STAGE 1 – PROLOGUE
On a deceptively fast course of 5.9kms, the focus was to keep the putting down the power even in the descents. A race of seconds, any advantage possible was to be the difference between 1-10 or 30-40th.
With an average speed of just over 49 km/hr Will Pratt (AW – CCN) coming of a terrific win last weekend in Singapore finished in 1st. 6.52mins. Pierre-Alain Scherwey (AW-CCN) less than 0.8secs behind in second and Ben Arnott (Mavericks) in 3rd, sub 7mins
Raoul did a great ride for 9th, Brad 11th and Matt 16th – all within 24 seconds of Wills leading time. Hish, Pete Bennett, Adam Nelson were slightly further back – within 35secs.
With the team taking the top 2 places on the podium – this was an awesome start to the AW- CCN Phuket campaign.
STAGE 2 – 113km
Departing “Thanyapura” at 8am temperatures had already soared to 34C. Allied world – CCN race tactic; considering 1st & 2nd on GC, was to put 4 guys on the front for the first 65km. Limit the attacks from the bunch and get both Will and Pierre to the first real climb of the day in the best position with the freshest legs.
Adam, Peter, Matt and Raoul worked well together riding tempo over the rolling terrain at 43kms/h.
As the bunch swung around to the right we hit the first real climb of the day, 400m at 8-12%. This is where the selections would start. Almost immediately, 42 cat 1 racers down to 30. Quarter of the group was shelled out the back.
Fast decent and 10kms to the second climb. Gas on! Climb 2, shorter and more gradual – another 5 rider out the back. Hammer down!
78km in the legs now and basically rolling terrain to the finish. Bunch was positioning itself for a sprint finish.
As the peloton crossed the security checkpoint and turned onto the main 2.5 lane road, the wider roads lead to a flurry of attacks.
Will made some progress in one of these attacks, but the peloton wasn’t going to let the GC just ride away. Closing it down.
With 20kms to go a rider from Cycling training asia attacked and built a decent gap. The peloton leaving him out to dry kept him just in sight as he charged away solo. At 15km to go, Pierre noticing a bunched peloton and attacked on the far right hand side of the road from mid way in the group. By the time the peloton had realised, he put 30m in the bunch and people were looking at one another for a response. No one took ownership. 100m, no response, 200m, no response – he was away!
Bridging to the cycling training asia rider he extended his lead. Takai (Veleska USA) saw the danger and attacked solo. Pushing hard he bridged the group of 2. The efforts of the original escapè had taken its toll and the cycling training asia rider dropped back the peloton. Pierre and Takai continued to push ahead. Takai pushing a massive gear, the pair extended their lead.
5kms to go the road swept hard left, from the main freeway of 2.5 lanes to only a single track. They timed it perfectly, peloton would be forced to bunch up and slow on the turn.
With 100m to go, Pierre saw his move and kicked out of the saddle. Taking the win on stage 2 and extended his lead. Credit to Takai today for a super strong finish.
Overall GC results end of stage 2:
- Pierre 1st
- Will 3rd
- Brad 11th
STAGE 3 -89 kms
Entering the third and final stage, the team were in an excellent position; Pierre-Alain held the jersey after his late attack and stage with the day before, while Will was still in 3rd place on GC with just Takei (Team Veselka USA & current Japanese MTB champion) separating the two. PA’s lead was a slender 6 seconds and with Takei the stronger climber. There was still plenty of work to do to secure the overall.
Sunday’s stage was relatively short at 89km, but that insubstantial distance belied the brutality of the parcours. The route took in two laps of a coastal loop which included, in quick succession, two 400m long, very steep climbs averaging 16-20% gradient. The first ascent came at 26km and the second at 65km. A flurry of attacks over the climbs was anticipated, so rather than burning out the strong men early on in trying to control the race, the team took a call to keep everyone fresh for the first run into the climbs, allowing them to get over with the lead group.
The compact bunch came into the first climb with everything still together. The pace plummeted and heart rates rocketed as the riders ground over the steep rise, rear wheels occasionally losing traction on the leafy roads. With everyone in the team safely down the tricky descent – Brad included, despite making a Tommy Voeckler-esque visit to a roadside layby on one of the downhill corners – we had kept good numbers in the front group. It was at this point that Will, after marking Mavs danger man, Ben Arnott, over the climb, drifted off the front.
Swift Carbon-Virgin Active rider Craig Bachelor rode across, but the rest of the bunch showed no signs of reacting. Looking back over his shoulder and seeing that PA was safely with the front group, Will got his head down and pushed on. Combining well with Craig, the pair opened up a significant gap over the subsequent 40km, taking a lead of just over 2 minutes into the second time over the climbs. Will opened up a small gap over the first climb and took it easy on the descent, allowing Craig to catch on. The SCVA man was clearly struggling with the gradient, however, as over the second climb Will opened a 15 second gap.
Seeing the gap as they returned to the flat roads, Will took the call to push on solo; in part to guarantee the stage win, but also to limit the time gains that Craig would make on PA. A hot 15km time trial to the finish ensued, with Will extending his lead on his breakaway companion and holding off a late charge to the line from Takei, who had chipped off the front of the bunch in a 3-man chase group late on. The AW-CCN rider had time to savour the win at the end of three days hard riding, raising his arms as he crossed the line.
Behind, PA crossed the line with the bunch, relinquishing 30 seconds and second place to Takei, but sufficiently limiting his losses to hold onto 3rd overall and ensure two spots on the final podium for the team. Hish and Brad were there with him, having worked hard to keep things together in the group, and in so doing secured the overall Team prize for AW-CCN.
A fantastic result for the team in this inaugural Tour de Phuket. A huge thanks to Cycosports and Thanyapura for running and hosting this excellent event. Thanks, too, to Allied World, CCN Sportwear, Neil Pryde Bikes, High 5 Nutrition, 720 Armour, MET helmets and our other sponsors for their continued support.
The team are next in action in Indonesia for the 3-day Tour de Bintan from April 1-3. With wins in the last 2 races, we go in with confidence!