Stage 1: 5.7km ITT
Stage 2: Martinborough -Kahutara Circuit: 51km
Stage 3: Gladstone-Admirals Hill Rd: 37km
Stage 4: Martinborough Millars Rd Circuit: 46km (this was changed to an out and back from Martinborough to Millars rd and back due to the Joe Cocker concert: 61km)
The Wairarapa turned it on for us all, with challenging racing conditions for all stages. It wasn't too windy on Saturday morning for the TT but after lunch the wind picked up to make for a tough return trip to Martinborough after the southern loop - 35C temperatures added to the joy. The light drizzle on Sunday morning brought a welcome drop in the temperature but the sweat still streamed from the riders faces on the climb up Admirals. The afternoon stage saw a return of the wind which was cruel on the various breakaway attempts in most of the grades but gave us a super fast finishing sprint to wrap up the tour.
My tour had some ups and downs (and not just the hills... hehehe)... the TT was really tough as it was so short! I came in 4th out of the 8 women (ahead of Anja Dittmer- German ITU triathlete already qualified for the olympics and ahead of Susie Pryde- ex Commonwealth games gold medallist) so I was pleased with this effort.
Stage 2 was perhaps the fastest I have ever been on my bike in a bunch situation, the pace was on the whole way and I LOVED it... It was exhilarating. At one stage we were going 60kmh+ on the flat! This is my first real experience with road racing and it was cool. I am glad that I had cycled this course plenty of times in training so I pretty much anticipate when the bunch would try and make breaks so I could make sure that I didn't fall off the back of the group. This stage for me was about survival and safety. I just hung out in the front third of the group and stayed there the whole way round. I managed to pick up a 5 second time bonus at the end of this stage as well so kept my 4th place on grand classification (GC).
Stage 3 was always going to be a toughie as it finished with an 8 km climb up admirals hill which has a pretty mean reputation. I expected to fall behind the top girls up this climb as they are stronger cyclists than me and on top of that weigh about 10kg less than me so their power to weight ratios would be much better. My aim was just to climb strong up the hill. I was pleased with this stage and still felt strong at the end of it which was a good sign. The great thing is there is the ride down the hill and back to the Gladstone Hall after the finish so it meant that we all did a good cool down.
There wasn't much time between stages 3 and 4 so we drove back tio Martinborough school for the final stage. It was originally going to be a 46 km loop to and from Martinborough via Millars road. But due to the increased traffic due to the Joe Cocker concert the race organisers changed this to a 61km out and back course. I was really apprehensive starting this stage as I had no idea how my legs would hold up... as it happened they were great. I felt awesome on the way out and even started attacking from the front just to mix it up... I knew that I would struggle over the steep Millars rd climb so I broke away from the bunch leading up to it to give me a head start, this was a good decision as I predicted I got passed by most the bunch up this hill... but because I started ahead I managed to hang on to the bunch on the downhill... I don't know what it is about that hill but I just don't climb it well. All was going awesomely until our bunch hit the road cone turnaraound... another rider took my front wheel out and I fell off.... stink. I would have been able to get back on my bike and re-join the group but my chain got stuck... double stink!! So it was a long tough journey home by myself into some crappy head winds... the good thing was I only lost 4 minutes on a 35+ strong bunch so I was pleased.
All in all a great weekend and awesome experience. I hope to do it again next year!
Here is the stage 2 bunch finish...