News for March 28, 1999

Australian Women's Road Race Championship, 108 kms, March 27

The Australian Women's Road Race Championship was held on the Gold Coast in Queensland over a distance of 108 kms which involved 9 laps of of a course near a large dam in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Despite written requests to Cycling Australia to fax or email results of major events to and repeated statements from CA executives that this site is operating to the detriment of Australian cycling by criticising CA's lack of responsiveness to my requests, once again - no results! They just don't get it. I have also been excluded from email lists from CA team managers and will find it hard keeping you updated with Australian team news over 1999. Anyway, we (Martin Hardie and did some ringing around we were able to find out the following information.

29-year old Canberra-based rider Tracey Gaudry, who recently won the Tour de Snowy, was again in great form when she won the Road Championship. She attacked with Kathy Watt on lap 7 and the two were never threatened. Gaudry made the final move in the sprint and Watt was unable to come round her. They finished more than 3 minutes in front of the next group.

 1. Tracey Gaudry (ACT)                   3.18.26
 2. Kathy Watt (Vic)
 3. Alison Wright (ACT)
 4. Emma James (NSW)
 5. Sara Carrigan (Qld)
 6. Natalie Bates (NSW)
 7. Bridget Evans (Qld)
 8. Bronwen Biggs (Qld)
 9. Lyn Nixon (WA)
10. Kellie McCombie (WA)

TVM to meet with Jean-Marie Leblanc

The decision by the Société du Tour de France to ban the TVM team from the Waalse Pijl (Fleche Wallone) is apparently attributed to the alleged statements made by TVM manager Steven Rooks about his attitudes to doping. Rooks was quoted earlier in the year, before taking over the job at TVM, that he thought the only thing that a rider need to do was to avoid testing positive.

Société du Tour Director Jean-Marie Leblanc said via a press agent that they were concerned with the statements by Rooks. He said: "Rooks has said that it is more important for riders to avoid testing positive than it is to stamp out doping. That is a small thing but it is big enough in our minds to stop TVM from competing in our events."

Rooks replied that: "In December a Dutch newspaper reported opinions I was alleged to have over EPO. I did not say the things they attributed to me. I was wrongly cited but the French newspapers then went and used that material without asking me if it was true."

The TVM manager told the Société du Tour de France last month that the statements attributed to him were not correct. Rooks said: "I have written to them to tell them about this and this Leblanc knows where I sit. I find this whole matter disturbing."

Overall team manager Cees Priem will meet with Jean-Marie Leblanc at the end of next week to clear up the Rook's matter. Also he will seek recognition that Leblanc received the letter from TVM.

Priem thinks there is still a chance that the team will start at the Waalse Pijl on Wednesday April 15. He said: "I have worked with Leblanc for 15 years and have never had any problems with him. I am hopeful that we will be able to come together next week."

Rabobank stays calm over doping allegations

The team managers of the Rabobank team have remained calm over the allegations by French rider Jean-Cyril Robin that their riders are guilty of illegal doping practices. Robin spoke in an interview with the French newspaper, France-Soir about his doubts about the recent successes of the Rabobank riders and the win by Michael Boogerd in Paris-Nice.

Adrie van Houwelingen, the manager of the team during Paris-Nice, said: "We have seen the article. Anyone can make such claims for their own attempt at fame. It is well-known now that there has been an association with banned substances and cycling. But it is is also known that Rabobank would break its association with the sport if any of our riders were involved in this. There is nothing at all to say."

In the interview, Robin recalled Milan-San Remo. In the finale of the first classic of the season there were several Rabobank riders making a strong impact on the race. According to Robin, this was the same at Paris-Nice and their superiority was noticable to all the other teams.

Van Houwelingen said: "We are having a very good season so far. And we have a very strong squad this year. That explains our results. It has nothing to do with banned substances."

Chiapucci signs

36-year old Claudio Chiappucci has finally signed with the Swiss team Amica Chips and will finish his career at the end of the season.

He has meanwhile been pursuing his own cycling brand in cooperation with Maurizio Fondriest.

Chiappucci dreams of another ride in the Tour de France where he made his mark 9 years ago. He said: "I have heard that TVM will not be invited to the Tour de France this year. Perhaps that will give my own team a chance with riders like Armand de las Cuevas, Stefano Della Santa and the Russians Evgeny Berzin and Viatcheslav Ekimov."

