself with the class of the field having taken significant steps forward in the last three years. Victoria was feeling good – or at least better than she had for the year before. She was still in contact with the bunch on the last lap, on only dropped off the main bunch heading across the top for the last time. Victoria finished shattered, and ultimately relieved to never have to front up to Nationals again!
Tour of Mansfield
Stage One: 13.8km Time Trial
Solid performance from the ladies in the Stage One Time Trial saw the team sitting in first place overall. It was a mightily chilly stage at 9 degrees, but the course was always going to warm up the ladies quickly. A 13.8km and very undulating course was on the menu for the day, with plenty of tricky pace changes. Victoria and Brittany were the quickest fillies of the team with good times clocked all round.
Stage Two: 69km Road Race
The Elite Women lined up for a 69km course over a testing and very lumpy course. Victoria commiserated with another local SA rider, Alana Haansbergen on the way out – whoever drew up the course profile clearly needed to be shot! The course profile was drawn with a scale that made the stage look practically flat.
The first 3km was neutral and perfectly civilised. In fact, the pace for the first half of the race up to the turnaround was reasonably conservative and only punctuated by a short burst of speed for the QOM, and minor chase downs of two breakaway attempts. Victoria was 4th over the line for the first QOM.
On the way back, Haansbergen from CBR and a Specialized rider went for a breakaway from the turnaround. VV and Alison brought that one back with very able assistance from Justine Barrow of the Rush team and active attempts from CBR to block.
The QOM on the return was the major splinter with five riders including VV making a break. VV couldn’t hold the climbing speed with legs having been unable to race since Santos Women’s Tour. Frustratingly she had to let them go, and waited for a group of four riders coming up behind her. The chase bunch which came through and regrouped with VV had originally had Alison, but Alison was to suffer the same frustration but to an even narrower margin, only being just off the pace in the last moments of the climb. Alison, having lost touch a hairs-breath from the summit also waited for a working group of three riders to swap off turns with for the next 5km.
Natascha started cramping at the 40km mark. She was with Bree heading to the top of the climb, the two riders working hard to catch the group in front, but history repeated and they could quite make the gap. Natascha and one other rider eventually did ride away from their group, but her companion was knackered and could only offer small assistance on the downhill. Bree had succumbed to the pace and eventually found herself working alone, until the 3km-to-go mark when she was then caught by a group which included Brittany. Bree finished with the sprint from her group, with Brittany safely in the pack.
Back at the front of the race, Victoria’s group had a big task at hand. They had the four leaders working hard out in front, and VV’s group of five only had four effective workers. At one point the gap to the leaders was enticingly close. VV sat at the front and the other riders were unable to help, so VV just sat there and kept pulling, trying to get the two groups to close. With a 30metre gap still to close, unbelievably another rider attacked Victoria! It didn’t work mind you, and Victoria still closed the final gap anyway. One rider had crashed out so that left 8 riders heading into a sprint finish, Victoria taking 6th with no time loss. Next best rider was a very gutsy and determined ride from Alison, with Natascha’s ride being the third time to be taken towards the team’s classification. The team continued to sit in first place after stage two.
Stage Three: Mt Buller Road Race
Maybe we should call this stage Mt Bully!
The team headed into this stage with a 1m45s lead, which is easily lost on a single climb such as the looming Mt Buller. The team was forced into a defensive position early into the race, with two riders from second-placed team CBR making the smart move to get two riders up the road into a breakaway. MBAB rider Britanny Steele saw the move, and followed, allowing her to share in the nearly three minute lead the group had at the bottom of the climb.
MBAB riders moved to the front of the chase bunch and kept the pace from falling to the point that the breakaway would have a devastating lead on the climb. All four riders swaped turns, and then when the climb presented intself, moved into rest mode and waited for the climbers who would launch the search party for GC to take up the work. We didn’t have to wait long. The expected mountain goats embarked on a mixture of short attacks and savage underlying rises in general climbing tempo. The amount of work Natascha had put into the chase bunch had been absolutely crucial but cost her early, and she had to settel back into her own tempo for the remainder of the climb. Bree was feeling somewhat better, and was able to find an effective group of climbers to work with. That left Brittany fighting hard out off the front to preserve as much time as possible, while the team’s strongest climbers, Alison and Victoria set to work on bringing whatever time back they could.
