Dam, that was a hard tour!
A number of Brunswick juniors backed up a weekend in Canberra with the final Victorian Junior Tour before the State Champs – the Eildon Junior Tour – this year also including a Women’s Tour as part of the weekend.
The Eildon Junior Tour has fast become the preeminent junior tour on the Victorian calendar. Wether the parcours, complete with the dramatic finish on the dam wall; or the efficient way in which it’s run, the tour is a very definitely favourite amongst local riders and the 2012 edition didn’t disappoint.
Brunswick had eight riders taking part – seven juniors and Emma Pane competing in the elite women’s category. The weather was overcast and most competitors experienced some shower action – there was certainly a lot of rainbow action!
A long and flat ITT kicked things off. Not much breeze to speak of, but dead roads and damp atmosphere made for a test of strength.
Sarah Gigante, fresh from being crowned the Canberra Junior Tour JG13 Champion, started proceedings and either won by 8-seconds or lost by 2-seconds… the decision went against her (despite some doubt) and Sarah chocked up good points for second in a time of 6.32.5 over a 4km course.
Ruby Roseman Gannon, like Sarah one of the new Queens of Canberra, and Emily Dunk were Brunswick’s JW15 riders. Both girls had been part of a tough training camp up at Eildon on the four-days prior so they knew the roads and had some k’s in the legs! Ruby smashed the 12km ITT (the longest they’ll do as under-15s) in a time of 18.59.0 making for an average speed of over 37kmph to win comfortably. Emily also rode strongly (and without an aero helmet!) to take a good third.
In the JM15s, the two R’s flew the club colours. Like Ruby and Emily, Ryan had done the training camp, while Riley was fresh off Canberra. Riley was on the road first and posted a time that stood for sometime with a 19.12.7 – clearly his best TT for the season as he caught his 30-second man and almost his minute-man and posted the fastest first-year time (5th overall). The leading second-years soon lowered his mark and Ryan posted a time of 18.39.7, which was good enough for third.
In the JM17A’s James Pane was joined by Shepparton B-grade winner and come-back kid, Liam Hood. Apart from the TT, the course seemed suited to James – especially the final stage that took in the 6km climb up Skyline… more on that later… but for the TT, James set a time of 17.30.4 (11th) while Liam posted a 18.33.3 (20th).
In the elite women, Emma Pane managed a 21.13.2 to take 7th place in a very competitive field.
Saturday afternoon meant stage 2 road race time, so after an early lunch or late brekky, the crew were back on their bikes for the stage featuring the marquee Dam Wall finish.
For Sarah, that meant, the longest stage she’d ever ridden (at least until Sunday!) and a 25km stage finishing atop the dam; never mind that 12 of those kilometres were ‘under control’, the girls still had to ride them! Sarah rode very well, and following some mentoring from Ruby, cut back her time setting the pace on the front of JG13 road races from 50%+ to just her share, and had enough left to take another strong second-place.
Ruby took control of the 25km afternoon race and made light of the dam wall climb to make it two-from-two, while Emily equalled her morning performance for her second consecutive third place finish.
In the boys, it was a 50km road race – the longest race, by some way, that either boy had done this year – two-laps around the ‘pond’ followed by the kicker to the top of the dam. All the protagonists were together after the first lap and even a steady second lap could only shake a few loose. The sprint started for real up the steep bit of the dam climb as the top boys finished strung out in single-file. Ryan snared second with Riley finishing a spent ninth.
The 17A race had some fireworks early with a bit of argy-bargy between club mates – not a good look! Thankfully it wasn’t the two Brunswick boys, and James was always in the mix, going in a couple of breaks before finishing fourth in a seven up sprint for the win. Liam found the going tough, but wasn’t the only one as the pace was vicious from the gun.
Emma scored her best result of the tour with a strong fifth in the women’s 50km road race.
After racing the rain really set in, with rainbows galore and time for the all to rest up for Sunday’s Queen Stage up the feared Skyline…
Thankfully, by the morning the rain had stopped and the temperature hit mid-single-figures. Sarah kicked off proceedings with another loop of the ‘pond’, this time with a flat lakeside finish. She again showed her race craft to take her third podium and wrap up second overall. A successful weekend indeed.
Ruby and Emily also repeated the ‘pond’ loop and with no real climb to test them it came down to a sprint with SA-bound Ashleigh Hocking taking the win by the narrowest of margins. Ruby’s second-place secured the GC with Emily snaring a hat trick of podiums to take third overall.
There was a bit of a hiccup for Riley in the JM15A boys after thinking that his race started at 11am, he arrived a 9.55 for warm-up to discover his race started at 10am! A download of the 2011 program was to blame and this wasn’t the stage you wanted to miss your warm-up as the peloton tackled the 6km @ 8% ascent of Skyline from kilometre two! Sure enough the lactic hit as the attacks started. Ryan crossed the top in the leading group of five, while Riley was around a minute back in the second chase group. Once over the top it was a long way down and then a flat run into the finish. The leaders extended their gap and fought out an exciting finish with Ryan sprinting to the win ahead of Tom MacFarlane. This win moved Ryan up to second-place on GC and also into the top-three in the overall junior aggregate. Riley never really recovered from the previous day’s efforts and his rushed start and rolled in tenth.
He wasn’t the only first-year to struggle with others not starting after the big first day and more abandoning during the stage. Not sure first-year 15s should be asked to do their longest TT (12km), followed by their longest road race (52km) on day one, followed by their hardest road stage (48km) the next day; especially when their next longest race is circa 35kms. Something for the organiser to consider perhaps?
The JM17A’s also had to tackle Skyline, but after softening the legs with a lap of the ‘pond’ first. James was looking forward to the climb and crested with four others. This group opened up a gap of over four-minutes on the peloton and fought out the finish with James taking a fine fourth to finish seventh overall. Liam finished in a trailing bunch and while he didn’t score any points, I think he enjoyed racing back with the A-graders.
Emma again fought hard to finish eighth on the stage and sixth overall; a great result for her first big tour! She definitely showed there’s more to come if she continues to race these types of events.
Well, a couple of weeks off then for most it’s off to the State Champs at Wangaratta. Good luck to all for this important event.