By David Randall
For many Australian cycling fans, the Tour Down Under is a highlight and is definitely worth a trip to Adelaide from all parts of the country. Having made the trip a couple of times before, I was already excited to return to watch the WorldTour riders and to race in Norwood Cycling Club’s Super Series. The stoke levels intensified when I found out Cycling South Australia was hosting a round of the National Criterium Series, in Adelaide’s CBD no less.
The team had had a successful three days in the Norwood Super Series, on the podium each day – I finished 4th in a kermesse around Bradbury, and Tristan and Hutchy sprinted to 2nd and 5th in the two crits at Victoria Park. Given this success we had similar hopes for the Trek Night Riders Criterium, finishing on Flinders St just around the corner from the TDU Village, and getting on the podium would be a good result and big challenge against a strong field.
We turned up early on the night as I was competing in a “Trekstand” challenge, having won a competition at Bright Brewery a couple of years ago when the Tour of Bright was rained out. This time, though, a number of borderline-gymnasts turned up (including National Criterium Series leader Jensen Plowright), who were pretty comfortable doing a track stand with no hands and one foot out. I tapped out pretty early, my skills don’t extend quite that far!
As our race neared, we were pretty amazed by the turnout – it’s not often we get to race with music blaring in front of a massive crowd in a big city, and the crowd was pretty close to a finish in the Tour Down Under! They got to see a spectacle from the gun, with a number of crashes separating the nervous nellies from the crit pigs and splitting the bunch. I managed to wind my way through the carnage with Will Golding and Jason Thomason, both of whom protected my wheel and rode well given they both prefer a much more challenging parcours.
Up against the HPU track team, Inform and Bridgelane, I managed to latch onto the wheel of Jensen Plowright in the last few laps until a couple of guys behind me dived through the inside of the final hairpin corner. I went wide and just sprinted well enough to secure 2nd place. While we were a country mile behind Jensen by the time we hit the line, 2nd behind arguably the best sprinter on form in Australia felt as good as a win! Will and Hutchy both finished in the top 10, rounding out a really good day (and week) for the team.
Getting on the podium in the Tour Village in front of Jens Voigt, a crowd of cycling fans, and our title sponsors Butterfields and Insurance Advisernet was a thrill and rewarding for the whole team. Massive kudos have to go to Cycling South Australia for organising such a good race on a great course and to my teammates for backing me in one of the biggest races all summer. Thanks also to Butterfields and Insurance Advisernet for watching and for supporting the team in 2020!