October 14/06 9:09 am - Herald Sun Tour Final Report
Posted by Editor on 10/14/06
Herald Sun Tour - Australia
Our local eyes and ears, Monique Hanley, was at the final stage of the Herald Sun Tour today in Melbourne, and has sent in a report and interveiws with the Canadians.
The final stage of the Herald Sun Tour resulted in one of the closest Tour finishes ever, with the overall leadership not resolved until the very final sprint of the day. 2005 winner and AG2R Pro Tour rider Simon Gerrans scraped through to third place, giving him a precious four second bonus, which was the final difference between his claim on victory and second place. The latter went to overnight race leader Chris Jongewaard, who had impressed many with his transition from World Mountain Bike Championship representative to Tour team and overall leader.
Behind the chase for overall honours, the Canadian National Team fought to maintain their fifth position on GC, held by Dominique Rollin. Riding the Herald Sun Tour with co-sponsor and local bike store chain Bicycle Superstore, Rollin had missed an early break containing the majority of the top ten GC riders. Of even greater threat in the break was sixth placed Discovery Channel rider Trent Lowe, only thirteen second behind Rollin on GC. The Canadian National Team joined forces with the Navigators Team who were also missing their lead man Phil Zajicek from the front move.
The break was in the process of forming when Ryan MacKenzie was involved in an early fall, causing a further split in the bunch. 'On the second corner I was coming through and just brushed off the line a bit,' explained MacKenzie. 'I was sitting in fourth position, but Simon Gerrans came up on my inside and hit bars with me. Six of the guys that went down in the crash were allowed to jump in with the break, but they threw me back in with the pack which was a bit of a bummer.' MacKenzie had little time to recover as the entire Canadian squad worked to bring the break back. 'We were really happy with our effort as it was a strong break, pretty much eight of the top ten on GC were in the break except for Dom and Zajicek, so our team and Navigators really chased that down and brought it back to let Dom finish.'
Rollin was able to find a strong run home to finish the stage in 9th position. 'It was a hard race and I just had to hold on and avoid the gaps forming between the riders,' Rollin described afterwards. 'But it was a nice course. There were one or two tough corners which made it hard and fun.'
The week before arriving in Australia, Rollin signed with North America outfit Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada for 2007. After spending most of the year with French team Velo Club Roubaix, Rollin was keen for a change of racing style located closer to home. 'I just wanted to experience the North American circuits and to see what they are like, and to be a bit more at home. Also next year there are two main races in Quebec: Montreal-Boston and Tour de Beauce and these are two of my big goals so I want to be up there and ready for them.'
Velo Club Roubaix is based at the Roubaix velodrome, famous for its role as the finish of the Paris-Roubaix. 'The year went good, and I was doing well in the professional races, but I was having problems with the amateur racing because it is raced so different- more luck than just power and skills, it was more of a gamble when you raced them. Its not my style any more, and I needed to make the step to the professional level, and I think the North American circuit will suit me a bit better than the European one for the moment.'
Post Race Comments 2006 Herald Sun Tour Stage 7
Bicycle Superstore Canadian National Team
On how he thought the final stage of the Herald Sun Tour went:
I went hard. It was a tough race, it started pretty fast and then the break went away (containing) Trent Lowe. Since he was only thirteen seconds behind me (on GC) we had to work. We helped the Navigators team (top GC contender Zajicek had also missed the break) to bring it back and luckily half way through the race we made the bridge and everything went well after that. But it was a hard race and I just had to hold on and avoid the gaps forming between the riders.
On how he found the course:
It was a nice course. There were one or two tough corners which makes it hard and fun.
On his plans for 2007:
Yes I signed (with Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada) the week before I arrived here for the Tour.
On the motivation behind signing with the North America outfit:
Mostly being closer to home and a different style of racing. I just wanted to experience the North American circuits and to see what its like and to be a bit more at home. Also next year there are two main races in Quebec: Montreal-Boston and Tour de Beauce and these are two of my big goals so I want to be up there and ready for them.
This year I was racing for Velo Club Roubaix. The team is based at the velodrome where Paris-Roubaix finishes, so I was staying there for the whole year. It went good, and I was doing well in the Pro races, but I was having problems with the amateur racing because it is raced so different- more luck than just power and skills. It was more of a gamble when you raced them. Its not my style any more, and I needed to make the step to the Pro level, and I think the North American circuit will suit me a bit better than the European one for the moment.
On what his role will be for Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada:
So far it hasn't really been discussed, but I think it will be in a leading role and also in a sprint role. Since what I have shown this week (5th on GC) I might be in more of a leading role in some of the stage races, such as the Tour de Georgia and Tour of California, or perhaps a sprinting role in them. This week was important to show how I can go as I haven't really raced in a professional team at that kind of level before, but I think it suits me and I can certainly be amongst it.
On his crash:
On the second corner I was coming through and just brushed off the line a bit. I was sitting in fourth position, but Simon Gerrans came up on my inside and hit bars with me, and this kind of stuffed everything up.
I jumped back in, but the incident made it a different race after that. Six of the guys that went down in the crash were allowed to jump in with the break, but they threw me back in with the pack which was a bit of a bummer. At the time of the crash the break hadn't established, but it was in the process of forming.
But I didn't get hit by anyone and everyone who went down were okay. No chain rings in my forehead or anything.
Once the break went the whole team worked hard to bring that break back. We were really happy with the effort as it was a strong break, pretty much eight of the top ten on GC were in the break except for Dom and Zajicek, so our team and Navigators really chased that down and brought it back to let Dom finish.
Trent (Lowe) was also in the break and being so close behind Dom (on GC) we had to bring that back so we could hold onto our fifth place.
Its been a fantastic tour, its been a real hard one and we took it on the chin on the first road stage when a group of sixteen went up the road. Brandon (Crichton) had crashed the day before and I was doing everything I could to cover the moves, and finally Dom got into that split, and although it wasn't ideal for us there was no way we could pull the break back. After that we've been riding in support of Dominique as much as we could and trying to put guys in all of the moves. We had one egg in the basket, and we've just protected that egg all week long. Dom had a great ride in the TT to finish fifth, and really that was the best we could hope for.
On his aspirations for the Tour:
I had higher aspirations coming into the Tour, but I took a pretty hard crash the week before I came down here. I almost didn't come down here - I had chipped my elbow and buggered my hip up pretty good. I knew I was going to struggle a little bit, but I tried to minimize my losses as best I could and I think with the seven of us down here I think we put in a pretty good performance.
Today, with Trent Lowe up the road in the breakaway that was dangerous for us so we did everything we could to bring that back, and after that we just survived the best we could.
We might have one more race in Okinawa - just waiting on confirmation of that, but if not I might just shut it down for the rest of the year.
I am back with the Symmetrics team in 2007. (Symmetrics teammate) Brandon and I are down here but the others are in Mexico so the team is racing on all sides of the world. We've just had a new sponsor come in to the team: Close Capital Savings which will really help us with our budget, so it is looking really good for 2007.