We had a mass start for C (my grade), D and all of the women and girls. The first few km was neutralised.
Having worked myself up into a good position about 5 from the front, I thought I was in the right spot for the real racing to start. With a couple of hundred metres to go 'till the turn, dozens and dozens of riders came streaming past, suddenly putting me toward the back of the field and boxed in. The moment we turned it was on, the field smashing to pieces. I had to ride around riders and latch back onto the field several times before yet another gap opened up. To make matters worse there was no right spot to be. With a nasty right to left cross wind, it would have been good to ride the gutter. This, however, was broken and pot-holed, bringing down a couple of riders and seeing heaps of them riding off into the gravel.
Eventually, I just couldn't bridge the gaps any more and saw the main bunch riding off into the distance. Slowly we built up a little bunch of riders being shed from the front and found a few who were willing to work. We chased that bunch so hard for 40k, getting to within a 100m a few times, but just couldn't cross that last little bit.
I had a good finish within my little gruppeto, powering it to the line over the last few km and chasing down a couple attempted breaks. The good news was that I was able to power the group enough that it broke up quite substantially and I didn't get washed over by a pile of big legged sprinters at the line. So I'm learning something.
It was a great workout for a flat race. My heartrate monitor tells me I was working harder for that 75km than for the climb up Hotham last weekend. Once the race started in earnest, we covered the last 70 odd km at better than 40kph! This race was the first time I've used my fast race wheels with the new 12-21 cassette, it worked really well, allowing me to find the perfect gear, all the time. Even the hideous dead roads around Shep didn't seem too bad with 130psi in the tyres.
The race was really well run and organised with a really solid rolling road closure. This allowed for some interesting work through a few tricky corners but they had been well cleaned up to allow a fast racing line.
I'm sad that I really spoiled my race by getting caught out of position at the first jump. I'm sure I could have stayed with the front group if I hadn't stuffed that up but it's something to learn for next time.
Now bring on the hills!