The Mobius Future Racing Team headed along to the Blayney to Bathurst cycling festival, which forms an important part of their early season. The weekend plays host to a number of events, namely the NSW hill climb championships on the Saturday and the B2B Gold Wave Road Race on the Sunday.
We had six riders make the trip down who covered the spread of events. The hill climb time trial on Saturday featured a bigger and arguably stronger field of riders than previous years. In the U23 division our riders Ben Carman, Peter Livingstone and new addition Aiden Kampers finished 5th, 6th and 7th in the event. Scott Bradburn, who had had this event in his crosshairs following some great early season form, put in a strong showing but had to settle for 2nd behind a very impressive Brodie Talbot.
The next event on the program was the twilight criterium, which had been moved this year to take place in the town centre of Bathurst. The central location and large crowds meant the atmosphere was electric, and so too was the racing. With a 600m long course and 4 right-angled corners, the NSWIS team took to the front early and drove a pace which proved to be incredibly discriminating to all but the most seasoned crit racers. To put it in perspective, the field was 70 riders strong, by the end of the second lap, riders were already pulling out and by 12 minutes in, we were down to 15 riders.
Peter Livingstone and Ben Carmen were able to roll with the punches and played a part in the hectic affair,. Peter Livingstone was a crowd favourite, particularly towards the end of the race, as he yo-yo’d off the back only to come to life yet again and chase back on again. With NSWIS having strength in numbers, it was left to Ben Carmen to respond to numerous attacks in an impressive display of strength. Ben eventually came in 7th in a race that was won by Canberra rider NSWIS rider Ayden Toovey.
With the Saturday squared away, their attention turned to the 110km road race on Sunday morning. With a squad relatively light on numbers, but high in quality, we resolved to ride a largely reactionary race with an eye on featuring in whatever breakaway made it’s way up the road. After an uncharacteristically short (or maybe even non-existent) neutral zone, the race started with a series of darting attacks. After only 10 minutes of racing, a large contingent with all the colours of the NRS rainbow broke clear. We wanted numbers in the break, and after some enthusiastic hand gestures from road captain Scott Bradburn, I made my way across the growing gap to join Pete Livingstone in a break that initially numbered 16 riders.
Despite the risks of such an early move, the breakaway members worked cohesively and relentlessly to build the lead, keeping a tight formation and stomping over the undulating course. Our first time check came at 50 seconds, and over the next 70km built up to a maximum of 4 minutes and 40 seconds. The winds were firm however, with consistent head and cross winds forcing us in and out of echelon formation as we pressed on. After 85km of racing, 80 of which were in the breakaway, our gap had been eroded to 2 minutes 30 seconds by the time we reached the climb at Rockley. At just over 5km and with pinches of 13%, the Rockley climb is often the defining moment of the B2B, and with a handy lead it looked like we were set to stay away.
Being training partners back in Sydney, Pete and I had stuck close together in the break all day, keeping communication open and looking out for each other in the tough conditions. By the time we hit the climb, Pete was well rested (relatively speaking of course) and we put our plan in to action as I set the pace on the lower slopes. The inevitable turn of speed as the road pitched ever upwards split the already reduced group, as Dylan Sunderland dragged 5 riders up the road, including the seemingly tireless Pete Livingstone, who even after a hill time trial and criterium the day before, showed the elite selection a clean pair of heels as he crested the climb and took out the King of the Mountain category for the event.
Over the final 20km the splintered breakaway came together in two groups. In the highly technical run in to the finish, Pete was able to cross the line in 5th, while I followed in the next group in 9th place, just holding off a fast finishing peloton. The result is obviously not we set out hoping to achieve, we always aim to put our best foot forward and we race to win, but ultimately there was some great racing from the whole team. It is an ongoing privilege to be part of such a cohesive and talented squad, and early signs are pointing towards an exciting and competitive season of racing.
Stay tuned for our next race report following the NSW State Road Titles on Sunday 9 April.
Written by Aaron Bicknell.
Photos by Matthew Dinham