The Tour of the Great South Coast has always been a favourite race of ours. One of the reasons for this is that as the longest race on the domestic calendar there are opportunities to learn from mistakes and missed opportunities and make amends.
How it Started
After a relatively successful Tour de Tweed – and with a race suited to our characteristics, we came into the TOGSC quietly confident of turning heads. Despite our confidence, but stage one did not go to plan – Tristan was suffering from a cold (which managed to get passed onto most of the team – lucky we like the boy), and Mark and Iven touched down just over a kilometre into the race. Mark’s frame was broken in four places (plus a very bent chainring), and Iven hit his knee badly. Thankfully the rest of the stage was ok – GC hopes were intact, and the rest of the boys stayed out of trouble. Stage Two around the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier saw things improve. Mark was back in the race thanks to a borrowed bike from Drapac (who deserve a massive shout out!), and although we missed the key move – huge pulls from Rylan and Tristan saw a big gap get closed down in the last 10km. So the status quo remained.
From Good to Bad in an Instant
Stage three around Port MacDonald is notorious for crosswinds. Last year we learnt some very hard lessons, and we were very much determined not to repeat the same mistakes. The first of the four laps was textbook. The team was lined up coming into every corner, ready for any carnage that the winds would provide. Partway into the second lap, it all went bad. One challenge of riding together is that if someone goes down – there is a fair chance that someone else will go down. This was the case this time around. Rylan, Jason and Mark all came down, and Henry’s derailleur was hit so hard that he had only two functional gears. With Rylan’s top tube missing from his bike, combined with a very sore shoulder, this was his race done, as was Jason’s race after he landed very heavily. Mark would not make it through the rest of the stage. So we were down to just 4 riders with one sick and one damaged. We knew the next five stages would be hard.
Heading to Naracoorte for the first time, we had a crit and a TTT. The crit was uneventful enough – with Henry showing some hope with a clean ride to 11th in the crit, but Iven was struggling with his knee and limped around the course. Tristan sat on the front for the TTT – but there was not really much to fight for.
Turning things Around
Although in reverse to the stage we won in 2018, Casterton to Heywood offered an opportunity. A technical finish awaited the riders, but some windswept hills would put much of the field on their limit. We came through with most of the team in contact – but with limited numbers to start with, we had no opportunity to dictate the race, with a solo break staying away, and the techy finish left us just out of the top 10.
Stage 7 around Cape Bridgewater, the queen stage of the tour, puts riders on their limit. This year was no different, with the fatigue of five days hard racing starting on show. Although Iven finally succumbed to his injuries, and Henry lost contact with a lap to go – Dave and Tristan teamed up to take third in the bunch kick. Sadly it wasn’t for a podium spot, with a small break taking the stage honours. The challenge of not having riders to dictate the pace.
Stage 8 – one of the hardest criteriums in the NRS circuit finally showed what we can do. Dave, Henry and Tristan all road great position all race, and both Dave and Henry sat nicely in the bunch with a lap to go. Dave’s run to the finish was impeded by a minor mistake putting him out of podium contention, finishing 11th. Henry came through and delivered 8th, his first NRS Top 10. Not the podiums we had started the week out chasing – but after the start, we had had, it was a welcome turnaround.
Bike racing doesn’t always go to plan – and although we were not happy with how things started – the boys all showed a lot of fight to bounce back. We can’t wait to see what we do deliver next time around, as we know we are on the verge of something special.
Thanks to all those who support us – both sponsors and supporters. Special thanks to Iven’s dad Warren who did the work of 10 men to keep us on time, and organised every day of the race. Apparently, a career in Dairy puts you in good stead for managing teenage(ish) cyclists.
Next NRS for us will be the Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley – and locally the CSA Super Series. We are very keen to show what we can do!