Alison stayed with the initial attacks, but eventually had to concede that the tempo was unsustainable. With extraordinary determination however, she relentlessly sustained her own threshold and eventually brought back all but one of the riders from the original breakaway, and several riders who had also fallen off the chase bunch. Victoria also stayed with the mountain pursuit group for a time, but her form was too fragile to stay with them – surviving to stage three in her first race since the Santos Tour being surprise enough. Unfortunately, half way up the climb, the lights did go out, and Victoria pushed against a crushing fatigue to get to the top. Brittany had climbed like a champion, and while she was caught and passed by Alison and Victoria, it was Brittany and Bree riding in together that secured the team first place for the team’s classification. Well done ladies!
Tour of Margaret River with the Rockin’ Chicks of PACC
Stage One – Team Time Trial
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
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.
Tour of Margaret River – Stage Three
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!
Tour of the King Valley
Our NRS ladies just can’t seem to cop a break with the weather this year! The Mersey Valley Tour set the tone with gale force winds and hail. Battle of the Border was cancelled outright. King Valley was more of a mud bath than a bike race. On day one, our ladies lined up for the time trial, and then had the afternoon off as the afternoon criterium was cancelled for, you guessed it, unsafe weather conditions. Stage 3 was a war of attrition. Stinging attacks were launched early into the race, and by the time the race hit the dirt sections, the peloton was already stretched out. How do you make things tricker on dirt? Just add water! The heavens opened, hence the resultant mud bath! The climbs and fast descent in the slippery conditions had also done their damage. Holly finished in the bunch, with Lucy just behind in a chase group. The 96.1km stage four was another very testing day. The QOM was particularly aggressive as the race leader had punctured and rival teams sought to maximise their advantage. The field did come back together but the final climb again shattered the group. With a very select group away over the top of the climb, Holly dug in to finish 34 seconds back in the chase group, with Lucy further back in following bunches.
World Masters Gran Fondo Championships
We can at least partially exclude Victoria from being the source of bad racing weather, as she travelled across to the Perth World Grand Fondo Championships and was met with idyllic conditions. A field of over 100 women lined up, with significant representation from USA, Great Britain, Germany and France. As Gran Fondos go, the race was a mixture of controlled angst and utter chaos. In the opening 30km along the freeway, Victoria, bored already, launched the only two attacks of the entire race, then reconciled herself to waiting for the hills like everyone else. Then a men’s bunch came through, and the resulting behaviour of the men was pretty revolting. The men were swearing at the women and then muscled into their lines – when crashes resulted, it was frustrating to hear the post-race chatter from the men in regards to how the women had caused so many crashes. We have a long way to go to eliminate a completely patronising and discouraging ethos from the men of the sport.
In the chaos, Victoria did her best to monitor her competitors. She made her way around the first major crash, but the race was then rapidly heading around a hairpin bend, which completely stretched the field. At that point it became impossible to tell if anyone had slipped away. The first time up the 6km climb, Victoria powered past group after group, bunny hopping riders who were rapidly falling off the leading bunches. Victoria had closed in on what she though was the front of the race in the final kilometre of the climb, but having spent many cookies. No riders were visible any further ahead, and the group was policed by seven very classy women riders, so without any confirmation of other lead bunches, this was the group Victoria continued with.
The pace stayed high for the rest of the race, but it was not an attacking race until the final three kilometres of the last climb. Victoria covered the attacks comfortably and began to mentally prepare for the sprint. She had two riders specifically in her age category, so Victoria set about marking them and waiting patiently for the sprint to unfold. The men created many false flurries, and in one definitive move heading into the final 300metres, Victoria boxed in her American rival on the left, while simultaneously blocking the outside corridor along the barriers for an Australian rival now hovering on her hip. With 200metres to go, Victoria snuck through the now rapidly closing gap on the fence, which cut off any pursuit, and allowed Victoria to step on the gas to clinch the sprint. A classy finish, but no cigar, as two riders has managed to cross for 1st and 2nd in an unseen leaders’ bunch.
