Canberra Tour 2011

A solid squad of MWCC riders headed out to Canberra Tour on the weekend. The club was well represented across the grades with riders keen to make an impression at what is considered one of the toughest races in NSW.

Photo: Greg Tompos

Mens B Grade

stage 1. RR. 116km of continuous hills
The plan was for Danny or Ryno to be present in dangerous early to mid race moves, and or chase such moves if missed. Myself to shelter and conserve but be sure to be in any major splits. Opportunities to get to work came thick and fast from the gun, Danny set to work with immediate effect in a number of early attacks, Ryno working hard in the bunch, closing down large splits and maintaining good presence at the front.

The pace was relentless and by the 1/4 way mark the peleton looked to be half the original size. Ryno had a hard time up some of the steeper hills but dug in on the flats to make sure he was still with the main bunch coming into the second half of the race. Still the pace was high and attacks continuous, there was a lack of organisation at the front and a real danger that some riders off the front could take some big time. Time to unleash the Danny – 30kms later of hard riding at the front put paid to the chances of another 1/4 of the original peleton (including Ryno). Danny was spent but the main selection had been made and a group of approx 20 was left to chase the lone leader up and down the 25km hilly run in to the finish. I was still in the mix, and feeling confident, some small twinges of cramp but manageable, the official race distance of 109km came and went, the finish curcuit came into site, one last big surge of speed and bang, the story of my season so far, serious quad cramps. OK, no sprint but still with the front group and only lost time to one guy. Ryno and Danny came in with the grupetto happy to save energy for the next day. A tough morning for all, solid efforts all round – thoughts now turn to the afternoons TT.

stage 2. 20km TT
This has to be one of the toughest aspects of short stage races. Backing up for an afternoon TT after a solid morning. What can be said? 20km of pain and suffering for me. 20km of recovery for Ryno and Danny – thanks for the shouts of encouragement boys.
I picked up 6th, this put me into 7th on GC.

The plan was now falling into place. Top 10 in GC, off the radar of the top contenders, primed to move into top 5 with Ryno and Danny both with fresh legs after a leisurely TT.

Day 2. Stage 3. 130 ridiculously hilly km’s
Stage races are all about recovery. Seeing the riders roll out on Sunday morning it was clear there were a lot of sore legs, this did not however deter those who felt good, to once again go on the attack from the gun! The MWCC plan was similar to day 1, have a presence in early moves and chase dangerous moves if missed. Myself to conserve and be there at the end.
Danny didnt drop from the first 5 or 6 riders for the first half of the stage, ever present and keeping a close eye on proceedings. Ryno looked better than day 1, moving with ease from mid pack where I was hiding, and back up to the front until disaster struck – Ryno’s hand went up in the air, puncture, we hoped for a quick change and chase but the roads proved to be too hard and the bunch moving too fast, Ryno’s race was over and just Danny and I left. (there has since been wild speculation on web blogs and twitter etc that Ryno is trialling a prototype Di3 with a 3rd button that triggers mechanical failure – watch this space).

My legs felt horrible from the first climb and the 65km turn couldn’t come soon enough, the cramp from day one was coming back to bite. A steady stream of riders were being dropped along the course and all the climbs on the return leg were hit at pace, the Waki team from Hunter Valley drove the pace for their team leader and everyone new Mt Mcdonald was the crunch at about 30km from the finish. the pace picked up coming into Mcdonald and I made sure i was near the front, Danny was still by my side but had to attend to an urgent call of nature – it was every man for himself up the climb but my legs seemed to be coming good, I made it into the race leading selection of about 10 riders over the top of the climb. This was great, one climb to go and thoughts of a sprint from this group had me thinking of top 5 o/all. One of the strong guys attacked soon after (he went on to win the stage in a classic attack at the KOM sign). the pace eased off a touch as the group tried to figure who would chase, cue the return of Danny, he had buried himself up the climb and regained contact with the front group. One more climb to go and and then rolling roads to the finish – it proved one too many, serious cramp again, I was ready to throw myself in the ditch as the legs locked up when i heard Danny behind me, he saw the problem and gave me a push, enough to take the pressure off the muscles, but the lead group had gone and we were alone – it became survival, Danny towed me for a few K’s until i recovered and then I pushed on alone to the finish, 3 mins down on the lead group and back to 15th o/all. Danny rolled in a few minutes later.

