Sam Davis Blog

Tour of Singkarak 3/6/12

The last two days have just been two days of travel. Two days of travel that have ended with me sleeping on the floor of a dirty ‘villa’ in the middle of Singkarak… oh the glamor of bike racing. It started yesterday with 3 different flights which finally landed me in Padang at 5pm. After a long but not very far bus trip via registration
we made it to the hotel for the night at 10pm. Dinner was luke warm and looked as though it had been sitting above the meagre little flame trying to warm it for a long time. Being so hungry we all dug into the rice and a brave few had some curry. Feeling a bit unsatisfied I stretched and went to bed.
Today began at 7.00am with an Indonesian style breakfast of rice and curries. It was a massive improvement on dinner last night at least. We left at 7.30 for a 3 hour car trip to a train station where a train was waiting to take us to the town that the race starts from tomorrow and where we will spend the night tonight. Arriving at the train
‘station’ (the word station being a massive overstatement) we see that the train is a small, old diesel engine type. Some other teams had arrived before us and were starting to climb on. We hung back until sadly the train had filled up and we were ‘forced’ to get back into the air conditioned car that had taken us thus far. The convoy of cars
moved off with us very glad not to be in the hot tin can train for 3 hours. Our car trip was a relatively comfortable 2 hours.
We arrived in time for lunch and then were taken to our accommodation for the night. Luxury villa it certainly is not. At least we have mattresses and the sheets seem cleanish. It turns out we came here for a bike race and not a luxury holiday and it was time to get out for a couple of hours on the bikes. While unpacking the bikes Joel had found that his bike had copped some pretty serious damage. His handlebars were bent and his frame seemed to be cracked. With a bit of force the bars were put back into line and he decided that the crack was not structural’. I don’t know if this is true but he is happy to ride it anyway. The day took a turn for the better as soon as I got riding.
It’s hard to tell how the legs are feeling on a 2 hour steady ride but ride it’s self was great. The road was constantly winding and rising and dipping as we twisted through rice paddies and small towns. There was constantly something to look at. A scooter with 4 dogs and a person on board, some goats, all kinds of strange stalls and
ridiculously modified vans and mopeds were just a few of the regularly encountered sights on a short ride through country Indonesia.
After the opening ceremony tonight my least favourite part (the getting there) of the tour will be over. I am just looking forward to getting stuck into the racing so that the little things such as silly transfers, cold food and ramshackle accommodation fade into insignificance.
thanks,
Sam

Tour of Singkarak Stage 2
We had Jai second on general classification going into today and are confident in his ability to climb with the best later on in the tour so his job was today was to sit in while Blake and I made sure we were represented in any substantial early move. Blake and I were both active early and eventually Blake made it into a move of 12 riders after about 30km. At the 40km mark we started the 10km steady cat 2 climb. The climb was taken at a steady tempo and a fairly large peleton crested the climb. At this point the break had a 4 minute lead. The Australian U23 team had missed the break and began to chase on the descent. The descent was taken with some aggression as the pace was lifted. On a tightening left hander there was rough road on the inside. The Australian rider in front of me over compensated and swerved hard to the right and locked up his rear wheel. I was taken very wide and sent on a collision course with the jungle. I ploughed into the jungle and went over the bars and ended up 3m down a muddy cliff. I was stuck there, tangled up with my bike and bits of vines and tree. I managed to free myself from my bike and get to my feet but was faced with a sharp muddy cliff. I couldn’t climb it with my bike on my shoulder so I shouted out for some help. No one came. It was like I had just disappeared and no one knew. I was forced to kind of chuck my bike half way up the slope where it got caught some in some trees and then with some difficulty scrabble up the muddy cliff, reach back down and pull my bike the rest of the way up. Finally after some more difficulty I had my chain back on, brakes re aligned and was ready to try to get going again when around the corner comes the groupetto. A few of the riders had made the same mistake as the Australian in front of me and came careering towards me and T boned me. I was back on my arse for the 2nd time today. This time at least I could get straight back up and chased back into the groupetto that had just ran into me. The next 60km were spent trying to navigate an Asian groupetto, it is certainly not the steady ride back to the finish that I wanted. An Asian groupetto involves random attacks, being backed off the wheel, some shouting, some more surging and it all finishes in a life or death sprint for the line. Thank god that day is over. The damage report: My frame is cracked in the top tube, my helmet is badly cracked and I am a bit bruised and have some small gouges from tree branches but I will be able to start tomorrow.
As for the rest of the team, they had a much better day. The break was pulled back and Joel ended up in the top 10 on the stage. Jai is still second on GC.

