Tour of Bright – B Grade
Words: Daniel Siwek & Mark Sampson
Photos: Jean-Pierre Ronco
It’s that time of year again when everyone starts unpacking their climbing legs for the annual Tour of Bright which is the final race in the VRS. This year promised warm days and blue skies, a welcome relief after last years cancelled due to heavy rain.
This year we went in with high hopes, finally having an opportunity to put our hard work to good use.
The first stage of the Tour of Bright saw riders tackle a short but honest TT course. With an undulating 13km, the boys did exceptionally well to limit their losses despite having little experience in riding in time trial positions, finishing in the top half of the field.
With a brilliant victory by young rising star from Bendigo (who finished more than a minute infront of anyone else, and with a time which would have put him in the Top10 in A grade) we had to remain focused on the bigger prize on offer. With Stage 2 finishing up Tawonga Gap (7km 6%), that was the day that the big dogs (or not so big in this case) got to show their teeth.
The bunch had a very passive start with a lot of riders choosing to conserve their legs for the decisive hilltop finish. As a result, it was an all-in move by everyone for the climb and the pace heated up as riders jostled for position.
Unfortunately, as the day got unexpectedly hot, Mark suffered from cramps on the middle slopes of Tawonga, losing touch with the front group. However, Dan produced one of his best rides of the year to finish 5thon the tough stage, smacking the front group with a hard attack and pulling himself up to 7thon General Classification.
Stage 3 was the queen stage of the Tour, with Mount Hotham being the main challenge that riders faced. With 30km at 4% (not to mention The Meg, CRB Hill, and the Final Kicker. If you know, you know!) the boys were sure in for an absolute cooker of a day on the bike.
The pace was on from the drop of the flag, with riders attempting to join the initial breakaway. Mark covered some early moves, but finally, after some good effort, he found himself in a break heading full steam into the base of Mount Hotham. This gave Dan an opportunity to sit in the bunch and retain as much energy as possible in hopes that he can get a Top5 on GC.
As the climb is approximately 90mins long, the pacing is imperative to survive the infamous Mount Hotham. This was totally disregarded by the chasing group as they set an unrelenting tempo up the early slopes of the climb. This meant that the breakaway was caught very quickly, right before The Meg. Mark did his best to hold on to the front group in an attempt to further help his teammate, but eventually had to succumb to his previous efforts.
Dan yet again showed his undying spirit up the climb, finishing an extremely tough stage in 7thplace, only 54secs down on 1st. This saw Dan secure a 7thoverall on General Classification. Unfortunately, the goal of a Top5 was a near miss, but a result we can be happy with none the less.