Long Final - long, hot and hilly - and a 9th in the junior mens for Tom!
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
By Steve Cusworth.
I´m sure the shattered bodys I watched
climbing the streets of Bassano del Grappa in the final of the MTB
WOC Long distance final today would agree with the murmorings of it
being the hardest long distance race in MTBO history to date!
Compiled by a virtaually compulsary route near the end of all courses
along the scenic river which involved riding on a track made entirely
of concrete slabs of various height and spacings. This caused around
30 of the junior and senior competitors to flat, drawing out the
remaining few minutes of their epic course. There were also many more
mechanicals with numerour derailleurs hanging limply from their
bikes, notably from two highly ranked senior men from other
The event took its toll eqaully on bike
and body with the peak temperature of the day rising above 40
degrees. This, together with the steep road climbs on all courses
caused many riders to suffer in the conditions. One of our juniors
Chris, although being from one of the hottest parts of Australia in
QLD, suffered badly from the heat and required medical assistance on
course and could not continue. Chris recorded a body temp of over 39
degrees. This shows how hard the Aussie riders were pushing today. He
is fine now, back in the accom after a few litres of water was pumped
intravenously into his arm, ready to attack the middle distance in a
couple of days. Many thanks went out to the local medical team who
got our rider back well and safely. Also notably Chris´s bike got a
chariot ride back down the mountain in the back of an ambulance, goes
to show how much Italians love there bikes!
The tough conditions proved to benifit
the other Aussies, with the higlight of the team being first year
junior from Tassie Tom, flying into the finish much earlier then our
predictions, finishing in an awesome 9th place. A great
effort from a rider that still has 2 more years left in juniors!
The other two juniors both made a few
mistakes, though still had strong results, with Oscar finsihing in
22nd and Marc in 29th. It will be interesting
to see how the Juniors handle the more technical orienteering of the
Middle and Sprint. I´m sure they all have the potential, with clean
rides to be in the top 10, if not podium contenders.
A very notable performance came from
Alex, earning a very rewarding 20th place. As we all know
Alex had to take an unexpected lay off from riding a few months ago.
He produced a great effort to recapture some of his best form.
Mel had a strong ride in speed and
execution, though unforunately made a couple of mistakes on crucial
route choises and finishing in 26th. I´m sure she will be
keen to improve on this result during the rest of the week.
A well earned rest day tomorrow for the
Aussie team, begining with a long sleep in and a very large serving
of pancakes from master chef Lizzie.
For those who were wondering why I was
not riding today, I unfortuately snapped my rear derailleur in half
in the qualifiaction race the day yesterday. I tried to turn the bike
into a single speed though my inexperiance with single speed chain
lines ment for a slow repair and ultimatly too much time being lost.
I have sourced a new hanger, derailleur and cables and will be
competing in the remainign events. (Hopefully with a bit more power
in the legs then the riders who competed today).
The view from the old wooden bridge in Bassano del Grappa
Tom gained a place in the last 2 controls!