Tour Singkarak Stage 3
Today’s stage was a short 102km stage with 2 category 2 climbs. The first started at the 10km mark and finished at the 22km mark. The second was 13km long and finished at 82km. I started the stage a long way down on general classification after yesterday’s crash and so was given the task of making sure that I was in any early break that had more than 4 riders and to control any break that contained any dangerous riders. Blake Hose also needed to make sure he was in any early break that contained dangerous riders. I found myself in a break of 5 riders after just 5km of racing. It only lasted to the 10km mark as we were caught at the base of the first climb. Aisan racing who hold yellow were keen to bring us back. This meant that the first climb was quite chaotic, the attacks came thick and fast. Jai was riding good position near the front and followed the best of the climbers. Blake and I kept any larger moves under control and we crested the climb with a fairly large group that swelled on the descent. A small move of 3 riders got away as we began the descent. This was a good situation of us as Aisan racing took to the front and rode a solid tempo to keep the break close. The break had 1min30s at the base of the second climb but to my surprise the time board also showed an AZAD rider at 2min. I had not seen this rider attack (a big mistake on all of our parts). He is a known climber and should have been controlled. Joel came up to me and said what I knew was coming. It was time to get on the front and ride a solid tempo. I had some help from Kayne early on in the climb and Mitch Lovelock-Fay from Australia. Together we were able to hold the gap at 2min. The final 20km were mostly downhill and we drove it. It was time to lay it all down to try to close the gap. We got so close, as we entered the finishing straight he was in sight. By the finish the bunch had swelled and Joel was back in. He was able to win the bunch sprint and take second on the stage. The time gap to the winner was only 8s.

Tour of Singkarak stage 5
Today’s stage a tough 150km day with one very difficult cat 1 climb right in the middle. We held the yellow jersey and were happy to see an early break go. Even better was that Blake Hose had managed to sneak into the break. Kayne and Joel rode tempo and controlled the gap to 3.30 by the time we hit the base of the climb. Once we hit the climb the bunch stalled and I got to the front to set a tempo. After a short time the attacks came. First was Oscar (a Spanish rider from Azad). He took off with such speed that no one could go and he was riding away fast. A few more little attacks went and were covered. This lifted the pace so that there were only about 7 riders left. I cracked as a surge came on a steeper section. I just rode my own tempo and gradually began to crawl back up to the small group. Jai was on the front as the others just looked at him to keep the pace on and minimise the gap to Oscar. I went straight to the front and did my best to give Jai some respite. After only a short time we hit another steep section and another surge put me out the arse again. That is where I stayed. I went over the climb with about 5 other riders a few where close to Jai on GC so I sat on as they tried to get a chase together. Everyone was wrecked and the chase struggled to gain any momentum. As we began to descend the group swelled to about 15 riders. As we came off the climb I was able to get some instructions from team car, it was what I already knew, just sit on and watch. The descent went for 40km after which we had a flat 20km into the finish. With 30km left to race the team car came back and gave the instruction for me to start to chase. I knew this meant something bad was happening down the road. It turned out that Jai’s bunch was not catching Oscar despite having Blake now helping with the chase. I got to the front and started to ride. This encouraged the others and we were soon flying down the descent. The pace was remained high as we hit the final flat section but it was too little too late. My group finished 1.30 behind Jai’s and Oscar had held onto enough of his lead to take the yellow. Jai was devastated to lose the yellow and we are all feeling pretty low tonight.

