Report by Cycling Australia Under 23 Coach, James Victor
A simple plan today - get one of two options in the break to relieve the pressure on the rest of the team, and if it all comes back together, set up our best finishing option for the final climb and podium.
The boys had before them a 14km circuit completed 12 times (176km) with a deviation at two kilometres to go. The final climb of 1.5km was at 6% - the only time in the race.
Trofeo Briga Novarese is a race we have typically not done overly well in, having finished outside the top 10 for the past four editions. In contrast, team Zalf Euromobil Desiree (ITA) has had an amazing number of victories in Italy this year and has won this race nearly every year since our participation.
We travelled to the race on Tuesday (only 40km from our AIS E.T.C., Gavirate base) to go over the circuit and final climb with most of the team having not seen the circuit and finish before.
This exercise proved to be invaluable.
A timely thank you to the support from the A.I.S. European Training Centre (ETC) staff who came out to the race for a grandstand view and vocal contribution.
The E.T.C. is becoming a valuable support mechanism for our Italian-domicilmatted athletes and the support staff today enjoyed a unique opportunity to witness how their contribution benefits our season.
Caleb Ewan had just returned from the Commonwealth Games road race and needed to do some work to be ready for his debut with Orica GreenEdge in London this Sunday, August 8, 2014.
Sam Spokes joined the team again after a successful week at the Tour of Alsace where he helped to secure victory for his Etixx teammate over Jack Haig.
Robert Power was coming off some strong form at the Tour Alsace and is noted for his 'power' uphill. Rob had recovered well from Alsace and was looking forward to a big month of racing ahead.
Robert McCarthy was returning from an injury sustained on stage 1 in Alsace and looking forward to racing again.
Alex Clements has recovered well this week from Alsace and looking for more opportunities to show his good form.
Campbell Flakemore has been a little run down from his solid work in Alsace so still recovering from a head cold and working towards some good form over the next month.
Harry Carpenter is slowly recovering from a virus over the past month but returning to some solid form.
Jack Haig sustained a small injury in his last stage crash in Alsace and for precautionary reasons missed the race. Jack should be right to race again for our next event on Sunday in Poggiana.
So... back to the race.
We had planned to cover team Zalf for most of the race due to their ongoing 'frustrating' success here.
However Caleb found himself following a move early (first three kilometres) to put himself and Harry Carpenter in the lead group of 13 before the end of the first lap…. With 162km to go.
This wasn't planned for Caleb but turned out to be valuable for the rest of the team and his preparations.
Both of the Harry and Caleb survived well and relieved any pressure and chasing required from the rest of our crew. Represented in the break were most of the strong teams as well as two from Zalf and us.
As the distance progressed the gap never pushed out to more than three minutes, leaving the chasing to the smaller teams not represented in the break.
As the distance took it's toll, Caleb continued with a group of four in front and with 60km to go, the remainder of the break returned back to the peloton.
Caleb finally cracked with 30km to go, leaving the lead group down to two with the bunch beginning to increase the tempo and reduce the time gap significantly.
Our remaining guys were positioned well in the chase group, marking the Zalf team's predictable lineout over the concluding stages of the race.
With three kilometres to go, Zalf had their seven remaining riders going full gas with the rest of the peloton, pushing hard for a good position onto the final climb.
At the deviation at two kilometres to go, the riders hit the final climb, and at 1.5 kilometres to go, Robert Power was taking a couple of risks to get through the peloton on the left side and closer to the back of the 'Zalf train', with Sam Spokes not too far away working up the right side.
Zalf were setting to repeat their previous wins here when Rob took an opportunity at 800 metres to go and 'powered' up the outside (and sucked a few Zalf helmets off on the way through)!
Robert had two Zalf riders chasing hard on his wheel, with one Zalf rider sprinting past Rob at 400 metres to go. But Rob still had plenty left in the tank and accelerated again to win by 10 metres – enough time to celebrate!
The win is a credit to his hard work and climbing ability.
It was a fantastic effort by the whole team to finally seal this win that they had worked very hard for.