Thursday, 23 January 2014

Cyclocross World Championships Campaign Week 1

Well, I am finally doing this! I’m back racing on the International stage!

Thursday morning came and the nerves finally kicked in with the realisation that this was really happening.

A long journey from Melbourne to Amsterdam saw some positives which included the athlete’s flying dream - Emergency Aisle Seats for the first and longest leg of the journey. Upon arrival in Amsterdam it was a case of chucking on extra layers, finding our bags and locating where the rental car was located. In Europe bar the UK cars are set up to drive on the right hand side of the road and I’m sure that this is quite unnerving for a first time driver in Europe, this had no challenge compared to what Greg (Team Manager) had to drive through to get out of the Airport! Our car is a Ford Galaxy (these things are larger than a Toyota Tarago), no word of a lie the roads out of the airport literally leave 100mm of clearance from gutter to wheel!

We finally got out of Amsterdam and were headed for our accommodation in Zevenburgen, NED. Along the way there was plenty of passenger seat statements that were retaliated with Driver seat statements but in the end we made it after witnessing 3 motor vehicle crashes (none of which we had anything to do with) and dealing with a GPS unit that nearly found itself ripped out of the dash and sent for a swim in the nearby canal.
We caught up with team mate Tom Chapman and his father Simon, unpacked and headed out for an easy meal before calling it a night.

After a rather dismal first night’s sleep it was time to rep the Aussie jersey in our first race of the trip.. a C2 event where the name stated the class (Rucphen Cyclocross Internationale) Yeh, you could say we jumped in the deep end but needless to say we all thoroughly enjoyed the event…except maybe Tom… whom was unfortunately disqualified for a pit stop mistake. The course was excellent and super quick. Racing style was quick…like really quick….  Still I was happy with my performance with a 10th in U23 and 29th in Elite men.

We decided to keep the ball rolling by racing the next day in Leuven, Belgium (Soudal Classics Cyclocross). Another C2 event but much bigger in atmosphere and rider quality. Instead of 2,000 spectators we now had 7,000 spectators and the Field comprised of most of the world’s top 10 Cyclocross stars including the great Sven Nys! It was an absolutely mental event! It seriously rivalled a Mountain Bike world Championships. But this was made even better with the type of spectators these events draw. The people going to these events are extreme Cyclocross enthusiasts! We had photographers and fans lining up for photographs and supporter cards… All for a bunch of Australians all too similar to the Jamaican Bobsled team. Unfortunately we didn’t have any supporter cards to hand out due to our thinking that they wouldn’t want them from us but we have since gone and organised a couple of hundred cards to keep our Euro fans satisfied!
The race….. I’ve Baked better cakes! A course that I loved.. Something rather technical with drops and shoots…. Become a disaster only half a lap in…

I succumbed to a puncture literally 15m past the pit zone! I’ve learnt one thing though.. It’s actually pretty cool to be either leading the race or last and running! The amount of support I received from the 7,000 crazy spectators was mind blowing. The number of Belgium’s that new my name and were screaming it out actually gave me butterfly’s. Not to mention the Live Television coverage I received and 10 sec plug I got from the commentators!
So yeh, I was a DNF. It wasn’t the result I was looking for coming to Europe but that is the ugly reality of racing – some days it just happens.

A video of the live coverage for the Soudal Classics Cyclocross can be watched at this link
If you skip through to the 30min mark you’ll get to see me!! (For all the wrong reasons)


Stay tuned for some mid-week updates on what we have gotten up to as a team and also next weekend’s shenanigans where we go at it once again!


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Victorian Cyclocross Championships 2013

And we were off to a bmx track in Frankston, and it wasn’t for bmx racing!
The crew from Brunswick and Dirty Deeds in association with Cycling Victoria had chosen the location to hold the 2013 Victorian Cyclocross Championships.
Being from the country all reports of Frankston certainly don’t lead any foreigners looking forward to going to the destination. But truth be told, the venue was fantastic. Once again Dirty Deeds had worked their CX magic and created a fun, exhilarating course that was to decide the 2013 Vic CX Champion.
Feeling a bit rusty before the event due to a bit of a break from CXing I knew that I was going to be racing below top form and all I hoped was that everyone else had also had some time off following CX nationals.

