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Three Ring Circus / Season Wrap...

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By Antsonline - Posted on 23 July 2012

Re: This ride meeting: 
Three Ring Circus 2012
Jet Racing
Position (Overall): 
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So - as they say in the movies - "That’s a Wrap"

Season 2011 / 2012 is now done for me.

The 3 Ring Circus yesterday was my last race for the year. Its probably my 2nd favourite race on the calendar (behind the Convict 100) and hold a lot of memories for me.
I went into it this year knowing that it was the last race before a break from the bike, and also knowing that I hadn't really been super motivated to train since the Husky 100km.
My weight was up (not ideal for the hills of Wingello), and my legs were weaker. I knew though that I just had to push hard one last time….

The field was very classy. Sid Taberlay - always fast, and fit from racing the US national XC series. Mark 'Tupac' Tupalski, Brad Morton - both of them are always good racers, strong as steel, and hard to race.
Matty Fleming - always classy. The Bernard Beer lads, the guys form Ashfield Cycles, Andrew Arthur from Stevens bikes, Tate from Marathon MTB, Stu Ferguson, Dan McDonald, and a couple of youngsters making a step up from XC into this shorter Marathon.
The Jet Racing team was in full effect in Wingello. The gun went and I looked around and all I saw was familiar red jerseys. Jayden, Kyle, Rob were right there. Then over my shoulder I could see Wayne, and Paul.
Given this wealth of talent, we can start to control the front of the races. After a fairly fast start from Jayden (a great way to string the bunch out and ensure no early crashes) we were in a line, climbing the first hill.
From that point on, either myself, Kyle, Jayden, or Rob launched attacks from the front of the race.
We wanted to make sure people were chasing, with a view to ultimately get either myself, Kyle or Rob away and off the front, with the remaining riders sitting in.
With a team of this strength, we are able to apply a certain amount of control. It felt fantastic.

Ondrej Slezak should be noted for really doing most of the chasing in the early km's, he and Sid were the ones to chase every move we made. As we hit the first real climb - the grassy double track on the start of the red loop, Kyle and I saw that Ondrej had decided to push the pace a bit into the beginning of the climb. This would mean that by the top, he would be too tired to follow a move, should it go.
We looked at each other and knew.
Kyle sat in as I rolled up and then past Ondrej and kept the pace on the hill high, allowing no recovery for anyone. Rob Booker joined me, and rode next to me, keeping the pace on.

With 20m to go, the hill steepens, and through the middle darted Kyle. The only one able to go with him was Sid. As we crested the climb Sid and Kyle were already 30m ahead, and Rob and I rode tempo, seeing who was with us. Morton and Tupalski, as well as Ondrej.
We descended to The Wall. I saw Kyle riding up, and then saw Sid getting off. Brad and Mark had gone past me on the descent, but they too found the going too steep, and were off and running.
Rob and I rode up it fine. Most people think that riding a dual suspension bike is all about the descents - its really isn't. My S-Works Epic is set so that I have a small amount of pre-load, meaning the back wheel actually bites into the ground when climbing steep, rocky terrain.
The fact that it weighs 9.7kg also helps with such steep slopes.

By the top of The Wall, the pattern of the race was clear. I sat up, as did Rob. We had no need to chase Kyle and Sid. Mark and Brad from Onya Bike / Giant were really forced to do all the chasing.
We rode the Red Loop fairly steady, as a four, and it was only at the very end of that loop that we noticed Brad was beginning to suffer.

At the start of the Yellow loop, Rob and I had a few meters lead, as we were faster through the feed zone. We sat up and talked…
"Brads hurting, but lets allow him back on for a bit"
"yeah, he'll go on the first climb of this loop anyway"
"Mark looks strong. How are you feeling?"
"Not my best. I don’t know if I can go with them up these climbs.."

I wont tell you who said which bit. Once we were four again, the chatting stopped.
The hills of the yellow loop soon took their toll. As predicted, Brad was the first to go. He had ridden so well, but blew-up in spectacular fashion. Dropping to 14th place by the end, and losing 10 minutes on the last loop.
Then there were three.
Mark is a very strong lad. He just plugs away, and keeps the pressure on. The next hill, he turned it on a bit, and although it was tough, I was surprised to turn and see Rob in trouble. He was dangling off the back. Then - he was dropped. 20m, 30m.
Mark and I crested the hill. I moved straight onto his back wheel. I wasn’t putting the pace on to completely remove Rob from the race. I thought that if I dangled a bit off Marks wheel, it would give Rob enough to get back on. Sure enough, within a km, Rob had made it back. We were three.