Amy’s Otway Tour
It’s official! It’s Holly’s fault it always rains! She’s the only rider who has been at every crap-weather tour of the year. Here she is….grinning……because she’s already told the Weather Gods to bring on the crap to the 119km road stage! Old goat and resident cold fish Victoria was the ONLY competitor on the start line in a vest and arm warmers, while all the other ‘pro’ girls were shivering but expecting to warm up on the mammoth climb that began at the 500m mark of the race. But, guess who had the last laugh?…..and oh how she laughed! When the temperature fell to 3 degrees and the rain set in, suddenly Victoria didn’t look so silly. Not a lot happened until the second QOM, as the ever-strong Justine Barrow set out in the hunt for QOM points. The pace was definitively set upwards of comfortable tempo, and with each pinch of climbing, riders were being shelled. Victoria and Holly kept pace with the leaders, while Christina set about an extraordinary series of comebacks, having been unhitched over the climbs, and resolutely making her way back to the group by herself. The efforts cost her, as did her featherweight status. On the major descent, in the wet and the wind, Christina’s body weight gave her no advantage whatsoever, and she continued to have to expend significant amounts of energy to stay with the group. Victoria was also suffering – from lack of bravery and skill rather than inadequate body mass however. She was gradually relegated to the same 8 rider chase group that Christina was battling to stay with. Holly however, having basked in the weather she brought with her from rainy QLD, had secured her position amongst the leaders. As the chase group hit the Great Ocean Road and the wind, Christina succumbed; not enough gas for one more fight. Victoria worked strongly with the chase group, and they did bring back the leaders. The flurry of attacks that continued along every single bump of the Great Ocean Road, eventually took its toll on Victoria, and 5km from the finish, she became unhitched with a group of four riders. Holly finished a superb 8th, Victoria 37 seconds behind in 14th, and Christina in 24th position.
Round 6 Skinny Lattes Series
It was a small field for the final round of the Skinny Lattes Winter Road Series. Victoria was leading the Elite Category by four points, and the overall series by a less generous one point. Major rivals were absent however, so the Elite Division theoretically couldn’t be lost unless Victoria fell off, but winning the overall series really required no less than second place. Not generally prone to worrying, Victoria was suddenly beset by paranoia – this close to actually winning something rather than being bridesmaid again would surely mean that crashing or puncturing was imminent. ‘The Husband’ was ordered to be trackside with spare wheels, and Victoria engaged in a strategy to absolutely minimise the chance of crashing. Ten minutes into the race, a series of attacks and counter attacks saw Victoria ride away – and the foot never came off the gas! It wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t pretty to look at, but the race finished with Victoria crossing the line ¾ of a lap ahead of the rest of the field – job done! Christina finished out the series with a solid overall third place for the Elite Division, a testament to this very gutsy and well-rounded rider………….and yes….it rained!
Berri – Tour of the Riverland
Race Report by Madeleine Steele
One of the most prestigious races on the South Australian road cycling calendar is the Tour of the Riverland. It’s slowly becoming one of my favourites. The 86 kilometre handicap begins and ends in the town of Berri with every rider, no matter their ability, offered the same chance of winning the tour title due to the staggered start.
This year, Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome (MBAB) Cycling Team had four representatives on the handicap’s start line – Victoria Veitch, Steve Sabine, Alana Haansbergen and myself, Madeleine Steele. Alana and I began 24 minutes in front of the fastest men in the field (scratch) and our small group worked hard together to make it as far down the road as we could before we could be caught. At about the halfway mark, the 15-minute group came flying past and the MBAB team was reunited. For Victoria and Steve, this was a small victory but there was much work left to do. For Alana and myself, this was a chance to jump on, sit in for a bit and hope for the slightest bit of recovery as the race would only continue to increase in intensity.
