Tour De Brisbane. The first NRS event for the year, and being located in sunny Brisbane, made it even more appealing to attend given the rapid drop in temperature in Tasmania.
I have come off some solid summer racing, from the pre-Christmas criterium events, Road Nationals, Oceania Championships, State Titles, and just last weekend the Baw Baw Classic. I was coming into this race feeling quite calm. Knowing my form, and excited.
I used to get nervous coming into these races, because everything and everyone has been quite unknown to me. I haven’t felt like that recently, with some good results behind me and plenty of it I have learnt something from all the races and become more familiar with other riders in the peloton.
Tour De Brisbane consists of a UCI criterium, followed by the 110km National Road Series road race. Brisbane turned on the weather for both these days, with sunny, mid 20degree days.
I arrived in Brisbane on the Thursday, two days before the crit, staying at an airBNB in Kangaroo Point. I jumped on my bike Thursday afternoon to spin the legs out after 3hrs of sitting on a plane and headed out toward the crit course. This gave me some opportunity to take a look at the course. While I didn’t ride it, I could see it was flat, narrow in parts and it would be fast.
Friday morning, I had been put in contact with another NRS women’s team; The Women’s Racing Project who were happy enough for me to tag along on their morning spin, the ‘river loop’. Unfortunately, this was the first of unfortunate events for the weekend that involved my wheels when just 20minutes in I experienced a flat tyre. This would be okay if I wasn’t riding in tubulars, yes, this is a rookie mistake. Luckily one of the riders (Simon) owns a cycling store; Studio De Velo and had a mate who brought me a training wheel and took my Zipp for some TLC.
I had wasted some time, and the other girls now had to get themselves to work, but Simon acted tour guide, and took me up to Mt Coot-tha. The climb that everyone was talking about for Sunday’s road race. The climb was steady, some bumps and rolls with a fast, technical descent. Training ride, it was great, race pace, it would be tough.
The remainder of my day was spent relaxing, before I decided to head out to the Anna Mears Velodrome for the first night of Brisbane Six Days Cycling event and watch teammate Lauren Perry race.
The Criterium event was at 9:30am Saturday morning for the women. I road in with the Holden Gusto girls, grabbed a coffee nearby and warmed up on the trainer. The KOM Racing team were helping me out for the day. It was hot, but I wasn’t stressed, I always expect a hard crit and there were some quality girls lined up.
The crit started, and as usual the pace was on from the start. With attacks and speed the peloton wasn’t letting anything get away and any attacks were quickly pulled in. I positioned well, able to close in on anything, stay out of trouble and see what was happening in the race. Coming into the final lap, I found my place about fifth wheel, a great position with 400m to go. Unfortunately, another racers pedal went into my wheel, breaking two spokes and giving me a not so straight wheel. This was the second in the series of unfortunate wheel events for my weekend. I managed to keep myself upright, calmly got out of trouble and pulled off the side. However, I was a DNF for the race.
It’s always tough to race a whole event to not finish at the very end. Thanks go out to Veris rider and fellow Tasmanian Kathryn who brought me a spare wheel to save the walk back!
The next day was the road race, which I was most excited for. It was a very early 6:18am start. In order to be ready in time, and have a good breakfast before the race, my alarm was set to 4:30am. I generally don’t find these early starts hard on a race day as my mind is very focused. I am also a morning person (although this is typically next level early morning). Dan from KOM Racing picked me up Sunday morning. While Simon from Studio De Velo was quickly to my aid again, having been unable to fix my wheel on such short notice, he had some race wheels for me.
And so, became my third unfortunate event. Just before the start, we noticed what must have been a slow leak in the rear tyre. Better noticed now then mid race. One final wheel change and we were good to go. Surprisingly I didn’t feel stressed about the wheel situation at all. I have come to accept that for me to have any sort of good race, some bad things need to happen before it, and that really these things are out of my control. I am so lucky I had so many supportive teams around me for my solo racing weekend though.
The race started in the city, and the first 15kms took us in what felt like, every direction of the city. It was a technical start with many 90degree turns, as well as U-turns and tunnel riding. I was disorientated as to our location very quickly. I have to say the tunnel riding was very cool. It was fast, and just something you otherwise don’t get to do.
After 20kms we hit the much-anticipated Mt Coot-tha climb. 6kms of climbing, but not all of it straight up. I positioned myself straight to the front, so that I was in a position to respond to anything. The attacks came quickly, and I found myself able to respond to them as well as drive some of the pace. A small group formed, to include riders from Specialized and Roxsalt. Unfortunately, while a strongly represented break, we did not work together to stay away. We were caught by a second split from the bunch that had formed up Coot-tha to make us about 25 riders.
With so many riders and teams, no one was taking the lead and again, we were caught by the remaining peloton. With 20kms to go, a winning move was made to form a break that included winner Emily Roper and second place getter Taryn Heather. I can’t really say what happened for me when this move went. I didn’t actually see it, and I noticed no serge from the bunch to prevent it from happening. I wasn’t even aware it had happened until some time later. I think there was a point of the race around this time where I was toward the back of the bunch, and perhaps it occurred at that point. That’s always the risk of that position though, unlucky for me it had been about the only time of the day I was back there.
The finish happened really fast. Coming off the highway and all of a sudden it was wide road into a single lane on a 90degree right hander, before another 90degree with road islands to maneuver. While I made it through these fine, many toward the back of the pack were not to fortunate and the last technical components caused some crashes for some riders. I found myself in the main bunch sprint, toward the back finishing with the same +2second time from the winner and overall 14th.
I came away with a lot learnt from this race, probably the most I have from any race I have done in the last 12 months. Tour De Brisbane was a hard but rewarding race and I look forward to racing it again. A special thanks goes out to all the teams and individuals that helped me out over the weekend.
Up next; A break from the bike for me, after a lot of racing lately and then preparation for Europe, as I head there with Holden Gusto, alongside teammates Anya and Ruby who are part of Cycling Australia Development Team.