Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Giant’s Perspective: Tour of Bright Blog

A small notification: I wish to inform you, reader, that I will not be writing this particular blog post. Instead (running the risk of seeming like a complete idiot) I’ve allowed a guest blogger to write about the happenings of the recent Tour of Bright and that guess blogger is no other than my bike. Oh yes you read correctly and no it was not a ill placed typo. I am being serious. I figured there are far to many race reports/blogs from the riders point of view, and they often become repetitive and boring. So why not see the race from a new perspective? And what better perspective than the perspective from the machines we ride and race on. It is his first blog post, so be kind.


1. He is Giant TCR Advanced SL 1
2. He is very young (Tour of Bright was his first ever ride/race)
3. Will only have Shimano components, as they look and feel the best on him.
4. Holds the strong belief that red bikes do not go faster than others, for he is black and rides quite fast, thank you very much.
5. Has a two brothers, one went off to be sold at a bike store and the other turned Pro becoming a team bike for Rabobank.

I now leave it to him:

The First Ride

It was overwhelming, that wait. After all the preparation, building and fiddling that encompassed my creation, it finally was time. Time to meet my owner. What was he going to be like? Big, small, skinny? I couldn’t help but wonder. It was late afternoon, the sun was beginning its slow decent behind the hills and I sat patiently on the bike stand in the town of Bright, Victoria. As he arrived anticipation filled my carbon body and if I had a heart I am certain it would have been beating million miles an hour. Most of the other Drapac Professional Cycling riders and their bikes had been united, they were mostly all kited up and ready for a ride. My owner (by now I had figured out his name was Adam) quickly went around shaking hands and saying hello the rest of the team. Hurry up! I thought. All I wanted to do was get out on the road. Go for my first ride.

A few mintues later, Adam came from one of the rooms, now wearing the new Drapac kit. He looked down at himself and the new kit, I could tell (as it was written all over his face) he was not used to seeing the red below him. Like me, he was a new addition to the Drapac Cycling Team, and this too would be his first race with the team. I think he was almost more excited then me, and that’s saying something. Scanning the labels of names on the other bikes he finally spotted me, the “Phelan A” and Australian flag stickers on my body standing out in the lowering sun. Smiling he picked me up, and looking across to the team mechanic he spoke “Shit it’s light!”. Yes, I thought, of course I’m light. Hoping on, we rode out of the accommodation and onto the smooth road, finally I was on my first ride. Giant Australia drove along next to us for the ride, a camera in hand they took pictures of me, the other bikes and their riders; I remember exactly how a felt that ride: like a movie star. What better first ride could you get too? There was no rain, no wind, and I didn’t even get dirty. After the short ride, the humans went to dinner. When they returned I could tell my owner was enjoying the dynamic of the team, the people, the staff and of course most importantly (if I don’t say so myself) the bikes. Tomorrow would be my first race. Tour of Bright Stage One. I couldn’t wait!

Stage One- Tour of Bright

The excitement of the day before, I must admit, was dulled down considerably when the morning greeted us with torrential rain. The rain was heavy, thick and it didn’t seem as though it was going anywhere quick. So I then came to the simple realisation: I’m going to have to get wet today. It would seem I was quite wrong with this realisation however when moments before heading out the start the black clouds above broke ranks separating and dispersing, clearing away to reveal the clear blue sky underneath. How a day can change so suddenly. My self, my owner and the rest of the team then road to the start line, how good it was not to get wet.

Stage One began fast. The attacks came as soon the the flag from the neutral car finally waved down, and with those attacks came counter attacks and even more attacks after that. A few splits were gained, but nothing was seeming to be able to stay. My owner pushed hard the pedals and I responded quickly, following every order his legs gave me. We made a number of the early failed attempts of the EB (Early Break), but it wasn’t until around 40km into the race did the break finally manage to establish itself. Around 11 or 12 riders and their bikes made the breakaway group and 6 of those would be Giant’s and their owners from Drapac. It was a good position to be in. The break worked well together and soon the gap grew to several minutes, this was going to be the winning group- there was no question about that. The penultimate climb saw the first move that would spilt up the breakaway. Lachlan Norris, MTBer and full time stomper, attacked. Stuart Smith was quick to follow and myself, Adam, and Adiq on his bike latched on to Stu’s wheel joining Norris out in front. There was now four of us ahead. Not long after, Joe Lewis, bridged the gap making it five riders ahead of the remains of the break.

On the descent a few things occured:

1. Adiq got a flat tyre. Leaving four of us out the front.
2. Several attacks
3. Two got away, Joe Lewis and my owner, both wearing red.