Tour of Singkarak Stage 6
Today started in the usual manner – with endless attacks. Today more than ever the early break had a chance to stick. It was a flat 145km apart from 2 cat 3 climbs 10km apart right in the middle. The yellow jersey was pretty much decided and Azad would be expected to let an early break go and then control the pace. I worked hard early on the make sure we had representation in the break but was shut down. Blake was also floating around the front and managed to get into what would be the break for the day. It was a 10 man move, which seemed a bit large to me to let go but Azad were happy with it and let the gap out to about 4 minutes. As we came into the last 30km the pace started to lift when Terenganu sent some riders to the front to try to bring it back together for a bunch kick. With 20km to go we were readying ourselves for a sprint should the break come back when we see Blake. He was wrecked after a big day yesterday and couldn’t match the surges in the break. Our only hope now was for a bunch kick. We got so close, the peleton finished 15s behind the break and ended up just sprinting for 9th place.

 

Tour of Borneo:

Stage 5.

Nathan was sitting only 6 seconds down on the overall leader and both Blake and Johno were within striking distance. The 112km stage began with an 3km climb followed by 60km of undulating terrain and a flat run into the finish. Today we had to put the yellow jersey under pressure and the only way to achieve this was to send Blake and Johno off the front. Johno hit out of the gate and up the first climb. He was reeled in by the top only to attack again. I was not in a good way and could make it over the hills by sag climbing. I would crest each hill just on the back of the quickly diminishing bunch and roll to front ready for the next one. As each hill came we continued to attack and counter attack until we had the ideal situation. Blake, Johno and Kayne were all in a break of 7 riders that went out to 6 minutes. Pure Black only had 3 riders chasing through the undulations. AJ surged every little climb and managed to drop one of the Pure Black riders so that their chase was weakened to 2 riders. For the next 50km of flat it was an all-out pursuit for the tour as the break worked well to hold its gap. With 30km left to race Pure Back received some much need help from Kazakhstan and Plan B who were defending 3rd on GC. Now the gap started to come down. Coming into the finish we weren’t sure what the final time gap was and who was leading tour the last time check was 3min so it would be close. We still had to try to create a 6 second gap between the yellow jersey and Nathan in the finish so AJ dive bombed up the inside with Nathan on his wheel into the second last 90 degree bend with 650m to go. I was positioned on Nathans wheel as the ‘sweeper’ and dropped the wheel while taking the rest of the bunch to the barriers on the right. As a new train tried to come up the inside of me for the next left with 500m to go I swang left. Aj and Nathan had a good gap and went all out for the line. The final time gap was only 2 seconds, 4 second short of the 6 needed to win the tour. We found out in the finish that the chasing bunch had just pulled back enough time on the break to defend Torkler’s lead. Blake Hose managed to take 3rd on the stage which was a good effort considering how hard he worked in the break. So in the end Genesys took out the teams GC and Nathan was second and Johno third on individual GC which was a good result for the team. I am looking forward to getting home and having a short break before I start training for Tour of Singarak.

