Stage 3 – Tour of the King Valley
After a hectic start to the Sam Miranda Tour of King Valley, the boys were happy to be lining up for the highly anticipated stage 3 with all their fingers and toes. The riders were faced with a 115km loop that would take them through 5 dirt sectors including the short but decisive gravel climb, the “Strade Nero”. The weather forecast improved from Day 1, but we still expected some showers on the course and rugged up as best we could. We went into the stage with a plan of riding together at the front, trying to protect Jason and Seb en route to the main KOM. Leading up to the first dirt sector we rode together to the front of the peloton and held our position for the sharp left-hand turn onto the first dirt sector delivering Jason and Seb in a prime position. Unfortunately, just as we were about to exit the quite slippery and challenging first sector, Jason had a puncture. Seb, the first rider to spot him coming to a stop, quickly gave Jason his wheel enabling Jason to make it back to the main peloton with Seb joining shortly after. With minimal respite between the first dirt sector, a short KOM, and the following run into Strade Nero, we had precious little time to get our two leaders into a good position for the main KOM of the day.
As the climb started, Seb and Jason managed to hold onto the main contenders, and Iven, Liam and I weren’t too far back. Mark and David drifted back after doing the bulk of the work in the opening kilometres. As we neared the KOM Iven started to struggle with Liam on the rivet also. I was feeling good but too far back to get across to the main bunch. A select group of us crested the KOM including Jason who had dropped back in the final kilometre of the climb. We were left with Seb up the road with the front bunch of 20, and after a fast descent, Jason, Liam and I found ourselves in the chase group following the lead bunch. Seb, heavily outnumbered by some strong teams, did his best to follow moves rather than make his own. Eventually, a group of eight slipped away, and with 20kms to go the chase group eventually absorbed the remainders of the front bunch, including Seb. The moment the two main groups re-joined, the pace picked up substantially and I found myself in a group getting spat out the back, with the rest of my teammates soon following suit.
It was one of those ‘nearly’ days where we had a crack but ultimately our efforts and positive intent weren’t matched by our result. Tomorrow we line up for the final stage on the famous Taminick Gap circuit, looking forward to another opportunity to race hard and build on the positives we can take as a team from today.
Thanks as always go to our amazing sponsors and supporters that give us this incredible opportunity to develop as riders and people.