Chiappucci himself has been suspended twice from racing because he recorded hematocrit levels in excess of those permitted by the UCI.

The Team Acceptcard situation in Latin America

Lars Mikkelsen from Denmark has been doing some digging about the Team Acceptcard situation which seemed to become ugly during the Tour of Argentina. He writes that the conflict started during the prologue. I don't know whether you noticed, but after having been within 3 seconds from taking the prologue stage Malaysia, AcceptCard's Michael Andersson threw close to 3 minutes on 4.5 km. and came in last. Absurd!

The conditions in Argentina were absolutely chaotic and already then the rumour of AcceptCard's withdrawal, not only from the race, but also from "The Tour of Chile" (same organisers).

As soon as the possibility had been announced details about the situation started to leak. I got my explanation on the weird prologue. Michael Andersson had been forced to ride basically the entire distance on a flat tyre, no service had been available, so he had to grit his teeth and go on. As for a car on the "real" stages, Brian Holm seemed to have been unlucky. Some got cars with, and others without drivers. Brian got one with a driver, and now and then that driver had his own ideas about where to go, and when. The riders made their own demonstration on stage 4 - which was shortened from 160 kms to 80 kms - about the excessive travelling between stages and the general conditions they faced.

An example on the actual situation has been given by Kim Andersen (Team Chicky World) when the riders had to get up at 6 am to be transported 80 kms to the starting point. After the race another trip, this one 400 kms long awaited the tired riders and when they finally arrived at their hotel at 1 am they had to go to bed without anything to eat.

What finally broke the camel's back was when a passenger on a motorbike hit Brian Holm in the chest. The decision to quit was taken on the Monday evening and though AcceptCard had Joona Laukka among the three riders with a more than possible chance of winning the race and Michael Andersson leading the mountain competition the organizers could not persuade the team to stay. The Danish press called their attempts bribery. The team did not start and after haggling was finally given transportation to the airport and tickets back home. About the time the decision to leave was taken, Brian Holm told that a formal complaint over the organization of the race would be given to UCI including 26 specific complaints.

Report from America

Harm Jansen and Pelle Kil are two Dutch riders who are racing in the USA this year. Australian's will be familiar with them as they have raced here in recent years during our Summer of Cycling series. Harm was the team captain and Pelle a member of the Mt Buller Team for our most recent summer series. Both are also hoping to ride the Bank race this year with the same team (which included Franky Van Haesenbroeke Roberto Gaggioli and Cameron Hughes). The team manager was Martin Hardie, who writes for on occassions. You can read his Tour of Tasmania report below.

Harm is keeping me updated on their progress during the USA season. The first report comes from the Sequoia Classic in California.

Sequoia Classic - the classic consists out of a 150 mile road race on a truly beautiful course (a 1.6 km climb and a short 0.8 km climb every lap, 12 laps total) on Saturday, followed by a 50 kms criterium the next day. Weather conditions were warm and sunny.

March 13, Sequoia Classic Road Race.

Riders were either hurting or going great after last week's Redlands classic. There was no in between. Most of the Team SmarTalk members were suffering from colds as many other riders were. Pelle did a respectable job by representing the team in today's deciding break away, but being just recovered from a bug, he cramped when the 16 riders dashed for the line. Slightly ahead was Mercury's Kirk Willet, taking the win from Shaklee's Erik Wohlberg (Can). Pelle took 16th. Harm managed to take 23rd.

March 14, Sequoia Classic Criterium.

Very short course, 6 turns, 165 riders and lots of premes. Says enough, today's race was a mad house. Harm and David were in the front all day taking turns in snatching away the big primes. On this fast course a bunch sprint is the tradition. With no team being able to give a lead out, many riders had the opportunity to come to the front, making it even crazier towards the end. America's fastest sprinters came four abreast through the last turn. It wasn't the younger generation that took up the podium spots. Gord Fraser (Can, Mercury, 30) showed he could finish off without the help of his team mates, Miller (NZ, Shaklee, 38) took second while Gaggioli (Ita, Defeet, 37) took third. Team SmarTalk took two top 10 placings with David in 7th with Harm in 10th.