One of the most interesting points of the handicap always happens at Loxton. The U-turn in this Riverland town allows everyone to see where they stand as they pass each other on the road. Our group of about thirty riders was keeping a fierce pace and with 30km to go the bunch still had a handy lead of over three and a half minutes on scratch. This information put the slightest bit of extra fire power into the legs of the worker bees on the front.
Unfortunately, this pace didn’t last all the way to the line. Whether it was due to tired legs, a lack of riders willing to work, ‘foxing’ for the finish or a combination of all three; the group slowed up with five kilometres to go. Victoria and Steve had done so much to keep the group working, and Alana had lost her brave fight to stay on after Loxton.
As we took the final turn and with under 3km to the finish, our group was caught by a reduced bunch from scratch. I was still there to see the fast men pass but there was no response in my poor little (big) legs to accelerate with them. The commotion leading to the sprint caused a crash that left Victoria also split from the surging bunch.
As the MBABC riders rolled across the line, it was mixed emotions for everyone. Victoria and I were left with the bitter disappointment of coming so close to getting in the money. This was my second Berri and the second time my race had finished after the final turn. Meanwhile, Alana in her first Berri, had discovered just how intense the ride could become once bunches start catching bunches. The fact that each of us stayed on our bikes right to the line is something to be grateful for.
Day two of the Tour of the Riverland offered a different challenge – a 40km graded road race around the town of Lyrup in the scrub. There was disappointment for Victoria who always hopes for a decent climb or two, but for myself there was only excited anticipation for the short, flat race that would play to my strengths.
Victoria took off with the C-Grade bunch around 9:45am. Unfortunately, with a large bunch of burly men to contend with and no bumps in sight – it was not Victoria’s day for glory. The D-Grade bunch headed off with some punchy attacks from a few different riders to get things going. The stronger riders in the field worked to pull back each attack and the fatigue that built in the field led to an inconsistent pace. With five kilometres to go and the field together, I moved up through the field hoping that there wasn’t too much fatigue in my legs from chasing down attacks. Yes, that’s right, I worked! I continued to move up and liked my chances more and more the closer we came to the finish. A final attack from the USG team increased the pace again but the group stayed together and by 1km to go, it was all happening. At 500m to go I was in the second row, feeling good but completely boxed in. I had two options; sit in or hit the dirt. I chose to sit in and concede the win. Then, with less than 100 metres to the finish, the gap opened and I took my chance. With 20 metres to go I hit the front and took first place and first woman over a local Riverland lad, and a SASI scholarship holder, Maeve.
For myself, it was the perfect way to finish a fun weekend of fast racing. I’m not quite sure if we have convinced Victoria to head back to Berri next year but you never know though… Next year could be her year.
2016 CSA State Titles
The State Titles clashed with the Battle of the Border, resulting in some key absences, most notably TT specialist Lucy Barker who generally wins the TT. So while our Battle team was suffering the disappointment of stage cancellations due to a mammoth series of storm fronts hitting the QLD/NSW border, the MBAB ladies were experiencing idyllic weather at Parawa. Unfortunately good weather doesn’t magically absolve time trialling from being a completely rubbish discipline! Pain faces galore could be seen grinding their way from start to finish line, but many happy faces could be seen once it was all over. The team was represented in the Masters division by Michele Bloffwitch who scored a silver medal, while Victoria Veitch huffed and puffed her way to Bronze in the elite division, feeling very sheepish in not representing the team half so well as Lucy would have done.
