So the first race of 2012 is done and dusted. The Tour Down Under Cancer Classic is a short and sharp criterium that takes place two days before the World Tour event starts for real. It is 50km of fast, frantic and nervous racing.
We had a good few days training before the race and some good recovery time so we all started the race feeling pretty fresh and read to go. As always, the first race is a little bit nervous; new riders in new teams trying out new combinations and tactics and of course there’s the feeling of going into the unknown. Nobody knows quite how they will feel until the race has begun.
We had a little chat before the race and worked out an order for the lead-out for our sprinter, Gerald Ciolek. I was placed pretty late on in the train so felt a little more pressure than usual. Of course it was a criterium and things normally don’t go as planned so we always have to improvise a bit.
The race started off pretty easy. I stayed near the back, in the wheels, and stayed as fresh as possible going into the last quarter of the race. I started to move further forward and before I knew it there were less than 10 laps of the 1km circuit to go and things where getting pretty crazy.
We tried our best to keep the team together but it wasn’t to be and we lost contact with each other going into the final lap. Andy Fenn did a great job in his first pro race and managed to move Gerald up a few places in the last lap, but it was too late to get us into the right end of the race.
Gerald finished just outside the top 10; a little disappointing but it’s still early days, we still have a lot to learn about each other and the younger guys are all still learning how to stay cool and be in the right place at the right time. We do have one huge advantage on our side; we have heaps of horsepower and we’re all raring to go going into the TDU itself.
The big man himself, Andre Griepel, is looking fitter and faster than ever and, for me, looks like he will be Mr Cavendish’s biggest rival in 2012! Watch out, Cav!
So a day of ‘rest’ and the big one will be upon us!
Wish us luck!