I had my eye on Challenge Gold Coast as soon as it was announced earlier this year. This was not without an element of risk though, as it falls only 2 weeks prior to what is perhaps the biggest race of my season, 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant, Canada. Discussing with Tim we targeted the race as a potential last hard hit-out before dialling it back for worlds. We had discussed swimming and riding really hard and hopefully having a buffer to notch it back a little on the run to avoid the muscle damage that arises from 21 kilometers of pounding pavement. I was also eager to replenish my bank account to avoid potentially living off baked beans and mi goreng noodles after splashing ‘dat paper’ on a trip to the northern hemisphere.
Having already raced a fair bit this year, Tim was keen for me to focus on Mt Tremblant and use this race as a solid hit out to test where the form was at after just completing a decent training block. I was a little apprehensive, as I hadn’t really freshened up as I usually would before a race but given that Worlds is in 2 weeks I knew it was important to keep the training volume up. I had also been battling a chest infection for a couple of weeks which had also left me feeling a little flat, but I convinced myself that a few days of warmer tropical temps would put me back into good health and ready to go for the race.
Due to some unseasonal Gold Coast weather, the race organisers made the tough decision to reduce the bike leg from 90km down to 40km for safety reasons. I was initially disappointed with this call as I was eager to test out my current cycling form over the full 90km. However after riding the roads during the race I know the right decision was made as we weaved our way through moss covered roads that were treacherous to negotiate on a TT bike.
Race morning rolled around and the skies seemed to be clearing for what promised to be a great day, regardless of the course changes. Shane Barrie offered himself up as bull shark bait and left the rest of us in his wake as he opened up a handy lead in the opening stages of the swim. I was content to lead to chasers as we exited around 20 seconds in arrears.
Onto the bike, Tim obviously didn’t want to muck around as he sniffed an opportunity to break up the little pack that might form on the bike. Feeling quite sluggish I went with him for 10minutes before slowly dropping off the pace. I turned around and noticed that Casey Munro and myself was the only one able to respond to Reedy’s watt bomb. Tim managed to get about a 200m advantage but due to some shared work by myself and Casey we managed to claw back onto him by 20km. To give you some indication, at the 20km mark my average wattage was 330w. I was surprised to see a handy lead to the chase pack at the U turn as we set about our return journey. Casey unfortunately punctured not long after, which was disappointing for him after riding superbly.
After sloshing through the rapidly deteriorating transition we set about on the 21km run ahead of us. We got our first time gap after doing a little out and back section and I guessed we had about 3.5minutes to the chase guys. Tim wasn’t feeling that social and opened up a little gap before settling into his pace and I was left hovering about 30seconds in arrears as we completed the first of two laps. I noticed that Dave Mainwaring was moving quite well in 3rd and had eaten away at my advantage so I put in a sustained surge for about 15 minutes to really put the nail in the coffin, but this had also brought me within 10 seconds to Tim. This didn’t go unnoticed and he quickly crushed any thought of me sneaking into the lead as he increased his lead again to 30 seconds by the finish. The raced pretty much was executed perfectly from my pre race plan and I was happy to come away with 2nd with Dave consolidating 3rd with a swift run.
A huge congrats to Marcus and the guys from Challenge Australia for putting on such a fantastic event despite tumultuous conditions in the days leading up to the event. Also a huge thank you to my homestay Matt and Coleen for their exceptional hospitality over the course of my stay. Thanks also to my team Giant bikes, Shotz, Scody, Blue Seventy, Hawkesbury Physio, 3D Bike Fit, Rudy Project and echelon sports.
Next time I will be checking on from the USA!
Thanks for reading.