October 18, 2016

Van D’am Racing p/b Butterfields: Anchor Point Melbourne to Warrnambool 2016

The 2016 Anchor Point Melbourne to Warnambool certainly lived up to being one of the hardest races on the calendar. On paper it doesn’t look to be that tricky- long at over 270km, but with barely a bump on the profile it could be quite straightforward. However throw in some very exposed roads and 50km/h cross winds and this really changes the equation. There were two races within this race, the break and the peloton. Read Nick’s and Tom’s version of events below.

 

VDR WARNIE1

Life in the break – Nick Squillari

“Lachie, pop the sprints on there. Just in case…” I said. The instructions earlier from the boss had been to “sniff around” the early move. Which is all well and good to suggest, but when the ‘Warny’ is only spare change short of 280km long it’s not always a move that’s easy to get into. And rarely does it stick. Last year I was super motivated and after 50km of trying made the day’s break. This year the wind worried me. Cross tail is the hardest to race in, so really wasn’t convinced the break would be given much – if any – leash.

Less than 15km into the race…and I was in the break. An eight man move had gone clear and the front of the bunch had started to ease. I was at the front and had one attempt to bridge brought back. Took a few gulps of air then stayed seated, revved it up over 400w, held it and pretty much closed my eyes. I had a gap. And Chris Harper coming across. Good. Now Robbie Hucker and Dan Fitter. Excellent! A few more minutes of pain (the eight up the road saw us but made us work for it) we were in touch and away. Now the following 150km of a 12-up chop off doesn’t made for super entertainment. Suffice to say though there was laughter (and relieved agreement) when Patty Lane said “would hate to be in the pelo in this crosswind!” as we rolled from Shelford to Lismore. Sure enough it was carnage in the bunch behind. Unlucky. But the break was mostly polite. Some dudes were hurting, but that’s to be expected in a race this long. Only Grafton to Inverell has sent me deeper than this race. Hard to train for and one of those situations you have to be in it to find where your limit really is.

I didn’t contest the first sprint prime but with Ed White (winner of the first prime) hurting, had a dip – and was second – at the second in Lismore. At 150km into the race the legs were still feeling good and I was backing myself to stay with the break at least to the third prime in Terang. It was a tough day but this is The Warny. You sign up to hurt – and this was my sixth time signing on that dotted line. Only with all that it was gutting to then be dropped in a fashion that was largely disappointing (from those involved) just after Lismore. But that’s bike racing. Or at least that’s what the cliche tells us to accept.

Harper (another victim) and myself then sat up (after burning way too many matches in chasing) – ate and drank as much as we could manage – and waited for the chase bunch to come storming through. Of course the chase came storming past at a speed that encouraged us to not jump on board. I couldn’t make contact but Chris did. Those legs that took him to 3rd in the Tour of Tasmania were still going strong. Struggling in the convoy they stayed 100m out of reach for another 5km before my legs truly blew and I was struggling to hold 250w. Lights out, day over. And still Camperdown and 80km to go…

The team car came and paid me a visit up the second KOM. There was a big bunch behind, so I could slip in with them. Perfect. I was ready to disappear from the world and forget about that last hour. Only I never saw them. Well, I did. One rider – my club mate and friend from home – rode away from them after the KOM. And after 20km of sitting on his wheel (and still shovelling anything I could manage into my mouth) we chopped off for the final 50km to the line. A dropped Matt Clarke told us we’d still be top 30 on the road. And after what had personally amounted to a pretty shit and disappointing day, a top 30 would still be my best result ever in the race.


Made it to the line to find the break had stayed away – which improved my mood no end. But huge effort by them and thoroughly deserved result. Especially for Nathan Elliot, who has been on the cusp of something huge for what seems like years. Importantly all the other Van D’Am boys made it through safely and to the line as well. It was a pleasure to be their guest and I’ve no doubt they’re all that little bit stronger after one of the harder recent editions of the iconic race. For me, 363 days to go until next year. Time to start training.

20161015_1452291 

I didn’t contest the first sprint prime but with Ed White (winner of the first prime) hurting, had a dip – and was second – at the second in Lismore. At 150km into the race the legs were still feeling good and I was backing myself to stay with the break at least to the third prime in Terang. It was a tough day but this is The Warny. You sign up to hurt – and this was my sixth time signing on that dotted line. Only with all that it was gutting to then be dropped in a fashion that was largely disappointing (from those involved) just after Lismore. But that’s bike racing. Or at least that’s what the cliche tells us to accept.

Harper (another victim) and myself then sat up (after burning way too many matches in chasing) – ate and drank as much as we could manage – and waited for the chase bunch to come storming through. Of course the chase came storming past at a speed that encouraged us to not jump on board. I couldn’t make contact but Chris did. Those legs that took him to 3rd in the Tour of Tasmania were still going strong. Struggling in the convoy they stayed 100m out of reach for another 5km before my legs truly blew and I was struggling to hold 250w. Lights out, day over. And still Camperdown and 80km to go…

The team car came and paid me a visit up the second KOM. There was a big bunch behind, so I could slip in with them. Perfect. I was ready to disappear from the world and forget about that last hour. Only I never saw them. Well, I did. One rider – my club mate and friend from home – rode away from them after the KOM. And after 20km of sitting on his wheel (and still shovelling anything I could manage into my mouth) we chopped off for the final 50km to the line. A dropped Matt Clarke told us we’d still be top 30 on the road. And after what had personally amounted to a pretty shit and disappointing day, a top 30 would still be my best result ever in the race.


Made it to the line to find the break had stayed away – which improved my mood no end. But huge effort by them and thoroughly deserved result. Especially for Nathan Elliot, who has been on the cusp of something huge for what seems like years. Importantly all the other Van D’Am boys made it through safely and to the line as well. It was a pleasure to be their guest and I’ve no doubt they’re all that little bit stronger after one of the harder recent editions of the iconic race. For me, 363 days to go until next year. Time to start training.

20161015_1457162
 

Life in the Peloton – Tom Allford

Some people will say to finish a Melbourne to Warnambool you’d need to prepare with piles of kilometers in training, some will say you need intensity and fresh legs. Honestly I don’t think anything could have prepared me fully for my first attempt at the longest race in the southern hemisphere.

That said this year’s addition started off very casually. The first hour or two consisted mostly of chitchat and shoveling down food for what was to come. That was untill we came to a small rise and inconspicuous left hand corner and the beginning of the crosswind sections, which would go on to split the field into race defining bunches.


Michael and myself managed to stick it out in our echelon and also managed to rope in a few bunches up the road, but our ambitions of continuing to catch the lead chase group were railed by freight train that would force us to stop, and end all hope of catching the bunch. We all rolled into the finish with little flare after that point.


All that aside I enjoyed that race more than almost any other, although a sizable challenge, it is defiantly a race worth the suffering through.