The State Road Race was a completely different affair. The course was obviously chosen by a genius! The Parawa course was comprised of a constant stream of climbs of various lengths and gradient, but none more impressive than the 4km climb to the finish line. The team had three goats on the start line – Christina, Narelle and Victoria. The weather however was not going to be cooperative with Parawa living up to its reputation as having SA’s highest annual rain fall – it was absolutely pouring on the start line. The initial part of the course was quite treacherous – a steady downhill in the wet and strong cross winds all the way to Strathalbyn. An unofficial truce was agreed to by the riders – no aggressive moves from the ‘heavy hitters’ of the field. The MBAB ladies didn’t ride beyond a general tempo pace, but the inclement conditions still saw the field splinter, with many riders too nervous to keep pace with the lead bunch on the descent. By the time the front of the race reached the bottom of the long windy descent, only four riders remained in the front bunch – the entire MBAB contingent and Jenny Macpherson.
Christina succumbed to the climbing pace on one of the steady climbs out of Strathalbyn. From that point forward it was steady turn-taking between the remaining three riders. Jenny was having a very poor time of things – a stomach bug had begun to take effect, and Jenny was throwing up every time she tried to take a drink. While not a hot day, the effects of not being able to keep hydrated, not to mention the effects of the virus itself, would have severely hampered Jenny’s ability to contest the race to her full capacity.
So then, it was a gutsy effort by Jenny to dig in when MBAB’s two top climbers, Narelle and Victoria, hit the final four 4kms. Essentially, Victoria’s approach to the race was that her race didn’t actually start until that point, and there was only one tactic that she was going to use – go straight to climbing threshold and stay there. The assumption being that eventually, she would slowly get a gap and keep it until the finish line. The gap however was created straight away. As soon as Victoria went to threshold, she rode away from Narelle and Jenny. Jenny then hung onto Narelle, who was also employing a similar tactic but just with a slightly slower threshold climbing speed. Team Manager Simon Veitch was in the follow car, and he reported that it could be clearly seen when Jenny finally cracked. A dip of her head and a sudden gapping from Narelle’s wheel and the race had determined 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The three ladies each crossed the finish line with approximately a minute between each rider. The results gave the team gold and silver in the Elite State Road Race, but also returned the series leader jersey to Victoria.
Battle of the Border
Race Report by Lucy Barker
The first round of the Battle of Border Pace was on from the start with numerous attacks straight out of the neutral over the lumpy terrain and descents covered in potholes, but nothing was ever going to get away with the first sprint so early at 23km. Attacks continued but this just upped the overall speed making positioning vital.
The short climb and damp descent before the first QOM (affectionally known as ‘The Wall’) started to split the field, however it was on the descent after the QOM where the decisive splits happened. The timing of the rain starting could not be worse if it tried! Those who made it over and were able to take it at full pace or those having it to be much more cautious as the road instantly became like glass.
Holly continuing her run of excellent form, making the front group and working well to finish 14th just 10seconds behind stage winner Sophie Mackay.
Lucy and Jess using all their motivational tactics to keep their group chasing, however the damage had already been done, costing them 10minutes by the finish, placing 51st and 54th respectively.
Having spent most of last evening weather watching it was obvious that stage 2 would be cancelled to allow emergency services to prioritize the inevitable local area flooding. We await to see what tomorrow brings!
Round Three SLCC Series Hill Climb
The ‘powers that be’ were divinely inspired in scheduling a hill climb into the Skinny Lattes Road Series. The series has a fair distribution of races between flat and hilly road courses. The hilly races are to the obvious advantage of the MBAB ladies, and there was no doubting this when the results were in. The top three places of the Elite classification were filled by MBAB riders; Victoria in 1st, and Narelle and Christina taking out 2nd and 3rd respectively. There were some other notable efforts. SASI rider Dani McKinniry decided she was feeling strong enough to do the climb on a flat back wheel – the reality being that there was enormous relief to find a flat back wheel at the top of the climb rather than think the climb had just been the hardest climb EVER! Madeleine Steele in Elite, and Michele Bloffwitch in A Grade both powered through what is generally NOT their preferred discipline. Well done to all that turned up in such chilly circumstances.