Sea Otter Classic

Harm and Pelle put the hurt down on the field in Sea Otter, a 2.5 UCI stage race with an international field. The very active duo had in Pelle a near miss for a stage win and in Harm a podium appearance. Weather conditions: bad. Course: hard (hilly). 156 starters.

March 18, 8 kms Prologue, Monterey CA.

Trent Klasna (Navigators) repeated his success from last year with his second consecutive win in the Seaotters classic's prologue. Followed shortly by McCormack (Saturn) and Wohlberg (CAN, Shaklee), the prologue was only the beginning of this 3 day race. All the SmarTalk boys put down respectable times, but no top 10 placings.

March 19, 165 kms Road Race, Laguna CA.

Rain, wind and cold. Together with a grueling course, only the strongest riders would survive in today's competition. It was marked by an early break away of eight, formed 32 kms after the start. Pelle reacted and was the last rider trying to bridge. But this escaped group had put their efforts together and steadily pulled away from the bunch and Pelle. Mercury (Clinger, Moninger, Fraser) and Saturn (Leipheimer, McCormack) had their GC riders up front, forcing Shaklee and Navigators to chase. However, the break managed to keep a 1min40 lead. When the 30 man peloton stopped chasing (50 kms to go) Harm and Pelle launched a two man attack and were accompanied by Waskevich (POL, Mroz). This trio closed in to 40 seconds of the break but couldn't come across. When caught, Harm launched another attack with Traversoni (Ita, Saeco). Accompanied by 8 more riders just before the finish, Harm ended up 14th while Pelle took 23rd. David McCook finished while Roberto Gaggioli (mechanical defect) was forced to abandon. Frank McCormack takes the lead in the overall.

March 20, 80 kms Circuit Race (20 laps), Laguna CA.

Again rain, again cold and again a hard course (steep hill). Coming towards the final of this stage, a 7 man break was leading by 45 seconds when Harm and Pelle launched their two man attack going up the steep hill. This effort made all teams chase and brought the break back to a non threatening 15 second lead. When this break was caught Team Mercury started leading out their sprinter Fraser. A brave Pelle attacked again on the hill in the last lap. Mashing an impressive gear, Pelle took a 10 second lead before plunging down the steep, slippery downhill. Mercury had to dig deep to bring back the unleashed Pelle. They succeeded only a 0.8 kms before the finish, and then had to leave their sprinter unprotected from there on. Harm was their to take over and powered to a podium spot taking (3rd)!!! Traversoni (ITA Saeco), Cippolini's first lead out man, won the sprint of the 20 riders left in this race. Mark McCormack (Saturn) came in 2nd. The man of the season so far, Frank McCormack (Saturn) took the overall GC in the Sea Otter classic. Fraser (Mercury) took second while Saturn completed their successful weekend with Leipheimer in 3rd. Harm took 16th and Pelle 22nd.

A Tour of Tasmania, January 27-31, 1999

Finally, we can publish Martin Hardie's account as team manager of the Mt. Buller Team during the Tour of Tasmania.

In late December 1998 I left my home in Darwin with the intention of taking a short break from my legal practice, to do some training and watch a few bike races. I arrived in Williamstown in early January without any real plans other than to pass results to and to catch up with a few friends I had made in my recent years of cycling. I was not flush with cash and only had a promise from Tom Leaper that we would sort something out regarding food and accommodation.

During that first week of the Summer of Cycling I made a number of new friends and by the end of the week found myself managing the Abom Mt Buller team of Harm Jansen (Ned), Pelle Kil (Ned), Franky Van Haesenbroeke (Bel), Roberto Gaggioli (Ita) and Cameron Hughes (Qld) for the Mt Buller Cup. With that experience behind me I decided to accompany the team later that month to the Tour of Tasmania. Tasmania was more hectic than the holiday feeling of life at Mt Buller, a different hotel every night, daily manager's meetings, responding to the demands of the team, who after a month on the road were beginning to show a few stresses, phoning the results through to and the inevitable discussions with the Commissaires on and off the radio. My friends, who I had roped in as mechanic and masseur wondered what I had got them in to. How I could ever find this environment relaxing? They never did understand. With all of this I didn't have the time or distance to cover the race as a mere correspondent. I said to Martin V. afterwards that what he would probably get was part of the view that I could safely tell from the Abom Mt Buller team car. That is what I have tried to do: give some idea of what its like to be thrown in at the deep end managing a multinational team in a UCI event.

