As I was packing gear in the car to head out to Kyneton for stages 2 and 3, the air was cool and crisp, with a smattering of stars lighting the sky. Packed and ready, I left, heading up Eastlink where almost instantly the starry sky was replaced by a heavy shroud of fog. The fog lightened a little along the Monash and through the city, but as soon as I was on the Calder, the fog was back, thicker and heavier than ever, with dawn doing little to combat the fog.
Over the ranges and on towards Kyneton, all of a sudden there was a glorious sunrise and the fog and cloud had disappeared leaving a bright day.
Heading out to Stage 2’s time trial course, the first thing I noticed was how misleading the profile of the course looked. Far more undulating and far less ‘down hill’ than it appeared on paper. The second thing I noticed as soon as I got out of the car was the strength and direction of the wind. A strong primarily tail-wind could mean minimal time gaps over the 6km course.
I picked out a spot a few hundred meters from the finish, and waited. A few riders came out early, warming up and checking out the course, but before long the stage was underway. Nathan Elliot, race leader and wearing the #1 bib, came through first followed by a procession of riders. 4 mens grades and 2 womens were all completing the same course, leaving the start with a 30 second time gap and racing towards the finish.
One of the exciting things about shooting a time trial is that there is plenty of action. By the time the riders reached my position, the time gaps were far more varied, but it was a matter of check for traffic, frame, focus and fire, move off the road. Rinse and repeat. Of course with around 250 riders hurtling towards me at somewhere between 40 and 50km/hour, mixing it up a little became a priority, trying to get a variety of shots and making the images look a little less like shooting fish in a barrel.
Mens A Grade Winner Shane Miller Powers toward the finish line
After the time trial, it was into Kyneton, eat and back out to the sale yards in preparation for the afternoon’s Stage 3 – a 70-odd km out and back course that would test the riders. I took up position at the KOM point and waited for each of the grades. Despite the wind earlier in the day, and despite the openess at the top of the hill, the position was warm with almost no wind, the jacket was off and I was down to a T-shirt at one point. Mens A grade came through on their return leg before the Women’s B had passed for the first time, so after a quick mental battle internally, I jumped in the car, raced off in order to overtake A grade and find another spot to shoot from.
I found a spot about 10 kms from the finish close to the top of a longish drag out of a gully. Here was a great spot to be able to shoot quite a bit, with some action going as attacks went, but most grades going slow enough up the hill to get quite a few shots.
An awesome day out, and unfortunately due to prior commitments, I wouldn’t make it back for the 4th and final stage. All competitors deserve a huge congratulations, from what I saw, the people I spoke to and various reports, the racing was exciting and captivating. Thanks must also go the Luke McDonough and his crew of officials, organisers and volunteers along with all the sponsers, all without whom, the event wouldnt be what it is.
Stage 2 photos are available here and Stage 3 are here
There is also a facebook album setup on our facebook page – www.facebook.com/ashmilnephotography
This article was written by Ash