But as soon as I had ridden a lap of the course my morales changed drastically! The use of the BMX track was unbelievable and I was having so much fun that I had a new friend to help me during the race – Adrenaline!!! 

With no U23 category I was moved into the high class Elite field that included 2013 Australian Cyclocross Champion Allan Iacuone, Team mate Lewis Rattray (International CX Superstar), Russell Collett, Paul Redenbach and John Groves among others.
The Race!
A race of many leaders is a race for the spectators – and that is what we had.
With a fast start I found myself off the front with Mikkeli Godfree, It seemed Mikkeli started deep and started to fade after a couple of laps.  The lead changed multiple times but I was able to follow wheels and sat in 2nd place for about the first 15mins before dropping to third. With powerful surges coming from Allan and Russell I begun to find myself drifting just off the back still sitting in 3rd place. Then with the nature of CX Allan and Russell pulled into the pit zone for some servicing and all of a sudden I found myself in the lead! Russell then re-joined the front followed by the arrival of the chasing Rattray and Redenbach. The group was momentarily together before splitting apart.

I had fallen into the casket and was really starting to struggle. With John Groves and Alan chasing hard behind I began to think that I wasn’t going to be able to pull a top 5 result. With the strong want to hold on I was able to, from somewhere find some fire power and in that absolutely buried myself to try and bring back a podium position whilst also hold off Allan whom was chasing hard representing his Green and Gold bands.

The last 15 minutes was a screaming pain frenzy, a battle of the course terrain, the wind, the dust, legs and lungs that just wanted you stop and topped off with a mind that just wanted to see that finish line…

4th Place, it isn’t a podium but it is top 5 and in a field as strong as the one I was in I am happy with the outcome. I was happy with my skills and I learnt a lot during the race in which I can now take home and implement into training to hopefully further enhance my performance next time.

Top 5 Results-
1st – Paul Redenbach
2nd – Russell Collett
3rd – Lewis Rattray
4th – Alex Meyland
5th – Allan Iacuone

Thanks to all of my supporters and those that made the day possible!
Giant Bicycles Australia, Gu Energy Oz, Schwalbe Tyres Australia

Also a HUGE Thank you to all that visit my blog! Over the last month my blog has had over 5,900 views!!!!

Shipwreck coast classic is my next event and is this coming weekend. The event is my first National Road Series race for the season and once again I will be joining the great Essendon Skoda road cycling team.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Frameskin Beechworth Six Hour - S.H.I.T.S 30/08/13

Back racing with a great mate at a great location on a great day, what more could one want?!?

Under the name of ‘Battle of the Brands’ both Mitch Greenway and I paired up for what we hoped would become a successful days racing at “one of the most respected events on the Victorian mountain bike racing calendar” (Enduro Magazine), the 2013 edition of the Beechworth Six Hour aka THE SHITS!

With clear blue skies and a pleasurable 20 degrees one could say ‘spring came a day early’.

Mitch ‘happily’ opted to do the first lap which also meant he had the joy of doing the long gruelling start climb. And it was something that he did very well! Coming through the tech zone to start the first lap he had placed himself in an ideal position of 3rd place just behind second and in front of Liam Jefferies ‘Torq’ and Lucas Sproson ‘FF Racing’. With a fast lap time looking to be between 30-35min Mitch backed up the start climb with a stellar first lap coming into the first change over in 2nd place and just under 1 minute  behind the leading rider.

The pressure was now on!!! We were certainly there to race and with Frame skins (Major event sponsor) putting up $150 cash for fastest lap added fuel to desire to ride fast. Smashing it out of the blocks I caught up to the leader earlier than expected in the lap. Unfortunately starting so fast was paid for when it came to climbing up to the tech zone at the end of the lap.  Obviously though this earlier effort outweighed the losses as it was still my fastest lap of the day (30min 41sec) and the overall fastest lap of the day!

(Afterwards I found out that it was a new course record!!)
Gaining the lead, allowed us to back off the speed just a little and in doing so we were both able to continue pumping out quick and relatively consistent lap times and extended our lead past the 8 minute mark.

It’s a crazy sport- you go to these events to race with great mates, but these mates are the people you see the least out of all the participants, all day! A quick congratulations as your teammate comes into transition and then you’re out on course. In a six hour event you see your teammate for no more than 1min!

