Wednesday, May 04, 2011

World Cup – Road Race

Today I raced my first UCI World Cup event – it was a ~75km road race with C4 & C5 para-cycling categories combined. Being held at the Eastern Creek Raceway and Western Sydney International Dragway circuit, (similar but not exactly the same as the circuit used last year for the World Masters Games) meant I had some home town knowledge of what I was in for since I have raced on both these venues.

What I didn’t know of course was how the competition would be. I knew one of our Aussie riders – Michael Gallagher – would be pretty hard for anyone to beat as he is a world class athlete but other than that, I wasn’t really sure of the field.

Conditions were good: cool, dry and sunny with a south to SW breeze. Sure made for a nice change with the rain we've had lately. I did 6 turbo session in the previous week.

In the end I came 4th in the C4 category, and my compatriot Ryan Hughes 3rd. Michael Gallagher came 2nd in the C5. That was perfect as the Aussie team plan was for Michael (C5) and Ryan (C4) to finish as high as possible and gain extra points for the world championship qualification places.

I had good legs today and some pretty decent numbers:
Ride time: 1:54
Normalised Power: 302W

When the race was pretty fiesty, I had a 30-minute NP of 327W.

The Italians dominated, and after the opening lap the fireworks started with plenty of attacks and counters. Eventually the break formed with 3 Italians, Michael Gallagher and 2 others. Since Mick was up the road we had no real reason to chase, next job was to get Ryan Hughes placed as high as possible, so helped him out here and there. My legs were good today – I sure felt pretty good.

I thought about going with the Italians early but they were very strong and it was a very tough place to be burning a big match. When the chase to the main break attempt was on, someone baulked as we were closing in and that didn’t help. Then a rider (the Canadian I think) crashed in front of me at the left hand turn entering the main raceway. That took all the momentum out of the chase. After that it was a training ride for next 4 laps, then in last 1.5-2 laps the group started getting frisky looking to get the minor placings.

I chased down one break by the British rider late in the race, and was about to do it again when the call was to let him go as he was C5. I certainly had the legs to go if needed.

Heading into the finale I was getting ready to go to front to give Ryan a lead out along with Mitchell Gourley from St Kilda, when the Italian for some reason let a gap go for Ryan and Mitch, and so they went for it with about 1.5km to go. I then just sat on the Austrian, Italian, and the American (Sam - of course! I said g’day during the race and asked his name) until the sprint as they were now chasing the Aussies. Fine by me.

Sam the American opened it up at top of straight, the Austrian was cooked and the Italian had nothing left or couldn’t be bothered (they were both on the front a lot today) so I went and eventually overhauled Sam down the long finishing straight, was catching Ryan and crossed line as 4th placed C4, and 8th overall.

Pretty darn happy with that. I’ve gone from having a lower leg amputation to a World Cup result in a bit less than 4 years.

Time Trial is on Friday. It’s technical and well I’ll just let ‘er rip and see what happens.