The big climb was to come. Splashing through the creek crossing that marks the start of the climb, I didn’t know what to expect other than pain.
Tupac put it into us straight away. This time, Rob was done.
Then there were two.

I was battling. It sounds mad, but I could feel the extra 2kg that I was carrying around my belly. Mark got a gap, and I couldn’t close it. 5m. I thought a few things to myself, but amongst them were:
"This is your last race for a while, find what you need"
"Don’t try and close the gap now, just keep it there and then close it on the flat at the top"

I also had some words ringing in my ears from my training group. We were racing for each other. We expect a lot of each other, and have a deep understanding of how we hurt, how we race, and how we win. It was that thought, and their strength that took me back to Marks wheel.
That’s why I race and train with a team of friends.

I sat there, on Marks wheel. I was fine. Cruising. Quick drink. 5km to go.
Tightened the Boa on my S-Works shoes.
I thought of my dreadful sprint (or non-sprint) at Husky. Jayden had given me heaps of stick for it. I had to show him who was Boss.

Around the fast left, 150m to go. I'm up, and giving it everything. I'm not much of a sprinter, but a big guy, down a slight incline, with 1200 watts, will take some beating.
It was enough.
I rolled in 3rd. Delighted, as to my mind, I had won. Kyle and Sid were in a different race, off the front.
It turns out the Sid had gotten the better of Kyle, but Rob had ridden strongly by himself to hold onto 5th place.
Sid, Kyle, Myself, Mark, Rob. Jet Racing in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th place.

Next result in was the Junior 'team'. The won the Teams event overall. Callum, Aiden and Jayden. Well done lads. 18th place overall. None of them old enough to drive yet.

Then came Wayne - 29th overall, and 3rd place in his category! Another podium. Bad luck to Paul Sloan - a mechanical handicapped his race.

3 Ring Circus. Run, won, and Jet Racing had a ball.

My season ends. I fly to London on Weds to watch the Olympics. To reflect briefly, its been great. Not at all smooth, but still successful. The primary goals - the Marathon series races - have had their ups and downs. Puncture at Wombat, Cramps and traffic at Cap Pun, and then a sold ride at Convict. Husky remains 'the one that got away'.
At the start of the year, if I had been offered 4th overall in the Elite Series at this stage - I'd have bitten your hand off. Time to re-assess the goals perhaps.

I want to say a huge thanks to 'my crew'. You all know who you are. Its been a hell of a year. Your support has literally the one constant that has got me through those dark moments - in races or elsewhere.
Kyle, Cap'n Kirkby, Jenny, Tim, Garry, Jayden, Rich - you all race with me.

Mark Newton at Jet. Massive thanks. The shop is amazing, the team is going better than we could ever have expected, and its down to your hard work. Lets build again.
Matt and Tanya at Specialized. Thanks. Your support is so appreciated. Your products are fantastic. I am proud to be representing you.

So - I'm off to get fat for a few weeks, and then come back and find a new level of strength, motivation and drive - Briars Highland Fling - I'm coming for you……..

ps's picture

Also I think its good for MTB racing that some team tactics are coming into the sport. I guess not all races will suit team tactics however at places that do (which is probably most marathons) it will add another dimension to the racing and hopefully make it more interesting for you guys. I know few people who prefer road racing because of the tactics so we might end up seeing a few more of the roadies spending some time getting dirty.

Brian's picture

Well done Anthony. Enjoy your break and see you at the Fling (or maybe the Wollombi).

Ian_A's picture

Its always interesting to read your write ups Ants.
Thanks for taking the time so we can get an idea of what its like up the pointy end.
Jet racing have taken over the NSW mtb scene in what seems like a short time since the team was put together - well done.

Antsonline's picture

thanks guys. I like writing, so its no drama doing the reports.
The break has already begun - pizza, beer, and choccy desert. Feeling heavy already!

Jet Racing - its been great so far. More to come. More members, more riders, and more races......

Logan's picture

But it sounds like you sat on for a hell a lot of that race?

