By: Nathaniel Wallis : Cat 3 Winner.
The Bintan Lagoon Classic was the second race in the series organised by Cycosports and with no ANZA riders winning any of the categories in Nongsa we all had some making up to do. After missing out on a podium place myself in Batam, by a mere second, I came to Bintan with a certain determination…
The trip over was the usual hassle free experience Cyosports offer; after getting through customs it was straight onto the boat and we set off for Bintan. On the trip over Gavin gave us the safety briefing, underlining the fact that there were meant to be some roads in terrible condition. With this in mind, we all began to feel a little uneasy about what the day might have in store for us.
When we arrived at Bintan Lagoon everyone collected their bikes and finished getting everything ready, gels in pockets, bottles in bottle cages, Garmins on bikes, the norm…
The race began at Bintan Lagoon resort and was a 129km route with a 5km neutralised zone at the start. It took us outside of the resort area of Bintan and then we were to complete a figure of 8 route, coming back into the resort area with the finish line being just before we arrived back at Bintan Lagoon.
The race kicked off and ANZA started with an 11 strong team. Early after the neutralised zone there were a few breaks off the front, none of which were very sustained. There were a lot of times when nobody was willing to take up the pace making at the front and I looked down a good few times to see us only travelling in the 20kmh range [That was me, hoping if I set a pace of 20kmh I could get round and sprint at the end . Ed.]. The heat started to become unbearable and coming to the end of the first loop I looked back to see a good number of people had been dropped off the back. To increase the pain of the heat for some riders, as we were about to turn right to begin the second loop, a couple of policemen managed to send a couple of riders the wrong way; fortunately, none of these were ANZA riders.
With an ever-dwindling bunch we began the second loop, which started by heading directly south. The later it started getting into the day the more I found myself calling up one of the water bikes or cars to grab a drink. I looked down at my jersey and shorts and the black parts of the kit had been turned white from all the salt crystals. In the 40-degree heat a couple more breakaways were attempted, with Craig noticeably putting out a couple of sustained efforts.
It was after one of Craig’s attempts that I counter attacked and two Joyriders came with me, one man, one woman. As I went past Craig I shouted for him to jump on my wheel, but after his flurry at the front and in the searing heat, he unfortunately didn’t have the steam. The three of us got away with about 45km still to go to the finish – we worked well together and all seemed pretty happy to take turns on the front. As we started to pull away I think the ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ philosophy started to play a big role for the main bunch as from what I heard there seemed to be no extended effort to pull us back. Gels were taken on board a lot more regularly now with my stomach beginning to feel the effect…
About 20km to go and we turned right into the resort part of Bintan. By now my legs were starting to feel it and I kept looking back expecting to see the chasing group. We were on the last few major hills of the day – at this point one of our breakaway companions got dropped so it was down to me and the female from Joyriders. There was one hill in particular (one of the KOMs from the TdB) where it felt like I completely blew up and, with cramps in what felt like every muscle in my leg, I tried to ignore the pain and continue churning away at the pedals.
With around 10km to go we made a right turn and decided to take 30 second turns on the front. 5km to go, slowest 5km of my life. With the 2km to go sign I looked back one last time unable to see the bunch, I knew we had done it. We crested the last hill and came down the other side; the last 200m or so was a straight, slightly uphill stretch of road. Race done, I had crossed the line in first place and, to my surprise, had won by a whole 3 minutes over the main bunch. After a painful 45km breakaway it made the victory that little bit sweeter.
Everyone did the usual of jumping in the pools and the showers and getting changed ready for lunch. The prize presentations were done and after that we headed back down to the ferry and back home to Singapore.
An incredibly tough day out, with my heart rate topping out at 206 at one point. The 40 degree heat made the 129km feel like 200km. However, all in all a good day for ANZA (TDA-ANZA sounds like a slightly different story…) with Ståle getting second place in Cat 2, my first place in Cat 3, Craig with third place in cat 3, Aiyana narrowly missing out on the podium for the Women, and ANZA taking home first place in the team category for Cat 3 too.
A brilliantly organised day with the only bad parts of road in the end being a few large potholes and some sticky tar, and for many of us some very painful sunburn!! Hopefully we can continue our success in Batam next month and, in the meantime, pray for a cloudy day! See you there.