2014 Go Sport Cycling Criterium

Report by Chris Sellar

Arrived to find everyone nice and relaxed, it was hot (7.45am race start became 8am ish).There was a short briefing during which A racers were told not to interfere with the B race, some of them were going to sit on the back of the pack. Stuey and Piers were stood near the front of the briefing (smart), Jimmy and I at the back (not smart) with Glen just in front of me. The gun went and the group took off at a rate of knots (40kph +). I sprinted hard from the back bridged over and pulled into the top ten next to Piers.
First lap was fast and furious but it soon settled down on lap 2. I basically stayed in the top 5 and went after anything that had more than 3-4 guys in it. The rest of the time I freewheeled or span easy, managed to get the HR down to 150bpm at one point (75%). Average speed was 37kph. The hooter went at the end of Lap 2 signifying the sprint was on at the end of Lap 3. Coming round the top bend by Al Khail Rd, Glen, Piers and Stuey moved into position. I decided to sit on Stuey’s wheel so no one else could. As the sprint line neared Glen rolled off and Piers took it on, I started to ease up and decelerate thinking I would slow those behind and leave Stuey untouched. That didn’t work, the group washed round me like a wave in full pursuit of Piers and Stuey. Stuey took up the sprint down the left and one other guy took it up down the right. The game was up, Stuey was beaten and I began to think, “Shit, we’re not going to have this all our own way at all”. The second thing that occurred to me as we took the left hander for Lap 4 was the plan. Suddenly I was reminded that we should attack after 500m and I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for 3 laps of pain in a chain gang.
Suddenly one of the A racers who were not supposed to be interfering attacked down the left, instinctively I went after him doing 50kph. Marshie was right next to me. This guy sat up after 100m and we sailed past, still doing 45kph. I looked at Marshie and asked “Where is everyone?”, he said, “It’s you and me mate”. I looked back and 4-5 disorderly guys were 50m behind trying to get over. I said, “What shall we do, wait for Jimmy or go?” Marshie immediately said, “Keep going”. We worked 1 min on, 1 min off at 39-42kph down the back straight and the gap widened to 200m with a second group of ~10 forming in pursuit, the main group 100m behind them. I shouted to Marshie that we need to hold 39kph because the group was averaging 37kph and then we’ve got it. Easier said than done. Down the finishing straight Marshie told me he was done and was heading back. The field had come together behind us and was 200-300m behind. I put my head down with no expectations of staying away, HR was 180bpm and holding. I just thought, “I’ll see if I can make it through one lap”. Through the cricket pitch I could see the group was together at 300-400m back. I was making 42kph with the wind behind through the cricket pitch section, then 37-38kph on the back straight and 32-33kph round the top by the Al Khail Rd and 35-36kph again down the finish straight into a slight headwind/crosswind. I thought, “That is nowhere near enough”. I made it through Lap 5 as the hooter went, Benny was pumping the air with his fist and I was shitting myself, then I noticed three guys in pursuit, they were coming over at a crazy rate. I sat up as they got to me because the game was clearly up, I neatly tagged on the back and the last guy waved his hand at me and said, “We’re not in the race”. Then they took off at 40kph +. Must’ve been the A racers proving a point I guessed. Anyway, I couldn’t believe it was back on again! I looked back, the group was still at 300-400m through the cricket pitches. I buried myself, HR now 185bpm, round the top bend and into the finish straight. I looked over my left shoulder again and again but no crazy group sprint came. I was halfway down the finish straight when they came round the corner. Then I knew I had it. I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t intend for it to work out that way. I was beaming when I came over the line, but still shitting it that there was another lap to come, because I had nothing left.
Piers took the group sprint in style and lifted me off my feet as Glen, Marshie and Stuey came in. Jimmy followed a little later. My legs and hands were shaking. Amazing race. If you look at my Garmin Connect page you’ll see what a race of two halves it was, three laps erratic in the group and three laps off the front at 180bpm + HR and uniform lapping, TT’ing for my life.
This weekend has been amazing for me and I just want to tell you again that there is so much depth of quality in T2A at the moment, everyone is a legend, everyone is there for each other. I thanked everyone of those lads and there’s no other group I would want to ride with or for.