Tour of Mansfield Stage 1&2 Race Report
By Tristan Saunders
Tour of Mansfield is definitely a race for the climbers. Three stages – two of which finish at the top of the mountain it probably shouldn’t have been a race for me. One of the benefits of team racing is that we only needed one rider going well uphill to have a successful tour.
The morning TT was pretty grim with a lot of rain about the course doing much to stamp out some motivation. We did a quick warm up on the turbos before getting going at about 9am. The course was a 13.6km rolling course, meaning that those relying on sitting on a single power number would be struggling. My pacing was a little off as I wanted to save a bit for the back half of the course. But by undercooking it on the short climb I had a bit too much left in the tank as the back of the course was a tailwind. I ended up about 25th leading into the afternoon’s stage, with Iven rolling in just in front of me – so not even intra-team bragging rights were available for me.
Going into the afternoon stage we were all keen for some windy racing with a 20-minute climb to finish it off – almost the best (or worst) of both worlds. We started a bit further back than what we would have wanted (and told to be..) which made the first 20kms of crossies a little more difficult. We all rode pretty good position and managed to stay up the front majority of the time. A break went but not all teams represented were in it, so we didn’t all get on the front to chase. At the turn around at the Mt. Buller gates, we had a line of 6 guys perfectly positioned for the chop on the way back to Old Tolmie. When the cross winds picked up, I was sitting on the back of the front group. Sure enough, the gutter action made everyone a bit nervous and there was a crash that split the groups up. We all managed to ride back across to the front group after a savage chop off on the way toward the climb. We managed to get Iven, Liam, Blake and myself in front of Dan for the climb. Unfortunately, Dan dropped his chain right at the base of the climb and there was no getting back on for him with a bent chain. Accidentally, I was the highest placed finisher from the team, putting myself in the top 20 on GC with just one mountain to go tomorrow. The boys all just tapped up to the top to save some energy for tomorrow.