Cam Woolcock top 10 at Melbourne to Ballarat
aboc alumni and Hawthown Cycling Club rider Cam Woolcock tells a tale of a windy handicap
A windy and hilly smashfest today. I was off the 17 minute mark with 35 other riders. Of note there were 5 Camerons in the group, which other than guanteeing some workmanlike behaviour, also lifted the chances of on-road encouragement "Go Cam!".
The race itself, as always, started quick and we were dropping riders from the startline. This is no problem when you can only fit 15-odd riders across the single closed land, and you've got the traditional cross/head wind.
What was a bit strange was seeing three riders attack at kilometre five. The Melbourne to Ballarat is a handicap race, trying to break up your bunch anytime earlier than halfway, is generally considered foolish. Had them back by kilometre eight, but they had shown themselves as strong riders.
The rest of the race was just trying to roll turns. There was no point it trying to sit on, as it was harder than rolling through, due to the cross wind.
I felt pretty average the whole day, but got lots of encouragement, especially from Andy Van Slobbe. I had planned to lead him out if it came to a sprint.
Passed Trevor Perry in the remanents of his bunch with maybe 30 km to go. I guess he tried to get on (which would have strengthened us in the sprint), but he didn't last. Next time I saw him he was in the comfort of a car, and I'm guessing, downing a beer.
With 10 km to go we were in the front with about 12 riders working, and two or four minutes back to scratch. We were flying and it was about the first time that I thought we would actually stay away.
Three riders attacked on the turn from the highway. They were given lots of room as two were from limit and had been struggling to stay in contact.
The sprint for fourth to tenth was with from a bunch of about 15-20 riders. I was struggling to keep up with what I now think were fairly minor surges. I wasn't even thinking about getting up to the front to help Andy.
There was lots of argy bargy before the sprint: I had two rider try and collide with each other, with my handlebars being between their bums. I pushed one off with my forearm. I guess other riders were pretty nervous as well, it's not every day you sprint for that kind of cash.
Andy ended up leading out the sprint, and went strong, but too early and faded. I tried to get my legs to move to protect my position as much as possible, but didn't even get out of the seat. Ended up with tenth, which is OK.
It's a bit strange now. I'm thinking that I won't get many shots at a race of this level, so I should have taken the risk of a late escape and gone for broke. On the other hand, I was struggling to hold the wheel in front, so realistically I think that's about as good as I could have done.
Scratch came in about a minute later, so overall some very good handicapping. I wonder if I'd be making the same comment if I'd been spat out in the first 10 km...
don't underestimate the threat of a rider based on their number. They were still in the bunch, so must have been strong enough.
play to your strengths, regardless of the signifigance of the event
Winning may require a gamble.
Thanks to all the Hawks on the road and on the roadside.
Good luck tomorrow for all of our teams.