Stage 4

Today’s tough 216km stage with its 20km hilltop finish was always going to decide GC. It was a mostly flat 100km before the terrain started to become rolling hills. There was a Cat3 climb at 130km and then after that there were constant little climbs. Our plan going into the race was to try isolate the yellow jersey and then make him tired before the climb. To this we needed a break to go early to force Pure Black to chase. After about 20km the break of 7 had gone and Johno Lovelock was up there. Having a rider in the break was just a bonus that meant we would never have to close the gap even if Pure Black faded. I was starting to feel a bit of stomach cramp at about the 70km mark. It felt like just any other cramp and it should go away. I kept drinking and eating as I knew that I should to get through the stage. Once we hit the rolling hills at 100km my stomach was starting get bad and every time I put any food or water in it became much worse. The peleton made it to the Cat3 together and over the top together. Pure Black still had 2 riders working to bring the break back. We caught the break at 150km. The bunch stalled a little bit and Johno saw the opportunity to go again. In a brilliant move he took off solo and quickly established a good gap that went out to 2.45. At this point I was not doing well. I had hardly eaten or drunk anything, my stomach was tying itself in knots and I was starting to get dizzy. I kept trying to just drink water but the effect on my stomach was immediate, it would just cramp up even worse. At 160km we hit a small climb and a rider from a small Asian team lifted the tempo. The bunch split so that there was only 35 riders left but crucially all of the Pure Black riders had been dropped apart from the yellow jersey. He had no choice but to ride the front. He got to the front and strung the group out single file. Up every little climb he lifted the tempo and up every climb riders were getting dropped. I was not doing well at this point. My legs were feeling weak, I felt like I needed to crap and vomit at the same time and the pain in my stomach was excruciating. We hit the base of the final climb with about 20 riders and 25km left to race. The first 10km of the climb are mostly steady with some steeper sections followed by some downhill sections. We hit a steeper section with 20km to go and my legs just collapsed. I was sweating like crazy and felt like my stomach was literally being tied in knots. It was like hitting a wall. I was quickly at the team where they loaded me with water and importantly tissues. I could strip off quick enough and jump into the ditch to unload. I was completely finished and at very low low point. All I wanted to do was lie down in foetal position on the side of the road but I knew I had to finish to race tomorrow. I climbed on my bike (bib and brace unhooked) and got going again but very slowly. This was going to be the toughest (and slowest) 20km I had ridden. I was dizzy, sick and so weak. A few groups of dropped riders went past me like I was standing still. Luckily I had left my bibs off because before I knew I was back into the bush. But I got back on, put it into the 28 and just rode slowly counting down the kilometres. It was excruciating. Finally I made it to 3km to go just as another dropped group caught me. They were doing closer to my pace and I gathered up enough composure to pull myself into their group and finish. After finishing I could do nothing but roll to the team car and collapse (and take an Imodium). I was devastated, today was a stage that suited my abilities and I had been looking forward to it. It is so disappointing to go down like that. But I finished inside time cut and will start tomorrow, to get biddons and ride the front. Luckily the team rode awesomely. Nathan rode away with the yellow jersey on the final climb and ended up winning the stage. He couldn’t take any time and sits a comfortable second on GC. Blake and Johno both finished near the front and didn’t lose too much time. With these three riding so well the team also a convincing lead on teams GC.

I’ve eaten some rice and noodles since the stage and am feeling slightly better. My stomach is still in knots but I am not so weak. Tomorrow is still going to be tough despite only being 112km.

Stage 3.

Today was a flat 180km stage that went fairly predictably. The early break of four riders went with out too much and Pure Black set the pace the gap gradually went out to 6 minutes. It was one of those hot boring days where your secretly glad that you don’t have the yellow jersey. Pure Black was starting to fade and with 60km to go and the gap was still 6 minutes. At this point we decided to put Kayne Walker on the front to help the chase. The Uzbekistan national team saw this and also put two riders into the chase. With the fresh legs chasing the gap quickly came done so that is was 2min 30s with 30km remaining. Seeing this rapid reduction in the time gap Uzbekistan pulled their riders off the front leaving just Kayne chasing. We had no choice but to add Blake Hose to the chase. I went back through the group to try to drum up some help from other teams. The Uzbeks were happy with a 2min time gap and were confident to contend GC on tomorrow’s much harder stage. I went to Harrif Salleh and asked for help. He is one of the fasted sprinters in the bunch and I knew he would be keen for a bunch kick. He sent three of his riders to the front. Now the break was coming back again and we had them caught with 8km to go. Harrif Salleh’s team maintained the pace to try to stop any attacks getting away. Up a small ride with 4km to go a rider hit off the front. I felt good and followed which caused a reaction from the yellow jersey who came across and dragged the rest of the peleton back on as we crested. It was clear at this point that we were in for a bunch kick. Aj was in good position with 3km to go and the best we could do for him was to keep the pace high. I came over Blake with 2km to go and rode the next kilometer until I was swamped by an Uzbek train but AJ was in 5th wheel and looking good. He hit over the top of the train with 300m to go just before a 90 degree left hand turn. No one could follow his kick out of the corner and he took the stage.