And then 4pm came, six hours was up and after completing 11 laps we had won our category and overall!! It was a sad but thankful time of day to see; we were both having such an awesome day racing but fatigue was certainly starting to set in. Aside from the racing with great friends we came away with some fantastic results and prizes thanks to Finish Line events, Beechworth Chain Gang MTB Club and the events sponsors/partners.

Special Thanks to Mitch for partnering up with me (and doing the first lap + the additional lap at the end)! Mitch’s parents Rob & Fiona for their support on the day.
Giant Bicycles Australia for the XTC Advanced sl0 that was truly awesome at the Beechworth Mountain Bike park. Schwalbe Tyres (Track Tip: Racing Ralphs @ 42psi in the rear, 40psi in the front). Gu Energy and mum for keeping me fuelled with the right nutritional requirements.

Sam Miranda ITT, RR, HC 2013


Swapping a bit of Blue for Green, Treaded tyres for slicks and mad skids for racing in group bunches was the theme of my weekend racing at the Sam Miranda Cycling Festival that also incorporated a stage of the 2013 Victorian Road Series.

That’s right! Road Racing! It has only taken about 7 months of owning a Tour De France stage winning bike (Giant TCR Advanced sl) for me to join the road racing peloton after a lengthy amount of time away from it. And I did so with the support of a fantastic team – Essendon Skoda!

After talks with the team’s management and working with my already relatively busy racing calendar we found the opportunity for me to join the team that is made up of emerging riders in the under 23 age category. Made even better was the fact that the team is also supported by Giant Bicycles!

You could say that prior to the weekend’s shenanigans I was a tad nervous. 1) I didn’t know one rider in the team.
2) For the months lead up, I had been specifically training for a one hour Cyclocross race!

I was pleasantly surprised though!! As soon as I met the boys it was almost like I’d ridden with them for years…well maybe not quite, but they did a bloody good job of making me feel welcome and accepted me into the dynamics of the team.

STAGE 1 – 16km Individual Time Trial, Cheshunt to Lake William Hovell.

Going into the race I took the mentality of; Start Fast…..Ride Fast…..Finish Fast…… a simple tactic that I believe a certain Australian past Mountain Biker used to win the Tour De France.

Thanks for the advice Cadel… It didn’t work this time!

The first 12km was extremely fast averaging 40-45km/hr; the last 4km however was an absolute mind and body killing experience. It wasn’t until you came back down the hill after finishing that you realise how steep the finale really was. Needless to say I was happy to finish 11th in A Grade!

Saturday saw the weekend’s main event. A 103km stage that incorporated a 6km dirt road climb referred to as ‘Strade Nero’. I had a blast! What an awesome course that was put on for approximately 900 riders (Multiple racing grades and Gran Fondo). As soon as the date is released for 2014, you need to pencil it into your diary. Not only was the racing over the weekend top notch the event centre staged at the Sam Miranda Winery was nothing short of something you would expect for a World Pro Tour race.

Trying to be as active as I could within the race with my new team mates left me a little tired coming into the race finale but I was happy to finish in the main bunch (32nd) thus achieving my initial goal prior to the race.

Sunday Handicap – 88km of relative rolling hills.

I received the 4min bunch for the weekend’s final event; the handicap saw my name placed with a couple of team mates and numerous other highly regarded road cycling athletes. With only 4 min head start on the scratch bunch we knew that our only hope of keeping the fastest men out of contention would be by bridging the 4min gap to the group in front of us and then hopefully the strength of a larger bunch would prove too difficult for scratch to make the junction.

That plan went out the window about a 3rd of the way through the race when unfortunately we went the wrong way. Yep the local boy went the wrong way!

After losing around 2.5 minutes because of our detour and the working cohesion of the bunch, scratch quickly gobbled us up.
PLAN B!! ‘Do some work with the scratch bunch to help the chase and then look after the teams' designated sprinter and help deliver him to the finish line for a top result’. Today this was under 19 rider, Drew Morey. It is always good when plans come together! We might not have caught up to the winners of the bike race but we did get Drew into the best position we could for our bunch and the fastest time sprint. An impressive finish of fourth in the sprint (85nd overall) behind the likes of Will Walker and Shannon Johnson saw us all extremely happy with the day’s outcome. This was only heightened by the news that our team mate Mark Kelly whom was in the 8 min bunched placed a credible 3rd place overall! My result was 93rd about 4.5mins behind the winner.