Maybe its the roadie in me, but I would rather attack a few times and at least feel that I have had a go and got brought back than to sit on for the whole race, dont do any work and then wack someone in the sprint, maybe its just me.

ps's picture

@logan, you need to read the report again. He sat on Tulpaski for the last 10k. Most of that is flatish fire road. Your suggesting he work to bring back hit team mate who was up the road as well as distancing his teammate who just got dropped. Tulpaski wasn't complaining, he knew he got beaten by a team with better tactics.

Logan's picture

I read the report, clearly they sat on after the wall section riding as a 4 as Mark and Giant Onya bike had to do the work.

I wouldnt work to bring back a team mate no, but I probably wouldnt sit on for race either, I would do some turns on the fire road, share the work etc. I am voicing my opinion, that if I took 3rd and sat on for a lot of the race that to me it would be a hollow victory. Yes thats tactics in the pro peleton and they get paid to race, were UCI points are important etc, but this is a half marathon down in the Southern Highlands and not even part of a series.

Antsonline's picture

so - firstly - thanks Paul.

@Logan - It wasnt a hollow victory, as I didnt win. Secondly, at the Husky, I pulled the whole field for the last 10km - closing the break, only to have the sprint me. Its a race. People want to win, come second, third, fourth etc.
To be completely honest, I was torn - I am renowned (thankfully for the sake of this argument) within the Elite field as being basically the strongest, or one of the strongest fire-road riders in the country. At Convict, I solo time-trialled for 2hrs in between two groups of riders - from the buddhist camp, I was alone. In 5th place. This race, I had a team-mate ahead in Kyle, and a team mate behind in Rob. If I had started pulling on the yellow loop we would have caught Kyle who had blown (check his times) - not great. We would have also destryoed any chance Rob might haave had of getting back on - exposing him to the group behind.
I led the race through the first lap (as the times will show), I then led Mark, Rob, and Brad through EVERY meter of singetrack on the Red loop, only letting them through for the fireroad. I was controlling the race. I have time trialled the yellow loop faster than Sids final lap time on many Sunday training rides. I dont go on Strava so cant prove it. Just beleive me. The point I am making is that I made a conscious decision to allow Kyle to be clear with Sid. Frankly, I sacrificed any chance of a win to do that - so saying it was a hollow victory is miles off. It was one of the more satisfying 3rd's I have ever ridden.

Ultimately, I race for fun. Thats the only reason I do it. Racing in a team, like we did, was more fun than any solo time trial I have ever done. Practising riding tactically in a race that is basically just about fun is also ideal - so that when it matters we know how we might play it.
The Giant boys were happy to ride as a team. They were riding tactically too. Mark was off the back for a long time after the Wall - Brad really just sat on waiting for him. They then rode as a team (albeit unsucccessfully - chasing my team mate. Had they caught Kyle - would I be complaining?
I'd be happy for you to get in touch with Mark and Brad and ask their opinions. They had great fun, and admitted it themselves.
Rockstar - always race as a team. Always cover moves, and let a team mate win rather than personal glory. We train together, support each other, and no-ones personal victory is greater than the team result.
As a final story - I will let you into a conversation had between Mark and I in the last 3km...
Mark: "Mate - would you do me a favour?"
Ant: "sure bud - what is it?"
Mark: "Please dont sprint me - I have dreadful sprinters legs"
Ant: "Oh mate - thats too big a favour to ask. At my last race, I got sprinted by 4 other guys, so you know that I suck at sprinting too, but I have some demons to exorcise"
Mark: "oh jeez, I'll have to get rid of you beforehand then..."

As we exited the final corner, Mark jumped and sprinted. It was weak.

This isnt a rant, but probably reads a bit defensive. As I crossed the line - Mark and I joked, the commentator picked up on it, and made a joke too. I am happy to be the butt of a joke, but thats all.

ps's picture

Not sure if you have read this but I found this quote in Ondrej's race report on his site.

"As I said we had 6 riders in the race, but we haven’t learnt how to co-operate as yet, so it was everyone’s solo race. We should learn how to help each other in the race together like Jet Racing did at this event, to be able to cover the breaks and have better control of the race. They really knew what to do, at what time. You could feel the level of professionalism and experience in their racing, as each rider took turns to push the tempo and make a break, forcing the pack to chase."

To me it seems a more accurate assessment of your tactics than Andy Logan's comment!

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