Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tour of Mersey Valley - Team Race Report!

Held in Mersey Valley Tasmania, the first round of the Womens Nation Road Series was raced over challenging terrain in equally challenging conditions. 3 stages over 2 days compromising a Time Trial and 2 hilly Road Stages, the Women’s Total Rush team were looking forward to racing against Australia’s best.

Cosy accommodation on the Spirit of Tassie

The Stage 1 Time Trial was 15km of flat to undulating dead country roads, finishing with a nice little pinch just before the finish line that was guaranteed to finish you off and make you hurt. Suzuki/Trek rider Beck Wiasak took out the Stage with her usual impressive TT, with 2 of Total Rush’s team members not too far off the pace in the top 15. Thankfully the conditions stayed dry with only a small amount of wind, but that was soon to change!

After heading back to the Accomm for some food and recovery, it was quickly time to get kitted up again and head out to the start of the 2nd Stage. The drizzle had set in, and the temps were dropping, so the team were extremely grateful to have just taken delivery of leg and arm warmers and some stylish rain jackets from Specialized which kept them warm and dry on the 15k ride out to the start!

The warm gear was quickly ditched for the 58km race from Forth to Moina, which finished with a 5.1km climb which averaged 8.3%, with the final couple of kms averaging up to 10%! Some steep pinches only 10km in to the race split things up, however most of the bunch regrouped on the road following. Unfortunately TR rider Carly Williams had some bad luck and punctured only 20km in to the race and was missed by the spares car, resulting in her not being able to complete the stage. Leading in to the final climb was a twisty, technical descent, and the pace was on during the climb to get there first. Amy and Tanya made the front bunch, and hurtled down the descent knowing it could make or break the race for them. Hitting top speeds of almost 80kph and tackling hairpin bends, we were thankful that we were on our rock solid Specialized Amiras which handle like a dream.

The race exploded on the climb, and Holden Cycling’s Miranda Griffiths showed she’s the climber to beat this year taking an impressive win ahead of Lisa Jacobs. Amy held on for 5th Elite about 90 seconds down and moved in to 5th on GC. The rest of the team finished strongly and were looking forward to the next day!

Finishing the tough climb. Yep, 10%.. ouch.
More rest, more food, and staying rugged up was on schedule for the evening before heading off the next morning to Stage 3 which was starting and finishing in Sheffield – known as the city of Murals. The rain from the previous day was still hanging around and the temps were quite chilly again. Stage 3 was a 92km Road Race incorporating 2 laps of a tough hilly circuit in the middle and finishing with a 5k climb followed by 5k of undulating roads. The first time up the QOM a selection was made with Amy making the front split of 12 riders. Half way around the loop an attack came from U19 rider Ellen Skerritt, which Amy decided to try to bridge to not long after. Not quite making it, she rejoined the group behind to recover for another trip up the steep QOM climb. Not long over the top of this climb Ellen was reeled in, and the front bunch was down to 11 riders. The group worked well together and put more time in to the chasers, until the final climb of the day when Miranda Griffiths attacked trying to gain some time on GC leader Lisa Jacobs. Lisa managed to go with her, and they rode away to take 1 / 2 on the day and on GC. Amy stayed with the lead bunch in to the finish and managed to place 3rd elite across the line. This meant the team had managed to secure 3rd on GC! A great result given it was their first NRS race together.

The final selection on the last stage.
 A big thanks to Bec Domange who was our Team Manager/Swanny for the weekend, Total Rush for getting our Amira’s running smoothly, and of course thanks to Specialized for the great winter gear which made the weekend’s weather bearable!

Next up for the team is NRS #2 – Battle on the Border, starting May 5 near Tweed Heads in NSW. Carly, Amy & Liz will be making the trip and are hoping for some slightly better weather conditions!

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