So that was my weekend spent in the picturesque landscape known as the King Valley!

HUGE thanks to the Essendon Skoda Cycling Team Riders, Staff and everyone that has a part to do with this great emerging team.

Giant Bicycles Australia for the opportunity to give road racing a go on a top level race machine.  Gu Energy purely because without Gu Brew and Gu Gels I would probably still be riding or walking up ‘Strade Nero’
Sam Miranda Winery for hosting a magnificent event and supporting Australian cycling.

Photo Credit: Jim Morey

Monday, 8 July 2013

Dirty Deeds Cyclocross Series Round 1 2013

After competing in the Dirty Deeds Cyclocross Prologue event a month ago how could one not return for round 1 of the 2013 DDCX Series!
It was once again held at Brunswick’s Harrison Street Velodrome and also once again served as a brilliant location for Cyclocross! The event also brought an end to a fantastic week spent with close friends Mark & Jack Gardner.

Having a solid week of training planned and the Red Hill region practically at our doorstep I knew that I would be coming into DDCX fatigued but still excited as ever to race!

Come race day it was all systems go!! All it took was that first glance at Harrison Street upon arriving and we all knew that it was going to be BIG! Actually that’s an understatement we knew it was going to be ABSOLUTLY, CRAZILY, MASSIVLY OUT OF CONTROL!!! Overstatement??? Ok it was going to be awesome; AND IT WAS!

You really couldn’t ask for a better day- rain the night before making the grass as slick as squirt chain lube and that crazy chill factor accompanied by a useless sun... Sounds like a perfect Belgium spring day!

With a respectable race start time I made the most of trying to catch up with people, it was fantastic to catch up with the team at Bike Box and check out some new CX rubber from Schwalbe. Also making a spectator appearance from Giant Cycling world Hampton was Mr Dave Ross (and like the rest of the CXing world we were discussing the new 2014 Giant TCX range, which looks delicious!)


Like most races the starting whistle sounds signalling the start of the race. But it’s not very often that 60+ screaming cyclocrossers are faced with a 180 degree hairpin after only 70m of racing!

As usual the BFG Paul Van Der Ploeg (Giant Bicycles) got off to a stomping start, and as usual was railing it side ways around the first corner! I also managed a solid start and moved up into around 7th place.

Continuing to move forwards I was faced with a rather large gap to bridge to the two leading riders (Paul and AJ) I decided to go for it and with a bit of help from team mate Paul I was eventually able to bridge the gap!
Biting the headstem at times but generally feeling strong we stayed together for a majority of the race until we started lapping riders in groups.
A small gap formed between AJ, Paul and I as we rode through a lapped group and unfortunately AJ realised what had happened and snapped my elastic band! Trying to hold off Warrack Leach from bridging the gap to me seemed too much as I succumbed to some minor mechanical issues on the super steep hill climb.
I finished up in 4th place! A result that I am rather pleased with heading into rounds 3 & 4 of the national cx series up in Sydney next weekend!

Paul once again showed his dominance in the growing sport, taking the win in a sprint finish over Adrian Jackson.

Unfortunately I missed out my first Cyclocross podium… So I guess I will just have to give it another shot next time!!

A massive Thank you goes to Mark & Jack Gardner for the great friendships we have, it was fantastic spending the week with them.
Giant Bicycles Australia for their truly tremendous support, the team at Bike Box & Schwalbe Australia for the Rubber that works!  And my dad for coming down on the day to cheer me on!


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

NCXS rounds 1 & 2 - Adelaide 2013



How was I not engaged in this radical form of cycling earlier?

With some last minute planning I was off to rAdelaide to compete in my first UCI sanctioned Cyclocross race and although I was practically buzzing with excitement I was perhaps a little nervous as the longest Cyclocross event I had done to date was the Dirty Deeds prologue and whilst it was out of this planet crazy, it was only about a five minute race….. I was now about to face up to two sixty minute races with athlete’s coming from all over Oz to create fields that had some of Australia’s most highly regarded cycling athlete’s and whom were all racing for top honours.

