This year I decided to have a crack at my first ever Road National Championship. I’d only raced on the road twice in the 8 years prior to Nationals so while I was lacking a bit of road experience over the top guys, I was still full of confidence. Trek sent me out a brand new Emonda SLR as well which was the perfect bike to race a championship event on, it felt so damn fast out of the box!
I arrived a couple of days early to check out the course which I was pleasantly surprised with. The elite men’s course was 175km total with 4 laps of about a 43km long lap. The first half of the course was lumpy and featured a moderately steep 4-minute climb and the second half was pretty flat.
The race started at a solid tempo but quickly turned scrappy as we neared the end of the first lap and into the second. I felt strong and drove the pace from the bunch over the main climb on lap 2, stringing the pack out. Although the main pack was starting to splinter it soon came back together and there were a few small attacks where people were just testing the waters. At one point I looked up and saw George Bennett and Michael Vink just up the road and watched Aaron Gate jump across to join them. I made the quick decision looking around at the others that I was right to stay with the main bunch. It seemed too early for the move to stick against such a large bunch with a lot of good riders in it, and once I’d realized that they just might stay away it was too late to do anything about it.
Looking back, I think I underestimated just how many riders were hurting in the main group and also how many of the riders in the bunch were intent on shutting the chase down as they had a team mate up the road. It was very frustrating to know the chance at the win had been shut down before the race was even at the halfway point, but I only had myself to blame for not recognising the danger of the move that went and I spent the race kicking myself for it! Nevertheless, I kept trying to organise the chase and push on to the end. Eventually finishing in 16th position.
I take a lot of confidence from how I felt in the race and I really enjoyed testing myself against the very best road riders in the country. I’ll be back next year for another crack and look forward to including a few more road races as part of my training in the future.