Look away now if you are only interested in dirt, mud and mountain biking. I have never blogged about a road race. Mostly because there is not usually much to write as they are short and somewhat formulaic, and as such it would usually go like this "Group ride, with a few failed breakaways with a bunch sprint finish." Add to this, that I usually miss the important part of these races...The sprint finish. The Cunningham Classic in general is different, and this one (and I might be a little biased here) was A LOT different.
This was my 2nd Cunningham Classic, with my participation last year in the 30th running of the event, exceeding my expectations and leaving me looking forward to this year's event as soon as I crossed the line. What I liked was climb up the range, the rarely flat terrain, even the fabled head and cross winds for which the Cunningham Classic is renowned, but most of all I liked the 96k distance. It certainly makes for tougher and more interesting racing than a criterium at the Nundahdome.
Like last year, Masters B was divided into 2 groups, each with around 50 riders. I was number 51. I was happy to see a couple of mates in my group, first timer Dillon Price, and Sean Dench, who knows how I race, and we figured we might be able to make a breakaway work with 10k or so to go. The main aim would be to keep my nose out of the wind and not chase down every break.
On the start line in Gatton, the conditions for the 31st edition of the Cunningham Classic were looking ideal, a bright sunny day, around 18 degrees, and only a slight breeze. However, I knew from my experience last year that the wind conditions in Gatton were usually calmer than over the range.
|Ready for Race Start|
I dropped back to find Sean and tell him to "reign me in", but before I could talk to him, he was off the front chasing down a lone rider (Damien Stacy). I went after them and the breakaway group was formed with just under 90k to go. We worked well together and it was not long before the Moto told us we had a 30s break, and it started to feel so real. Just like watching the TDF on TV :)
|Approaching the KOM|
|The final part of the KOM|
Jon, Jamie and Tim sought the refuge of the bunch, but I kept to my target of chasing the MI jersey and rode in a way that many would think insane. I never missed a turn on the front, and even filled in the gaps as riders struggled to take their turns. It was already the case that out of the 10 or so riders in the group, only perhaps 5 were really driving. Updates from the Moto were a fairly constant 1min 30secs, but I wanted to make sure we stayed ahead. I was about 4th wheel when we turned at Allora, and was quite miffed when the 3 riders ahead of me started to look at each other to see who was going to do the work. Anyone who knows how I ride, knows that this kind of carry on drives me wild, and true to style, and in keeping with pursuit of the MI jersey, I went to the front. Things continued in this vein, with me trying to spend as much time on the front as I could handle. On the gentle rises, I was feeling strong relative to the bunch, often riding off the front and soft pedalling back to the group. I did this 3 or 4 times, and I was on the front with about 10k to go when Jamie tried to breakaway with another rider .Somehow I managed to go with them.
Everything from here is a blur...
We worked a few turns each until it was just Jamie and I. Another couple of turns each, and I think we were caught by more riders, but to be honest, I didn't look back to know for sure. Next climb, I pedalled away again, but this time I pushed hard on the descent. I quickly established a gap, and with about 6km to go it was ITT time.
|The Finish Line|
A big thanks to the Kangaroo Point Cycling Club and officials. Thanks to the Dillon and his father, Malcolm, for spending the day to drive Dillon's car so we had a way to get home. Thanks also to ESI Sports Photography for the pics. The burgers and chips at the Horse & Jockey Hotel really hit the spot while we waited for the presentations. It was also mission accomplished on the Most Impressive jersey too, so I really could not have hoped for a better ride. Final results are here.
My Stats for the day...