By Glen Marriot.
There is an old saying in bicycle racing, that if you are making friends, you’re doing it wrong. By this reckoning, the Team Blue Drouin “Performance” team should be the most popular cyclists in town.
Race 1 of the two week team challenge kicked off on the Cloverlea circuit on Saturday. As with all teams’ races, there was a lot of bragging rights at stake and with a relatively even spread of quality cyclists between the 3 teams blue, red and green this was shaping up to be nothing less than a hard fought even contest.
There was a staggered start with Edward and Donna (team green), Michelle (team blue), Annie and Robyn (team red) getting a 6 minute start on Col Manitveld (team blue), who had a 4 minute head start on the rest of the riders.
Teams red and green were headed up by the young guns, Connor Bagot and Ben Patrick, and when these two headed up the road together on lap one, everyone was pretty happy to let the ride away. Why Team blue were happy with this will forever remain a mystery as it was clearly not in their best interest to let it happen and the fact that they were so content with it was a surprise to all. Clearly, they had full faith in their “man up the road” Colin Manintveld, and yet when Col was reeled in on Lap 2, Team’s blue’s tactics were completely in disarray. A few of the team green and red cyclists were “kind” enough to offer team blue some helpful tactical advice mid race, but despite their best efforts to be of assistance it clearly fell on deaf ears as team blue seemed hell bent on making friends and securing last place.
While Connor and Patrick dueled it out up the road, there was plenty of action in the chasing peloton, with Marriott launching plenty of spritely attacks only to be chased down on every occasion. Team mate George Tambassis aka “the sleek Greek” was savvy enough to capitalise on one of these attacks, and countering with one of his own that was successful in securing a break, taking Nash (team green) and Masters Club Crit Champ and tactical mastermind Peter MacDonald with him. Despite securing at least one rider in this break, team blue were effectively no better off. And yet, again despite this being verbally brought to their attention, team blue acted as though everything was under control, not contributing to attempted breakaways and not really trying to get anyone up the road. At one stage team blue even attacked one another down Parkers road, much to the amusement of team green and red, was there no end to their tactical ineptitude?
The outmarkers were caught by the peloton on the last lap, so the critical points were now to come down to how things fared between, young Bagot and Patrick. As it turns out Bagot road away from Patrick on Lap 3 and soloed to take a strong victory for team red. Patrick was caught by the Tambassis led pursuants on lap three. With greater experience Team green members Patrick and Nash would have capitalised on their numerical advantage in this instance, each taking turns to attack the outnumbered team blue and red riders Peter Mac and Tambassis. But alas no, they towed the inform sprinter Tambassis to line who showed them a clean pair heels and secured places 1 and 2 for team red.
With the chasing peloton coming down the Parkers road straight for the last time, surely now would have been the perfect time for team blue to launch a series of well-timed attacks and counter attacks in a last ditch effort to get greater numbers up the road. Surprisingly, or not, depending upon how you look at it, Team blue elected to try none of these tactics, but instead had Mason do a huge turn, dragging the rest of the smiling bunch along with him. Rounding the final corner, Jayman Prestidge (Team red) made his first real contribution to the race, (other than putting out the signs, thanks for that) and made a strong break with only Parker and Monk (team green) and Marriott able to go with him. Parker was too strong overtaking JP close to the line, followed by a fast finishing Monk and a cramping Marriott. While not securing the bunch sprint as planned, team red had done enough points to secure a strong team victory followed closely by team green, with day light unsurprisingly to ever popular team blue.
Next week’s teams race is again at Cloverlea with the Team Blue line-up expected to remain relatively unchanged. One can only hope they reassess their game plan or recruit heavily…