2016 NRS Grafton to Inverell
The team’s most significant result for the NRS season thus far has come in the spectacular winning of the women’s Grafton to Inverell Classic by team rider Holly Ranson. This race was an epic 236km road race which was only one week after the tumultuous Tour of Mersey Valley. Holly, who spent the 2015 season dealing with a chronic fatigue issue has signalled her comeback to the sport in emphatic fashion!
Tour of Murray Bridge
One of the highlights of the calendar for both the Elite ladies and the Tandems is the Skinny Lattes Tour of Murray Bridge. For the women, this comprises of a time trial and criterium on day one, and a road race on day two. MBA Blackchrome only had two riders available for this tour due to schedule clashes with the Victorian Road Series Mt Baw Baw Classic. Victoria lined up with Maddie, fresh from representing the country in the World University Games. Unfortunately for Maddie, fresh is probably not the word to use. Maddie had acquired a nasty tropic fever in the Philippines, and had an enormous issue with lactic acid build up in the stage two criterium, resulting in a DNF, effectively preventing her start in the road race.
Victoria however powered on. Taking a convincing win in the time trial, Victoria managed to avoid being side swiped in the last corner of the criterium to snatch third place from two fast-finished SASI riders. The road race was a tough 97km course and mostly flat, so not to Victoria’s liking. The race was decided in the last 4km, when Jenny McPherson launched the defining break. Victoria was mid-pack at the time, but had enough gas to launch off the front and cross the gap to a charging Jenny. Working together, both riders prevented any riders from being able to join the break. The race finishing in a heart stopping sprint between Jenny and Victoria, with Jenny proving the stronger finisher on the flat. Victoria finished second overall to Jenny who also clinched the series win.
Round Two Skinny Lattes Road Series
Report by Christina Teniswood
Sunday saw round 2 of the SLCC Women’s racing series take place in Gumeracha. It was also the first round of the newly implemented CSA Women’s Winter Race Series sponsored by Cycle Closet & Van D’am Racing with the leader’s jersey up for grabs, so it was going to be a hotly contested race! The course consisted of 2 big and 2 small loops through Gumeracha, Kenton Valley and Mt Torrens – a nice rolling hills stage which included 1300m of elevation over the 97kms, including 3.5 times up Kenton Valley Rd, 4 times up Mt Torrens and two times along Burfords Hill Rd which has 3 short but sharp pinches. Plenty of opportunity to see who would have the best climbing legs on the day.
Nine girls fronted up for the elite women’s start with 4 from Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome – Victoria, Lucy, Narelle and myself as well as 4 from USG and Jenny MacPherson. With VV and Lucy on the front, our team set a solid pace up the 6km climb out of Gumeracha. We kept the pace up and by the time we hit the top of Mt Torrens Hill at around 10-12km I looked back to realise we had dropped ½ the bunch! Only MBA Blackchrome riders remained and the always strong Jenny Macpherson. Now the break had been established the next couple of laps saw us take rolling turns to maintain the lead and apart from a few mini surges and attacks to suss things out we all worked together trying to stay as fresh as possible for the last lap and final hill climb. Luckily or not so luckily we got a test run at the finish as we had to do 2 loops of Burfords Hill Rd and ride the final summit climb where our men’s team (who had ridden in the tandems) were there to give us some support along the way – thanks guys for the cheers!
The last lap came down to the final 3 hills with both Lucy and I launching hard and fast attacks along the first two hills. VV gave us all a probe, countering with a steady pull over the crest. Jenny had also worked hard to counter the attack, re-joining with VV and continuing the pace to further gap pursuit. Narelle had the legs to chase, and the three riders were left vying for the final climb. About ¾ of the way up the final climb, VV launched her definitive attack, with Jenny giving her all to pursue. With nothing left for the last hill I happily watched VV glide her way up the final climb to the finish with Jenny 2nd, Narelle 3rd, me 4th and Lucy 5th. A super strong race by our team scoring 4 of the top 5 results as well as the coveted Women’s WRS leader’s jersey! Thank you to Lynette Collins and SLCC, commissaries, volunteers and our moto rider for keeping us safe and organising a great race. Definitely looking forward to the next SLCC round – a hill climb up the old freeway on 12th June.
