If you’re going to try, go all the way, otherwise don’t even start.
Stage 1: North Adelaide – Port Adelaide
Team director Tom Southam sat in a hotel room the first morning of the race. He scrolled through a power point, giving details to the team on the week to come. It marked the first race meeting of the entire season, and though it was only for the team here in Australia, it had the feeling of something much bigger. His message?
“You guys want to be bike racers, right? To do that, you’ve got to start making the outcomes you want. It’s a rough sport. It’s a hard sport. It’s going to hurt. There’s a big job in front of you. Be prepared to take it on.”
Stage 2: Norwood – Angaston
Some days, the team wants to be seen. Others, it just wants to be anonymous, stay out of danger, and get to the next one.
“The goal today was to make sure that there were no gaps. We were in such good position all day. It was a sick ride from the team. Mitch Docker placed me perfectly into the final sprint. All I had to do was follow around and look good.”
Stage 3: Lobethal – Uraidla
How about that rookie Jimmie Whelan? In only his second day of racing at the highest level, the kid rode into the breakaway and stayed out front to help his teammate Alberto Bettiol give it a go. Then Mike Woods attacked. There’s racing, and then there’s racing.
“This is Jimmy’s first WorldTour race, and he’s our neo-pro, our rookie here, yet he’s proving that he’s much more than that. He rode super-strong today. It was an impressive ride, and everyone else on the team stepped it up big time, too, like Alberto Bettiol bridging across.
We really tried to animate the race. We know that [race leader] Paddy Bevin’s super strong, and we need to race aggressively if we want to whittle away at his lead, and that was our plan today.
Stage 4: Unley – Campbelltown
Some days you’re the corkscrew, some days you’re the cork. On stage four Mike Woods was definitely the former, as he attacked on the much-anticipated Corkscrew climb, letting others feel the pain. After scaling the top of the climb with three riders for company, their job was to hold off the chasing peloton. Watching them race down the hair-raising descent into the finish in Campbelltown, left you with your heart in your mouth. Unfortunately the seconds ran out and the bunch succeeded in hunting them down.
“I’m really happy with how the team has ridden, and how my form is. I attacked when I thought it was necessary. We were going hard enough. Paddy was already sliding backwards. We didn’t have enough of a gap. They brought us back. I tried to get on Impey’s wheel but got swarmed. And that was my day”
Stage 5: Glenelg – Strathalbyn
If you live by the saying, ‘always expect the unexpected’, then you’ll do well in bike racing. What should have been a “straight forward” sprint day ended in chaos. There were crosswinds, the GC leader crashing with 7km to go, some teams waiting, some teams racing. Everyone has an opinion on the unspoken rules.
“It wasn’t a calm day!”
“We’d all had a pretty hard day in the wind before and it was nervous racing. Scud [Tom Scully] and Mitch did a great job putting me forward and I was suffering on the wheel a bit to be honest. You always expect the last two to three kilometers to be pretty hectic, but the race before that with the crosswinds just made it chaos.”
Stage 6: McLaren Vale – Willunga Hill
There’s a Bukowski quote our director, Tom Southam, read to the team in the morning meeting ahead of the final stage: “If you’re going to try, go all the way, otherwise don’t even start.”
Evidently each and every rider took it on board. From Dan McLay with his monster effort helping bring the break back, to Jimmy Whelan helping position Woods on Willunga, ahead of a flurry of attacks. The team’s last roll of the dice maintained its solidarity, as it had done all week, but it was still tinged with some disappointment. Willunga Hill for another year still remains Richie Porte’s realm.
“I didn’t come here to try and come fifth, I came here to try and win. I wasn’t going to be happy if I didn’t try to follow Richie’s attack and then came second. That’s not my style and that style ends up leaving you feeling a little more gutted at the end of races sometimes. That’s the disappointing part of racing to win. When you fail, you blow up big time. I don’t think seventh reflects how my team rode this week.”
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