This Sunday just gone saw the inaugural Manly-Warringah Cycle Club West Head State Open race. Usually, this is “just” a club race, so in it’s new form as a state open it was always bound to bring out some seriously quality riders.
The forecast for the weekend was looking awful, and with a week of rain preceding the race and some puddles on the road that looked like they’d need a ferry to cross, it was only the strong (or simple) of mind that ended up making the trek out to the start line. The day dawned with light drizzle and heavy fog, and the aforementioned puddle meant that the course was shortened to a mere 10 km (around 80 km total distance). This favoured the pure sprinters as the infamous “Wall” climb was removed. There were plenty of riders looking nervously at Nash Kent and Sean Whitfield, so the plan for our guys was always going to be to make the race hard and try to drop them. Not blokes you want to bring to the finish line…
The first lap was fierce, with Chris averaging close to 40 kph and 265 W (4.3 w/kg) in the bunch. On the second lap, Marcus Culey (St George Continental) attacked up one of the bergs, with Jesse Coyle (Mobius Future Racing) jumping straight on his wheel. Chris immediately saw this as the dangerous move of the day, and put in a solid effort to bridge (630 W for 30 sec, or 10 w/kg) before settling into a rhythm with his breakaway partners.
They soon caught Luke Cridland who had spent the last half a lap off the front solo. The rest of the race remained pretty solid, with Chris averaging about 285 W (4.5 w/kg) for the next 1 hour and 45 minutes. The normalized power of ~320 W (>5 w/kg) for the breakaway section shows the true difficulty of being in a break at this level. Many A grade club level riders would struggle to do this for even 20 minutes, let alone an entire race.
In the end, Jesse managed to prove that he can actually sprint when he puts his mind to it, coming across the line first after pumping out >1100 W for 10 seconds (peak >1300 W). Marcus crossed second, while Chris rolled over in third (he’d struggle to sprint his way out of a wet paper bag).
There are a few takeaways we’d like to go over from this race.
Firstly, the tactics. The guys knew from the start that the conditions favoured a breakaway, with the dense fog providing a line of sight advantage as soon as anyone got more than 20 seconds up the road in places. The need to rid themselves of the real sprinters meant that the goal was to get this break happening pretty quickly. After a flurry of attacks in the first lap, (featuring our duo of Nero Racing Angus’s) a good platform was set up to launch the break of the day.
Secondly, this was just a good, hard race. This favours guys like Chris and Jesse as they have the fitness to go with the surges and then attack just when everyone else is hurting most. Although Chris’s heart rate barely went over threshold all race, he assures us his legs were screaming.
This is also the first State Open podium for Nero Racing, a result we’re pretty proud of! Nero even had Angus Calder nailing the bunch sprint for 4th, after Gus Wilson was caught out behind a crash towards the latter half of the race.
To have two Nero Coaching athletes in Jesse and Chris on the podium is a pretty special result for us. These guys have both come a long way, not just in their fitness but in the approach to racing. Chapeau lads!
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