The team was represented in A grade by Michel Bloffwitch. There was no less carnage in A grade on the hilly course with four riders registering a DNF and a whopping 25 minutes separating first place and 12 place over the 71km course. Michele, not generally considered a climber, rode impressively to claim 9th place. We may just convert her to being a goat after all.
Skinny Lattes 2016 Women’s Series
The 2016 Skinny Lattes Women’s Series has a sensational line up of events this year, specifically geared to pushing the Elite and A Grade Women. Round one was a time trial held out at Williamstown on a glorious Sunday morning. The team had three riders line up to contest an undulating course on a day which would rapidly climb into the high 30’s in temperature. Victoria grabbed second place in the Elite Division, while TT guru Michele Bloffwitch powered into second place in A grade.
2016 World University Road Race Championships
Madeleine Steel was recently in the Philippines for the World University Championships, in what can only be described as cycling chaos! Maddie’s experience was a cross between a cycling odyssey and an episode of Top Gear, with competitors pitted against traffic and landslides. It possibly would have been less hazardous to decide the victor with a boxing tournament.
Firstly, the course for the criterium was changed at the last minute as the organisers failed to get council approval for the flat course that had been signed off by the UCI. Team Sprinter Maddie was then faced with 75 metres of climbing for every 1.8km loop. To give perspective, that means that the men’s 54km criterium covered 2200m of climbing. Maddie was not the only rider disadvantaged – Poland has specifically selected two track sprinters to contest the event. But Maddie doesn’t quit, and despite the course being to her least advantage, she powered through to finish 17th.
In typical golden-girl style, Maddie soldiered on into the next adventure – we could make a “traveller’s guide to the Philippines traffic” out of the next chapter. The road race was delayed by a landslide! The course that Maddie found herself ducking and weaving through must have been diverted up every hill the officials could find in the vicinity of the course, which was vastly different to the profile the athletes had been given in their tour information. Instead of 650m of climbing in the 80km, Maddie ended up with 1700m of mountain trawling. But who can get overwhelmed by the leg pain when you are distracted by a spectator accidentally throwing a full water bottle at the side of your head? Not to mention having to duck and weave between
standstill traffic, and having to interpret the instructions coming from the police who were scrambling all over the road as they struggled to clear the traffic! Maddie was pulled from the course, as was nearly half the field, but technically finished the day 14th. It is possible that Maddie needed a few glasses of wine to soothe very achy legs.
World Masters Qualifier
Team rider Christina Teniswood continues her strong form, having qualified for the World Masters Road Championships scheduled for September in Perth. Qualification is tough for women as you need to finish in the top 20% of your field. As the size of the women’s field is usually small, this generally means riders have to finish in the top three or four riders in order to qualify through to Perth. Christina raced in what could possibly rival Madeleine’s chaos in the Philippines World University Championships. The road course was changed at the last minute, and, in a disappointing reflection of community attitude, some bright spark had covered the course in tacks. Combine this will a litany of serious crashes, and Christina did well to return with her collar bones and her bike intact! Better than just returning safe, Christina did her homework, and marked the riders mostly likely to contribute to the critical plays of the day. The three strongest riders kept close to each other and sailed clear of the carnage, finishing with same time, and Christina picking up the bronze medal.
2016 Tour of Goolwa
Our elite women contested last year’s Tour of Goolwa when the team was the only composite team to enter. We had three women and two strapping lads line up against a host of all-men teams. It was an incredible achievement to come away with third overall. This year was all the more challenging, in that this time we were the only all-women team lined up against all-men’s teams. We truly looked like minnows, in that all of our elite ladies in the Goolwa team are quite diminutive, but we cut our way through and survived the wind regardless.