Day One Wednesday Devenport Prologue 8.1 kms

The course, a circuit from the East Devenport Football Ground was over undulating windswept dead roads. The strong sea breezes provided mostly cross and head winds for the riders save for the last 800 metres to the finish which was downhill. It followed a short sharp hill with a gradient reminiscent of a the Flemish bergs I've seen on video, but only 400 -500 metres long. The fastest time was set early by Nathan Clark from Tasmania. Cameron Hughes was the only Abom rider to take the ITT seriously finishing in 13th place. Nathan O'Neil surged past Gaggioli halfway through the course to be up with the leaders. Unfortunately the VIS team suffered from non-arrival of their bikes. Jamie Drew after three weeks of exceptional form (he was in every break that seemed to matter from Geelong, Mt Buller, the National Road Race at Portarlington where he was Vogel's only threat) seemed uncharacteristically distant after the mess up by the airline. One of the favourites for the Prologue, Tom Leaper finished 9th. He somehow still managed to set a good time riding my bike (the only one large enough for him) without his usual 53/11, but in the time available he couldn't get quite get used to my Campag groupo (push down the button to change up and just say shimaNO, Tom). Day One Nathan Clarke leading with Cadel Evans second place.

Day 2 Thursday Devenport - Launceston 149 kms

The destination today, Launcheston, as Franky Van Haesenbroeke would say. At times I found myself speaking some sort of clipped English different but not unlike the English you end up speaking after working in an Aboriginal community for too long - you tend to pick up some of the pronunciations or mispronunciations and phrases - "we go riding now" " Do you have the loader?" which was a reference to my mobile phone recharger.

The race radio gibberish was often broken by the unmistakable tones calm and sensible, the voice of Phil Liggett: "The results of the Sheffield Sprint were Number Four Nine, 49, Five Seven, 57,Four Zero, 40"; when everything else seemed to descend into chaos Liggett's voice, warm and calm was reassuring to say the least. He may not have been always right, but he was reliable and if he got it wrong he didn't mind being assisted with the correct information. Liggett's role was that of more than Channel Ten and Race commentator, when the judges were overloaded, or frustrations ran high he was the man you could rely on to have the figures as close to correct as possible or to crack that joke that reminded you that life goes on.

Contrary to his form at Geelong and Buller, Brendan Vesty took the early points in the KOM competition and as he did a few riders pulled the pin early, dropped off the back with the first climb of the tour. Our team seemed irreparably damaged here with Gaggioli and Van Haesenbroeke seemed lost for all the world after this first climb only 15kms into the stage. With that, a feeling passed through my body, one I don't like when driving the team car. I had to leave them behind somewhere on the road behind without my support for food or wheels and at the mercy of the vagaries of the race, with only the sag wagon to pick them up if they too pulled the pin.

As the numbers of those pulling out early were repeated over the radio I didn't hear those of Franky or Gagg, but I didn't really believe they would get back on the bunch that day. At one stage I drove up ( of course with permission of Chief Comm, George Nelson) to talk to Pelle Kil - he said they were experienced a nd professional enough to know what to do; but the gap seemed unbridgeable as I asked myself would we be down to three riders after just one road stage? How would Cameron get the help he needed as our GC rider with just Harm and Pelle to assist him?

