The prestigious National Road Series Tour of Tasmania was recently won overall by Ben Dyball of Mobius Future Racing. A sensational result for the team which further cemented their position as one of the top teams of the NRS in 2016. As a pathway for our riders, this result shows that excellence at a club level continues all the way to the top. Director Sportif Tom Petty reports in post Tasmania.
After a long and rough ferry ride back from Tasmania, I’ve finally had time to sit down and sum up the awesome week of racing at the 2016 Spirit of Tasmania Tour of Tasmania.
The race is regarded as Australia’s ‘grand tour’ with the honour roll including Cadel Evans, Richie Porte, Patrick Bevin and Jack Haig to name a few. Set in the north of Tasmania, the scenery is incredible and the terrain perfect for bike racing. For the team, this race holds extra special importance, it was here 2 years ago, that I first had the idea to create this new team, and decided to go for it.
Unbeknown to me at the time, Ben Dyball, the rider who would narrowly miss out on winning the race that year finishing 2nd, and a rider who had been the bench mark in NSW for a long time, would be the rider leading the team coming into 2016.
The team was founded on creating a genuine pathway for NSW riders and creating the right environment for success. Along the way, we brought in talented staff to work on strengthening weaknesses and improving mobility and recovery, we’ve worked with incredible equipment to improve our team and we’ve always focused on having the right type of athlete. As a result, this year has easily been my most enjoyable in the four years i’ve been a sports director, i’ve put a lot of my own time into helping riders, and i feel very lucky and appreciative that i’ve had so much support along the way – so thank you for making it all happen.
To the racing;
The plan this year was simple, to not “lose” the race prior to the mountain top finish of Poatina (where Richie Porte set the record of 35mins) and to keep both Ben Dyball and Alex West in a position to use less energy than their competitors. We wanted to wait for the queen stage to try and take the race lead, as we wanted to keep Avanti and the other teams working harder.
This years tour started with a short, uphill 700m prologue, where Pete Livingstone came 3rd, and Alex West came 4th, moving us into the young riders jersey, and Ben Dyball just sitting 19seconds back.
The three road stages are all iconic to the race, the first being a 100km stage, with the steep hill top finish in Grindelwald, just outside of Launceston. The race proceeded fairly normally, we a small break going up the road, we settled in, waiting to get the train going to position ourselves on the climb. What happened at about 80kms into the race was a massive error by us, Sam Burston had been riding the front with Avanti to reel in the break, but Ben Dyball had come back at the wrong time, over a small crest, the wind changed and Avanti attacked.
Out of position, we had to rally quickly, already having worked hard to try to bring the break back, we were quite tired. An elite group of favourite of about 15 riders were drilling it and putting time into us. With not long before the climb, we had to respond quickly, we managed to bring Ben back to the front, and Sam, Aden Reynolds, Pete Livingstone and Ben Carman, set about chasing the group. After a 10km chase at 50-60kph, we finally managed to bring them back. Sam and Pete were finished, but luckily we’d managed to use our anger to get back to the front and position Alex and Dyball to finish with the lead group. Day 1 done, Alex West moved into 3rd overall and took the young riders jersey, and we’d managed to avoid losing the race.
Gunns plains always see’s plenty of action with the final KOM being 3kms and having ramps at 15%. Over the top, it’s a 15km downhill run to the finish. With the aim to get Ben, Alex and Pete over the top, we wanted to ensure we had numbers ready for the finish. With Alex sitting 3rd, we also hoped the climb would be hard, and that Alex could have a chance to pull on the yellow jersey. A factor we knew was going to be important was the wind, it was chaotic and from the top of the final KOM home, were crosswinds that would make the dutch cry for help. A mechanical on the climb saw Pete see his chances fade, Aden and Sam stopped to get the wheel fixed, as the convoy would take to long to get to him in time. A strong chase by Pete but it was just too much.
Over the crest, we had 3 riders, two Ben’s and Alex, the wind shredding the group it was just 10 riders left coming into the finish. With Alex sprinting to 6th, and Ben coming in just behind being unhitched in the wind.
The Stage winner was U23 Australian Champion Chris Hamilton of Avanti Isowhey who has recently signed with Giant Alpecin and will move to the World Tour next year.
Today the plan was simple – we’d chosen Pineapple electrolyte from PURE to inspire us into yellow. We saw a street on the way to the start called “Dyball St” and we had this feeling that it was our day. We wanted to cover some break aways, ensure no one important was there, sit in, then ride into the base of the climb. From here, we wanted to attack hard with Ben Carman, with Ben Dyball sitting on his wheel, to launch Ben D. up the road. Forcing the others to chase, we wanted to isolate the race leader chris hamilton early, and try and take the GC lead. The back up plan was Alex West in 4th, was to mark Chris Hamilton, and wait till near the top to attack him, and try and get time here too.
The queen stage up to Poatina, a flat start, but with little straight road, it meant racing was on from the start. the first 50kms was covered in an hour, with lots of riders trying to get a head start into the climb. The day started terribly for us, Dyball had a puncture on his rear wheel. We put a lot of time into Dyball’s equipment the night before changing his Cervelo RCa to compact chainrings and setting up the wheels, so this was less than ideal start, especially as the pace was still full gas. A temporary wheel change was given to Ben, as the spare wheel he wanted was on his spare R5, which was on the roof, but Ben wanted to use his RCa, so decided to do a temporary change, get back into the race, then send Aden back to swap his wheel for the wheel Ben wanted. Then when Aden got back to the bunch, him and Ben could swap wheels, and Ben could have used less energy to get back into the race. This process took about 20kms, but eventually, the train drifted back, collected the riders, and made course for the front, to get on with the plan.
Sam Burston rode phenomenally, to limit the break, Aden and Pete took over into the base, then Ben Carman launched Dyball with an attack and Dyball went to work on getting the time needed to win. the gaps came in gradually, 7 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, and by 40 seconds and only 3kms to go, we were worried we fall just short of the 1m04s needed to win. Ben lifted again, and thanks to some time bonuses on the line, moved into the lead by 41seconds.
To win the stage, in such a fashion was the talk of the race, and something that will be remembered for a long time in Australian Cycling, and it feels incredible to be a part of.
We were ready for Avanti to throw everything at us in the crit, the rain came down, and a few crashes disrupted the field, but again, our team controlled affairs and brought Ben home to finish the tour with the yellow jersey. This result has cemented our position in second overall in the Teams classification in the National Series.