Day one comprised a 23km team time trial, followed by an epic 85 km road race in typically windy conditions. The team time trial was as near to technically perfect as you can get, but the team ran foul of a passing truck. The wind-wash literally blew Narelle off the back of the group, which put the team down to three riders for the reamining 10km. The team was 7th of 8 teams following the stage, but clawed their way to 5th place following a very gutsy team effort in stage two. The ladies further consolidated their position in a second day which was far more suited to their strength. A 47km stage three involved three laps of a course which involved a viscious climb. It also involved a hill-top finished which gave our ladies a fairer contest unlike a flat sprint finish. Stage four was an individual time trial up the Crowsnest climb, as always, a completely undelightful experience on totally knackered legs. Our minnow status was our advantage here, with the team climbing to 4th place following our efforts on day two.
Michele Bloffwitch was also representing the team in the individual D grade competition. Sitting 6th after the time trial, Michele had to recover from a crash in stage two that took half the field down. The other riders did stop however, allowing the group to collect and continue, and Michele soldiered on to finish 9th. As a result of the crash the day before, the field was diminished for day two, but Michele was able to continue despite her injuries. Following stage three and stage four results, Michele finished the competition 8th overall.
State Criteium Championships
The team encountered major scheduling problems with the State Criterium, with the vast majority of our riders competing interstate. Luckily enough we were aptly represented by Madeleine Steele in the Open Women’s Championships, and Taylor Ford in the Under 23 competition. Both ladies rode an attacking race, with Madeleine picking up 3rd place, and Taylor finishing with the silver medal in her division.
Round Four Elite Women’s Series
The conditions for round four were typically windy at Victoria Park. Also running to script were the riders who would make a race of the evening. Several non-committal probes punctuated the early part of the race as per previous weeks, but nothing was being let off the front. Only at the ¾ mark, as legs were starting to fatigue, did some serious breakaway attempts form. The usual suspects, Victoria Veitch and Carlee Taylor were willing to push for a winning break. To their disappointment however, their SASI and Adelaide University Cycling Club breakaway counterparts were putting in no such effort. The breakaway would have easily stayed away with the four riders, but with only two riders working it was pointless, and within another lap, the bunch was back together. There was at least some divine justice, with Dani McKinerery, having pulled the plug on the success of the breakaway, being pipped at the post by legendary Valentina Scandolara.
Round Five Elite Women’s Series
With heavy hitters Victoria, Lucy, and Taylor tackling the Victorian Alps at the Tour of Bright, Narelle and Michele joined regulars Alana and Madeleine for their first hit out of the season. Some of us were hoping that the ToB would claim a number of other series regulars, but were left disappointed when a large field assembled on the start line. With depleted numbers representing the team, it wasn’t boding well for the point’s race.
SASI once again had a strong line-up and it was clear from the start that we were in for a tough afternoon. We worked hard to cover their repeated attacks and ensure we stuck with the main field. A solo attack with 2 laps to go from Chloe Moran proved decisive. Whist Narelle went on a kamikaze pursuit of her in the final lap, Madeleine and Alana went with the smarter option, sticking with the chasing bunch in readiness for a sprint finish. Both girls rode strongly, securing top 15 placings and ensuring Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome gained valuable points in the team classification. Not to be forgotten, Michele was also there at the pointy end having dug deep throughout the race to help her teammates cover SASi’s attacks.
Round Six Elite Women’s Series
Theoretically, the team was back to full strength for round six, but in numbers only. The Tour of Bright was going to take its toll, and with training for Nationals and the TDU in full swing, the squad was represented by some mighty tired legs. Reassuring then, that the night still turned out to be a round in which valuable ground was clawed back in terms of team points. As a stunning reversal in conditions (sarcasm), it was windy….very windy! Interesting then, that the script ran to a different beat. Numerous, punchy break away attempts were launched from all angles, with each attempt resolutely brought back. At one point, a very dangerous group of seven riders, including Victoria and Taylor were working hard for several laps away. Nothing was going to stick on this night, but it was so impressive that so many riders made the attempt in such difficult conditions. It was also brilliant to see peloton and crowd favourite, Jenny Macpherson take the win in a spirited bunch finish. Four of our riders finished in the team points, a grand statement for a very tired team.