After a 4.00am wake up and a 10hr drive we finally arrived in Adelaide mid Friday afternoon. Getting into the rAdelaide spirit we headed down to Adelaide Central Market and found ourselves at ‘Ky Chow’ having some quality Chinese for dinner.

With Saturday’s race starting at 2pm I was able to quickly drop into Giant Cycling World Adelaide for some fine tuning of the TCX before hitting the event venue to help set up the Team Giant camp!

Starting 45th on the grid gave me a situation that I was used to dealing with whilst competing in Europe on the mountain bike – Elbows out, don’t leave gaps, look for gaps to move forward and if there aren’t any gaps make them!

As is the same with World Cup mtb racing you can normally move forwards but the leading riders have generally established a gap on the rest of the field by the time you’ve moved through the peloton.
One big thing I learnt about Cyclocross very quickly was that due to the high speeds bridging 5 metres to the rider in front is extremely difficult! I was fortunate enough to gain a decent start and moved up a number of positions early on in the race.

I settled into a small bunch that included fellow national series mtbers Nick Both and Tom Goddard (4shaw-Giant). Nick was able to establish one of those gaps that we were never able to recover and in attempt unfortunately Tom had a closer look at what type of grass Adelaide parklands has.

With 3 laps to go we lost cx dynamo Neil Ross and our bunch became that of Warrack Leach and myself.

Eventually after an hour of heart and lung breaking pain, it came down to a sprint for 18th. Not knowing how well Warrack could sprint I decided to take to the front and defend position rather than attack- all great in theory but unfortunately I didn’t have the required strength to hold him off.

Finishing exhausted and drained of absolutely everything, I was rather pleased to have finished where I had. Most of the time I would say “really looking forward to tomorrow” but in the case of Saturday afternoon it was a case of “That was one of the best races I have ever done, But do we really have to do another tomorrow?” I’m almost certain by the faces I saw post-race this was the general vibe. Gradually once the body had started to recover from the punishment the excitement for Sunday began grow and grow.

Saturday night was far from a great night’s sleep. Not because I couldn’t sleep, more the case of my minds excitement from the days race and how I could make Sunday’s round 2 race even better!

Again starting at 2pm meant that the morning allowed for a casual walk through Rundle mall.

Changing parkland for round 2 had us on a course that was deemed to be more suited to mountain bikers! “Yeh, Yeh, Yeh, this is my second cx race! I’l be happy to keep rubber side down”

And keeping rubber side down was achieved thanks to Schwalbe tyres Aus – Repping the skinny Racing Ralphs meant my tyres were gripping to the grass like a baby to a milk bottle.

Starting further up the grid didn’t seem to help too much as a poor start had me in practically the same starting situation I had in round one! Moving through the field I was able to get back to about 12th or so place and onto the wheel of multiple Tour De France green jersey winner ‘Robbie McEwen’!!!

And again I had the pleasures of riding with Nick Both and Warrack Leach. To say racing cx is an awesome experience is blown into the universe when you are there swapping turns with a guy I watched on television whilst growing up winning some of the world’s biggest events!
However it certainly didn’t make the racing any easier.

With the four of us staying together practically until the end we cemented the possibility of a top 10 place for one of the riders in our group. Robbie being so tactically minded was able to get a small jump on the rest of us mid-way through the last lap (although fair bet would say he’d win the sprint anyway). With Warrack dropping off it came down to a one on one match sprint against Nick. This time around the situation was a little different as Nick was leading out and I actually had some legs to work with!! I was able to jump around with a couple of hundred metres to go and finish in 11th place 2 seconds behind Robbie.


Too tired to drive home following the race we opted to stay an extra night in rAdelaide and headed down to Glenelg for what I’m calling a well-deserved ice cream!

Huge thanks must go out to Giant Cycling World Adelaide for their fantastic support in the lead up and over the duration of the weekend’s events.
Schwalbe Tyres for the rubber that works
Gu Energy for pre event hydration and recovery (no liquid on board during race)
The organisers and volunteers that made the event possible along with the crowds that lined the sidelines!
Kerryn Holmesby Photography for more photos check out Kerryn's FB page @
Special thanks to my dad (Greg) for all the tremendous the support he gives and offers!