Stage 2.

Yesterday I said we would redeem ourselves today and I am glad to say that today we did. Pure Black had the yellow jersey the pressure was on them to defend it. We were very happy to see a small break go and let Pure Black ride the front to control the gap. The break went 10km into the 146km stage and it was going to be a long hot day for both the riders in the break and Pure Black. The course had 2 cat 4 climbs at 66km and 129km. The first climb was an anticlimax the whole peleton made it over with little trouble. At the 100km point things started to get a bit more interesting.

The break had a gap of 2 minutes and was only 2 men strong but the Pure Black chase was fading. They were looking very tired and the heat was getting the better of them until they only had 2 riders and at some points only 1 rider left chasing. Suren cycling put 2 more into the chase and lifted the tempo. At the base of the final climb we were only 40s behind the leaders. Our plan was for me and Johno Lovelock to ride a hard tempo up the 2km climb in an attempt to drop the sprinters and also to isolate the yellow jersey. The plan worked perfectly. Torkcler hit out as we crested but was quickly pulled back in. At this point we were in an ideal situation. We had 4 riders (Nathan, Blake, Johno and I) in a group of 20 and the Torkcler was isolated. The attacks started and we covered everything while Nathan watched out for Torkcler and tried to keep as fresh as possible.

The aim at this point was to make Torkcler chase and tire out the other riders. With 10km to go AJ managed to re join the front group. Our good situation just got better as we now had our fasted rider in the break. We kept covering moves making sure the pace stayed high. I found myself on the front with 2km left to ride and looked back to see AJ in good position and waving me on. I put my head down and road. In this situation the best thing for AJ is for me to keep the pace as high as possible to stop him from getting swamped. I started to fade with 1km to go and Johno took up the front. With less than 1km to go Torkcler hit out and Nathan was on his wheel. They gapped the peleton and as Torkcler started to fade Nathan hit over him. No one could match his turn of speed and he took out the win convincingly. So after yesterday’s debarkle we all breathed a great sigh of relief. It was a great team ride that required all 6 riders to create the final result.

Stage 1.

Today was a short fairly flat 103km stage. It should have been a straight forward process of making sure we were in any serious move and letting anything not so dangerous go to chase it down later for a bunch kick. The first 20km went along in the usual super aggressive Asian style. We were represented in all the moves and looked strong. Then it all went pear shaped. A little break containing a dangerous rider from Pure Black Racing and Suren Cycling went down the road and dangled at about 30s for the next 15km while the peloton maintained momentum from continuous attacks. At this stage we weren’t particularly concerned with the situation not realising just who was down the road. The aggression came out of the main field and we had to put Kayne Walker on the front to ride a tempo to manage the gap with only one Plan rider helping him out the gap went out to 1 min 40s.

At this stage and with only 50km of racing left we started to try to recruit some help from other teams. We only managed to get 2 other riders riding through and put Blake Hose on the front to help Kayne out. With 25km left the gap was still at 1min 20s and it was time to shut it down. Johno Lovelock and I went to the front and lifted the tempo. We had some sporadic help from Plan B and a few others. Blake and Kayne were both cooked after their efforts on the front and started to fade. With 8km left to race we caught one rider but there was still a 55s gap to Pure Black. Luckily for us Suren sent two strong riders to the front to help with the chase.

In the last 5km it was just three of us (2 Suren and me) working to bring back the one remaining riding. He was in sight and we were coming at him fast. With 600m to go I was on the front and he was within striking distance when the sprinters started to line up. At this point I was totally cooked and just focused on keeping it upright as the crazy kamikaze style sprint began. Aj was in good position but got swamped in the last corner. He still managed to claim 6th. In an incredible ride by Michael Torkcler after spending the whole day out the front he managed to hold on for the win while his team mates claimed 2nd and 3rd. Today the big mistake was not having representation in such a strong break. We are all looking forward to redeeming ourselves tomorrow.

