Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Preview: Footscray 3 Day Tour

The cycling season continues to march on-wards and the year is almost half over, I can’t believe how quickly it’s going by. 

Hanging on the back of A Grade in the Salter Memorial with FCC.

The June Queens Birthday Long Weekend is traditionally the time for club tours (and the opening of the Victorian Snow Season), although this has changed somewhat over the years due to the difficult logistics in conducting multi-day events at club level a number of clubs still run their tours at this time.  My club, the Footscray Cycling Club, is one of the clubs still upholding this tradition and I will be racing their 55th Annual 3 Day Tour over the coming weekend.

As this is my first year with the Footscray Cycling Club I am not entirely sure as to what to expect other than the usual very hard racing that this club proudly throws at you! I am racing in the “main” category which is comprised of a small but talented and strong field so I am expecting nothing less than a difficult couple of days on the bike.

Stage 1: Lloyd Dickson Memorial Stage

The early part of this course if pretty much flat, but it will probably be windy… it always seems to be windy at Balliang.  Hmm, flat, windy and… fast.  That’ll sum up the early part of the race.  I’ll tip that there will be a lot of restlessness in the bunch and a whole lot of gutter action.

The out and back section should be a bit of fun, I’ve raced this section a lot of times over the years with the Geelong Cycling Club as well as trained around it more times that I can recall since the early 1990’s before the connecting roads got too busy. It is undulating with a few short sharp climbs which shouldn’t but may actually cause the bunch some issues if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are also some very fast sections that can cause issues if you are inattentive at the wrong time… I recall one race I did here in about.. oh, 1992.. where I lost contact with my bunch at around 70kph as I left a slight gap and just couldn’t pedal fast enough to make my way back to the bunch… and that was race over.

There are 3 KOM’s on the out and back section, the first one up a long drag up Staughtonvale Rd, the second on the east side of the Granite Rd climb and the final one on the west side of the Granite Rd climb.

Stage 2: David Allen Memorial Stage

This is a familiar circuit to me, I've done my fair share of training and racing through this area and on a good day I quite like this circuit and the climbs.  It’ll be interesting to see how my strength holds up in the latter parts of the race. 

The KOM is about half way up the main climb once the climb itself flattens out and will be available on laps 2, 3 and 4. The first part of the climb is tricky as you need to hit it with a lot of momentum and from the front of the field as well, you will need to hit it in the big ring and try to power through the steepening gradient using your gears to maintain a high cadence to keep the momentum going – just DON’T get bogged down. Once over this section you should be able to then smash it all the way to the turn off in the big ring.

…easy to say now of course.

Once over the top it’s a pretty fast and undulating run to the end of the lap, the finish line is the same one used by the Geelong Cycling Club who also race on this same course.  The finish comes after a slight gradient which is more than a false flat but couldn’t really be considered as a hill.

Stage 3: Steve Poloni Memorial Stage

This stage uses the very deceiving Flinders course as it’s core, however a finish on top of the You Yangs will make for an interesting finale.   On paper the circuit looks pretty simple and relatively flat but I’ve raced the Flinders course on two previous occasions as a Geelong Cycling Club member and recall it as being windy, fast and full of leg sapping false flats. 

A finish on top of the You Yangs is going to be fun, the climb is not overly difficult but will certainly influence the finishing places on the stage.  I haven’t ridden up there in a really long time, last time was probably 3 years ago, but I recall it as being a good power based tempo climb but you’ll need to kick hard at the end as it flattens out.

…and finally a tour without a Time Trial!

I know I’ve neglected talking about the sprints as they are generally irrelevant to me, being the tortoise that I am, but apparently there are a couple of intermediates in each stage.

My goals are pretty much undefined for the Tour and I will just see how I'm feeling and will assess the race opportunities as they come along. Ultimately I just want to finish so I can get my free feed at Di Caprio's on Monday!

I've had a series of pretty hard hit outs over the last month so I am hoping the strength and hardness in the legs (and head) are beginning to manifest themselves into something that puts me in good stead for the Tour and hopefully for the rest of the season.