Race day: April 24th 2016
I’m pretty sure this is the only crit being held by the northern combine, it wouldn't be too difficult for me to find out, but I can’t be bothered, so I’ll go with my gut—which I failed to listen to during this particular race.
The grading was a bit odd for this one, with races including Elite teams, support race 1, support race 2 and support race 3. I was put into support race 2, which appeared to be a mix of C grade and good D graders.
The course was out in Essendon airport, and one of the corners is known as a hotdog corner. This is a full 180 degree turn. It's basically chaos. You head into this corner at full tilt, brake as late as you dare, corner and then you have to sprint to catch the front of the bunch. Unless you are the front, in which case you sprint just to punish those puny tagalongs. Put them in the red so to speak.
I can’t say I was too confident heading into this one, but I did still think I was going to win. All I had to do was survive the 50 minutes, get in the right position at the end and win the sprint… Easy.
The race started and immediately I realised I might not win. It was fast and furious from the start. Whatever, survive and win was still on the agenda.
I figured it’d be good strategy to go into the hotdog corner first, so I wouldn’t need to do any chasing. I tell you, great in theory, however I spent about 2 laps on the front and no one would come around me to do some work. I didn't want to drag the bunch around so I decided to try and power away, but this was an absolute waste of time. I didn’t get any advantage. I only found out my legs were shit.
No more sitting on the front.
Lap after lap my competition tried and failed to breakaway, until about halfway through. A guy shot of the front and managed to build a pretty decent gap. It was a bit worrying, but I wasn’t going to chase. The legs weren’t great remember. And I didn't have it in me to bridge the gap, because of that same reason.
Anyway, worry over, he was dragged back after about 5 laps. Rarely does a one man breakaway work, and if it does, it’s because they’re doping, or sandbagging and put themselves in the wrong grade! I’d keep tabs on this guy, however. Five laps on your own is no mean feat.
after some boring and some more boring
It finally came to the last few laps and low and behold, Mr Breakaway goes again. This time someone follows him. My gut told me to follow, too. They might make it. But, nah, my legs said no—I remember now, I’d done an 80km ride in the hills the day before, seriously I did, check my strava—so I decided to hope the bunch would drag them back. No one wanted to work on the front. This wasn't ideal. But it's fair, whoever works on the front isn’t going to be able to win the sprint, generally speaking, so why would you? Do all the work for someone else's glory.
I knew I should have gone. By the time the two men got to the hotdog corner it was over, all they had to do was maintain a decent speed to take 1 and 2. It was now on for 3rd place. Just before all this, Doug tried to put down the power to catch them before the hotdog, but ran out of gas pretty quickly, I then went around him, but didn’t have enough in the legs to pull them back.
After the dog leg it was full gas to the finish. I hopped on a big guy’s wheel, but he faltered pretty quickly and I was left to try and make up a fair gap in a short amount of time. I crossed the line down in 5th or 6th or something worse probably. Not a good day on the bike. And I have decided crits are way more boring than road races.