They were gathered in the plaza, by the clock tower in the Square,
With their double shot espressos from the car,
While the Chief Comm gave the briefing, “Keep it safe and keep it fair,
For the first inaugural running of The Gravel and The Tar.”
As they headed out to Ashhurst, there was action from the gun,
With the young bloods ever keen to test their strength
But every move was risky, there was money to be won,
No one keen to leave a gap of any length.
The Aussie’s thought they’d own it, being more suited to the heat1,
For a scorcher had been forecast for the race.
But despite the soaring temps, their plan was incomplete,
They clearly hadn’t counted on the pace.
In fact, the final move went early, far too early some would say,
With 90 k of racing stretched ahead.
The peleton was lazy, it would never stay away,
“They’re dreamin’” was the sentiment oft said.
The 2015 Road cycling world champs have been undoubtedly the best cycling experience I have ever had.
After flying into Chiacago and staying for two nights to watch Lizzie race in the Triathlon World Champs, Dad and I drove through the night down to Richmond Virginia where I met up with the Cycling NZ team. We were staying about 5 miles out from the course, so it was a brief ride in every day for riding and a short drive for racing. The NZ team was stacked; we had Greg Henderson, Jesse Sergent, Sam Bewley, Linda Villumsen, Jo Keisanowski, Rushlee Beucannan, James Oram, Dion Smith, Hayden Mcormick, Sam Dobbs, James Fouche, Georgia Catterick, Hannah Gumbley, Mikayla Harvey, and me. We were also lucky to have the help of the USA-based UHC pro racing team mechanics and soigneuers; it felt as though we were true professionals. The German team was also staying at the same place, and that was a highlight on its own, with the likes of Tony Martin, Tom Domoulin, and Andre Gripel.
My first race was the individual time trial, on the 22nd. The 30 km course in Richmond was amazing, incredibly quick, technical and through the inner city streets, the atmosphere bolstered by the massive crowds lining the barriers (even on practice days). The course was two laps of a 15km circuit, heading down the historic Monument Ave, out and back on the paved surface, before a long straight stretch across the river – really quick on the way out and a grind back. The lap was topped off with a quick descent and a short steep climb to the finish. I had 4 days in Richmond before my TT, so plenty of time to adjust to the 30 degree temperature and practice the course.
The day dawned cloudy, clear and cold with no immediate sign of rain and many people suddenly deciding that it was time to ride the festival. People started arriving at the football clubrooms at 7:15 and it was all on with approximately 80 late entries rolling up on the day. A very busy time for the ladies at the registration desks, and timing people assigning chips and numbers.
With 20 odd registered for the Sprockets NZ Jo Allen Memorial classic race the handicappers job was not too bad. The first two riders were away at 8.30 and with only two riders they had nowhere to hide from the weather conditions. The A grade riders group were last away at 8:58, they must have been feeling comfortable, because as they left as they were all chatting to each other. The eventual winner had a good lead coming down from Kimbolton but the chasing group made some inroads across the flats to be only a few hundred metres behind at the line. Josh Page was not only the first across the line but also had the fastest time of 2:07:23, congratulations.