 

26th April Pre race

We arrived at our hotel late yesterday afternoon. It was a one and a half hour bus ride from Tawau airport to Semporna and we saw nothing but palm plantations. Malaysia turned on the weather for our arrival with constant rain all afternoon which put a nail in our plans to go for a ride. Instead there was a 45min session on the hotels exercise bikes. They are the kind of bikes with massive, wide seats and a ridiculous Q-factor so not ideal but a nice way to loosen the legs up after travel.

Today started at 8am with the usual Asian style buffet breakfast of omelet and fried rice. I wasn’t brave enough to sample some of the more interesting and unusual breakfast offerings such as the rice porridge with dried fish. After breakfast we were straight out on the bikes for a short ride. We found a nice loop to ride that took us through yet more palm plantations. The local people are very friendly and excited to have an event in their town. It was a nice change to have cars pull over to take a photo rather than yell abuse. After the pleasant ride we all had a much a less pleasant ice bath to get through. Tonight there is the usual team presentation and tomorrow the racing starts with a  flat 103km. I’m looking forward to getting into some fast paced Asian racing.

 

 

 

Tour Of Mersey Valley – Tasmania   LINK

Stage 1.
Stage one of the Mersey Valley tour is a 22km out and back individual time trial. It is a rolling course on dead roads. There was a misty rain hanging around that made for a miserable setting but there was almost no wind. I struggled a bit and just tried to hold a reasonable power output. Towards the end I started to fade as I had gone out slightly too hard but still managed to place 11th.

Stage 2.
Stage two was a 92km road race on very difficult course that took in 3 substantial climbs. The first climb was at about 10km. The field road up the climb solidly but no dangerous attacks went. On the following section many attacks went and a number of breaks went with Genesys represented in all of them with Joel, Nathan, Blake, Lovelock and me being attentive at the front. Finally a move of 15 got away with Nathan and me in it. Cupid from Budget forklifts who was high up on general classification was also there with 2 of his team mates and Drapac had a number guys in the break so Nathan and I sat on and watched for attacks. Mark Obrien also from Budget forklifts made and incredible effort to leave the peleton and bridge to the break solo before we hit the final climb to the hilltop finish. Right from the base of the climb he and Cupid set a hard pace that broke up the small remaining group. Nathan was able to go with Cupid but Obrien rode away. I was with one other rider and just of the pace set by Nathan and Cupid. In this oder we rode the entire with Nathan slowly pulling Obrien back. Nathan eventually popped Cupid and I started to reel him in but couldn’t get him in the end. Nathan finished second and I came in fifth after being out sprinted by for 4th.

Stage 3:
Stage 3 of Mersey Valley tour was took in three circuits of a challenging circuit with a nasty 3km climb that hit 20 percent at the base. After three laps we headed back into the finishing town via a steady 3km climb. The conditions were tough with almost constant rain. Today the aim was to put Budget under pressure by sending moves down the road early. Aj made his way into an early move and Budget took up the chase setting a solid tempo. They pulled the break back by the end of the first lap when another small move went away. This time we weren’t represented but as Budget took up the chase there was no need to panic. Each time up the hill the bunch got smaller and smaller. The final time on the circuit Nathan Earl hit out up the climb and split the bunch to pieces. After a scrabble over the top a small bunch formed but Budget still had seven riders left and took up the chase again to bring in the break. We caught the break at the base of the final climb with about 10km to go and again Nathan hit out and took a small group away. I was in the second group on the road over the top of the climb with 3 other team mates. We worked hard to catch a few crucial GC riders in no mans land and then set up for the finish. No one was able to produce anything in the finish and I came in at the back of the bunch. Nathan produced a great ride to beat the riders in his break and take out the stage.

It was a tough tour with Budget forklifts fielding a strong team. The final results are yet to be confirmed but I believe Nathan came 3rd and I was 4th on GC.