So the UCI World Road Race Cycling Championships has been and gone. This was the first time the race for the coverted rainbow jersey has been outside the northern hemisphere and Melbourne and Geelong were proud to play host to this prestigious race. We got back to Melbourne late Thursday night, had a few days to recover and sort out some domestic chores, with just enough time to make it to the Men’s race – the final event of the championships.
The were a number of mens womens and under 23 events held over 5 days culminating in the mens road race from Melbourne’s iconic Federation Square, down to Geelong where the bunch would complete 11 laps of a challenging 15km loop. All up a lazy 260kms with about 3000m of vertical ascention
Crisp blue skies greeted the riders at the sign on as Melbourne turned on her charm. The sign on was a relaxed affair before the riders headed to the start line. Fans were given plenty of opportunity to get close to the worlds best. A special roar of approval was held for the hometown heros wearing the green gold and white, featuring outgoing champion Cadel Evans.
After spending time at Fed Square for the depart, we headed on down to Geelong to await the riders arrival. Once in Geelong, we started home the home straight slowly making our way backwards around the course taking the opportunity to shoot the riders every time they came around. At this stage, an early break had gone up the road, with a lead of over 20 minutes. This meant the pace was kept fairly high as soon as the main peloton hit the Geelong Circuit.
The high pace and the arrival of some crosswinds meant there were inevitably splits happening thoughout the peleton. the make up of these splits would determine which teams would move to the front to drive the pace.
After getting about 1/3 of the way round we head back to the finish straight where we could watch the exciting last 2 laps on one if the big screens set up by the organisers. The last part of the race was punctuated with viscious attacks and aggressive racing. Pain was dished out as rider after rider tried to either get away or just keep the pressure on to reduce the bunch and shed the sprinters. Despite some monster attacks from the likes of Nibali, Gilbert and Evans, eventually it came down to a bunch sprint.
The pure sprinters such as Mark Cavendish had been dropped earlier, but there was enough of a bunch for the gallop. Roaring up the hill and timing his effort to perfection was Norwegian champion Thor hushovd, who now gets the rainbow jersey for the next year. A tough giant of a rider I have no doubt that he will honor the jersey with his brand of racing – allowing the jersey to be prominent thoughout the year, from the spring classics as well as the grand tours.
Cudos to Phillip Gilbert, Cadel Evans, Vincenzo Nibali and the other riders who really animated the race towards the end. Congratultions and thanks to riders and organisers for coming out and making this race such a fantastic spectacle. A larger gallery of images from the day available here.
This article was written by admin