We felt like we’d been in a war, both totally wrecked – but LOVED it!

C grade & M456 report.

stage 1 55km Road race
MWCC riders Andy Bateman and Jacob Kauffman both rode C grade. The short, sharp day 1 RR was always going to be intense and proved to be the case. Andy found himself at the wrong end of a splintering peleton but completed the stage with a good working group to fight another day. Jacob meanwhile was busy destroying the race and came in with a 3rd place setting him up nicely for a tilt at GC honours.

Paul Mandle also rode impressively in the masters 4/5/6 to take a top 10.

stage 2 20km TT
Jacob proved that his strong ride in the morning was no fluke and smashed the TT to take the C grade win. Andy punched out a solid 12th place on his new TT bike complete with Elvis ear fairings (this has to be seen to be believed).

Paul Mandle rode a solid TT to get on the podium in M456 and set himself up nicely for a crack at a top GC placing

stage 3 80km RR
The day of reckoning and no one was able to dislodge Jacob, he came home in the front group of 5 to take the o/all win by over a minute. Great ride – I think we’ll be seeing more of this guy.

Paul Mandle also backed up extremely well to finish in the front group in M456 to put himself into 3rd place on GC.

A great weekend was had by all. Fantastic to see guys racing across the grades, even better to see MWCC riders winning and getting onto the podium!
Big thanks to Ryno and Danny for the hard teamwork they put in, and of course ‘The fixed wheel ‘ for race support.

See you all on the road when the legs recover

Alex Gardner

Canberra Tour 2011 – Ed Gralton

I always try to do the Canberra Tour as it’s my local race. It’s such a tough weekend of racing –damn hard terrain to race a bike and nowhere to rest. I came 13th in Masters 1,2,3 – I think there was about 30 guys who started. Our grade was a lot smaller than the other grades which was good because it was safer but bad because fewer guys to close the gaps. There were two definite levels in our grade. After working in Adelaide over the last couple of months and having limited training I went in very underdone and a little overweight.

Saturday morning was a 55 km loop – the bunch split on the serious climb going up to the turn around at Picadilly Circus. I was with about 10 others about 30 secs behind. We didn’t get back on. To be honest people weren’t driving hard enough on the return – we were pushing 50km/h on the flat coming into Uriarra where we should have been doing 55km/h. In the end we came in about 4mins down on GC.

Saturday afternoon was a 20 km TT. Up and down a hilly course and it took me just under 33 mins. Average heart rate 167 bpm for the duration and legs spinning fast at 95 rpm but still could only do an average speed of 36 km/h. I only got passed by guys on TT bikes. I caught a few guys on standard bikes with clip on bars.

Action photo of me driving the chasers on Sunday

Yesterday was tough – 130 km. down to Tharwa and back. Came in 11th – I led home the gruppetto. The bunch split on that steep climb out of the Cotter on the way out. There were about ten of us and we worked well rolling turns. The front guys had about 2 mins on us at the turnaround. We got to within sight of the spares car behind the front guys but then the kick went out of our chase on that little steep climb on the way back up north past the Point Hut Crossing road. Everyone was pretty quiet for the last 40 kms just wanting to finish. We got home in 3hrs 51 mins – about 10 mins after the lead group. I pulled the bunch up the last climb and then when we came into the finish told a few guys that hadn’t done any work up the climb that sprinting wasn’t allowed. Very Fabian of me but I wasn’t going to let some plonker beat me. A few guys patted me on the back afterwards and said good job. A grade did the 130 km in 3 hours 11 mins! Impressive for such tough terrain. Claire was great and passed me bottles and food in a mussette bag at the feedstation – very slick.

Body aches and my fingers too sore to type anymore.



  1. Clipper

    Great report Al, I can feel the pain and can understand the feeling of exhiliration at the finish when you have left it all on the road. Sounds like Danny is coming on strong. Nice to hear that you are still enjoying it. Pa xx

  2. Turramurra Plonker

    Wow, great report. Funny how lactic acid plays with people’s memory! It was a great weekend though. Well ridden.

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