The Queen's Birthday Weekend means one thing in the cycling world, club 3day tour time. Apollo has fairly deep roots in Gippsland with four riders and our team manager hailing from the area. Three of these riders were joined by a couple of the city slickers to form a five man squad at the Gippsland 3day Tour for some quality racing k's.
Stage 1 was a 6km, predominantly uphill, time trial. For those with GC (general classification) hopes these were a very painful 6kms. For those not hunting GC honours these can be a bit of fun. John fell into the 'bit of fun' category sporting a ridiculously 'aero' body suit. He could barely breath through it but at least he felt fast. Kane and Sam were Apollo's GC men for the weekend and didn't do these hopes any harm.
John getting 'aero' in the warm up
Stage 2 was four laps of a 25km circuit that basically went up for 17km then down for 8km. After a few attempts Chris was joined by two others to form the days breakaway. He won all the intermediate sprints before losing contact with the other two riders the last time up the climb. He was eventually swallowed up by the peleton, scoring third in the bunch kick to take fifth on the stage and some more sprint points. Kane and Sam finished safely in the peleton doing their GC positions no harm.
Chris winning one of the intermediate sprints
Stage 3 was five laps of a 17km circuit. Only a handful of seconds separated the top riders and they took turns attacking each other. The surges of pace by these guys had the bunch scampering to hold the wheel in front and swallowed up any breakaway attempts on the undulating circuit. With one lap to go Sam attacked and only two riders could go with him to form a break of three. Fittingly these three would go on to form the final GC top three. Unfortunately Sam suffered a puncture, lost contact, and had to be content with third on the stage.
Sam finishes third after puncturing out of the winning breakaway
Stage 4 was slightly confusing for all. Rolling through the first few kilometres no one was sure how many laps of what distance we were doing. The closest we came to a verdict was that it was to total somewhere between 72-77km's. One thing was certain, it wasn't going to be a formality. First Trent, then Chris, then John took turns attacking while Sam marked his GC rivals determined to protect or improve his GC ranking of third. Finally John got away in a group of two and was joined by Trent not long after.
John and Trent on the attack
Another two riders bridged and the group of five worked well to stay away through multiple KOMs before being caught at the 50km mark. It was deja vu as Chris and John took turns attacking again in search of the stage win. John got away again, this time solo, and spent another 15km's off the front scoring some more KOM points. The flat 10km stretch to the finish proved too much by himself though and he was caught with 5km to go. Chris was quick to counter though and opened a small gap with another rider in tow. This held to the finish and Chris was able to out kick his breakaway buddy for the final stage glory.
Chris wins Stage 4 (and with it secures the sprint jersey)
A solid weekend of racing in the legs...along with a stage win, the sprint jersey and 3rd, 6th and 10th on GC. Sidenote: Kane realised he had a university exam on the Monday and didn't start Stage 4 (he may have had the flu as well). Hope you passed Kane!