Approaching the final climb to the finish, Tawonga Gap, it was just the two bikes and two riders out the front with a small, yet significant gap on other two. The road then went up. It then stubbornly continued to do so for quite a while. Joe was looking strong and going much better than my owner on the climb, I could tell. Joe was pedalling smooth and strong, Adam however, began to swing me around haphazardly, jumping in out of the seat every few moments. There was still a few kilometres till the top. My owner began to fade. Joe, after yelling at us to keep up, soon realised we were smashed and continued to ride strong riding away to what would be the stage win, and the yellow Jersey. With 500 metres to go, Adam looked back and saw them come by, at a much quicker speed then he was going. Stu Smith and Lachlan Norris flew past gaining 30 seconds on us as we finally crossed the line in 4th. The first stage was then complete. Drapac finishing 1st, 3rd and 4th. However, the day and more importantly the racing was not over.

photo by jxpphotography

Stage Two: Time Trial (a rest for me)

Thankfully for me, I was allowed to rest for the afternoon and allow the Giant Trinity to take over. My owner was not allowed that comfort however as the afternoon saw Stage Two take place. The Time Trial. Unfortunately I was not there, however I heard my owner taking about it later that night... For you, I'll keep it simple. He and the Giant Trinity rode from the accommodation, to the start. Once there he discovered he had 5 or so minutes till he was go off. Not the most ideal warm up for a TT, but thankfully he was still fairly warm and race ready from the morning stage. He started, he raced, he finished. Coming across the line, he was the second fastest time by 0.7sec for A Grade. It stayed that way. His legs hurt.

photo by jxpphotography

The Time Trial also saw a change in GC. It now looked like this:

1st: Joe Lewis
2nd: Adam Phelan
3rd: Lachlan Norris

Drapac 1, 2, 3. The only thing left now: Hotham.

Stage Three: Mount Hotham

The third and final stage is all about one thing. Mount Hotham. The climb has become the main 'attraction' of the Tour of Bright. It really is what makes the tour what it is. No matter what grade, or what bike, everyone seems to love the achievement of getting to the top of that impressive 'berg'. For me and my owner, we not only had to get to the top, if we wanted to stay where we were on GC, we would have to finish near top end of the riders. The night before I was washed, cleaned, degreased and oiled by the team mechanics in preparation. I was excited, Adam was tired. It was time to race.

The race started and immediately the Drapac riders moved the front and took control, lead by team captain- Stuart Shaw. A break went of up the road, with non GC contending riders, and two Drapac riders. One of them being my owners twin brother- Michael Phelan. Being in the break in stage one and taking out that sprint, Michael was in prime postion to take out the Sprinting Ace Jersey for the tour. In winning the final sprint in that breakaway, he sealed that win for Drapac. Back to myself and Adam, we sat at the end of the Drapac train that was still lead by Stu Shaw along the road, edging closer to Mount Hotham.

Then the climb started. It doesn't wait to get steep either. It starts good and proper, straight away. Drapac still rode the front, and we were still tucked behind them. Joe, Lachy and Adam all near the front. Then the Meg approached. Ben Dyball attacked, a gap formed and we followed. It came back together and our red team mates came back to the front. Setting the tempo. The bunch was slowly getting smaller as the different Drapac riders took turns up the climb. It was only a matter of time till things started to break up.

It was Dyball again who attacked. He gained a gap and it was then Pat Lane and Lachlan Norris that went. Dyball was in front, Lane and Norris was now in between him and a small group that contained Joe, myself and Adam and Stu Smith who sat in 4th postion on GC. Joe then attacked the group and bridged to the other two riders that were still dangling behind Dyball. My owner went to go with Joe, I responded with him. We still weren't quite on his wheel. Looking back Stu Smith was coming. We eased off and dropped behind Stu, deciding to wait till later to attack.

It was with about 3km to go that my owner noticed it: Stu was hurting. He attacked and I keep smooth for him. We gapped the small group we were with and ahead we saw the other three riders that were still behind Dyball who was leading the way. At the top it stayed that way. Dyball won, with Lane, Norris and Lewis finishing together just behind him. I came in after them in 5th, with Adam puffing heavily above me. Finishing 4th, Joe won the tour with a soild gap and Lachy finishing 2nd on GC. Myself and my rider, Adam, completed the podium for GC.

photo by jxpphotography

The tour was then complete. And a good tour it was for the boys in red and their Giant bikes. 1st, 2nd, 3rd on GC. Sprinters Jersey and Joe even managed to win the KOM jersey too. Not to mention the stage win, and several top three placings in the stages. All round it was a fun and successful first race for me and my owner and I can't wait for the year ahead.

Until next time,
Adam's Giant.

A note from Adam: Thanks heaps to all the Drapac Boys for that weekend! Also to Sarah, Jono, Ago and Craig thanks a lot all your work is greatly appreciated! Looking forward to the year with you guys.

No it is not common practice of mine to write blogs from perpectives from inanimate objects and yes I realise my bike does not really have feelings.