At the same time as Gagg and Frankly were off the back, breaks were going off the front. Liggett: "the gap is 47seconds at 66kms, 7 riders away; but after 80kms all was back together. In the midst of this, with the convoy cars leaving gaps between each other, making it more difficult than usual for the riders to get back on the bunch, Gagg appeared and he was followed some time later, like a yo-yo, impeded by cars that should have known better, by the ever cool (well nearly) Franky. I thought at the time that this was an amazing effort from two riders I had left for dead some 80kms earlier. At times the breaks seemed to threaten to tear the race apart - Nathan Clarke was in a break at Deloraine but Nathan O'Neil and Cadel Evans were not, and then for some reason (dare you suggest collusion) other teams joined in the chase. The chase started to close the gap. At 132 km the break including our Cameron Hughes was at about 28sec after being out to nearly 40sec earlier, the gap near the last 2kms was brought back to 25sec and downhill to the finish outside the Casino in Launceston riders started to fall off the back of the bunch, the gap tumbled as the three teams on the front put down the hammer, Scott Davis and Cameron got away from the break as it was about to be caught with Cam on the front as they came to the finish. We would debate this all week: should he have sat on? Would they have been caught if he did? Did he sit up in the sprint? Definitely not. The group was only 3 seconds behind at the finish. Cameron was passed on the line by the Davis boy. In the end Day 2 saw the team intact with a 2nd place on the road. Scott Davis the stage winner, Cameron Hughes second, Matt Wilson third, Nathan Clarke still in yellow and Brendan Vesty leading the KOM.

Day 3 Friday Launceston to St Helens 163 kms

At about 6kms just after the red flag fell to signal the end of the neutral part of the stage Gagg ("why I do this") and Pelle decided it was time to attack. And attack they did. The peleton didn't seem concerned at all so the guys kept going. It was the start of one of the most eventful days I experienced in this summer of racing. We were kept busy in the team car: to the back of the peleton, confer with Harm Jansen, request permission to go up the road to the break of two, talk, feed, reassure them and then wait on the side of the road for the peleton to catch up; this we repeated four or five times over the next 100kms as Pelle commenced to amass KOM points that would see him hold the lead in that competition by the end of the day. First a Cat 2 climb then a Cat 3. Would they be able to stay away until Weldborough Pass, the final Cat 2 climb of the stage? Would the gap become too big and make the peleton nervous? By the time Harm told me to tell the guys to ease off and keep the gap at around 5 minutes, the gap had blown to nine and then eleven minutes.

We didn't want the reaction to start just yet. Over the first climb I had the gap figured at nine minutes. They kept going and we kept going back and forth. With only 20kms to go until the final KOM and then the undulating descent into St Helens the gap was starting to quickly fall. Gagg had tired just after the Derby sprint in spite of the Mars bars I had stopped to buy. He slipped back into the main field. I urged Pelle, consistent with Harm's instructions, to go on. We both knew he would be caught sooner rather than later but he went on keeping the peleton chasing. Over a climb which seemed a KOM itself that voice in the TV car whispered watch your mirrors. Pelle was finally caught just before the last KOM and all you could see in front, growing in stature were clouds, reminiscent of something I was used to in the tropics, big black and grey storm clouds. I asked myself: could we get the rain jackets out? Could we get them to the riders? Could we feed them all before the storm hit? No, was the answer, short and sweet, and again I knew I was about to experience that sickening feeling. Where in the hell were my team members? The feeling of a race splitting apart, riders, cars, radio all descending into an unfathomable state of chaos as we went through what Race Promoter, John Trevorrow described as the worst storm he had ever encountered in a road race. Phil Liggett said he had seen heavier rain but not for as long. I had seen this sort of thing in the tropics, but without the hail and cold. It hit as we went into the climb at Weldborough Pass and did not relent until the crossing was complete. The descent through hail, rain and cow manure at neck breaking speed seemed to go on forever. How could they ride so fast down hill in such conditions? How could we drive so fast? Riders came off, Nic Brown at the bottom, looking plaintively for a wheel. I couldn't see any members of the team as we passed people all over the shop, the radio crackled and was of no help. Tom Leaper had attacked going up, Harm went into overdrive as we went down: I learnt this all later.

Finally, we the convoy amassed behind a break. Cadel, Harm and others chased by a group of four, then another group of five. The race now spread out over 8kms. Cadel yelling "fuck off away from the break" to all the cars Comm 1, ours and the others, hoping for us to get away as the convoy was allowing the chasers to get across. There were cars trying to get to the finish, cars wanting to service riders, cars and bikes everywhere, the radio blaring, and cutting out, breaking up, managers seeking instructions, requests to the Chief Comm, seemed to get no reply. A maelstrom of confusion, adrenaline, rain, swearing, mud and excitement. This was the day I learnt to descend in a car the way I should descend on a bike. I don't get enough practice in Darwin for such a thing; take the corners lean and pray. But where were Franky, Gagg, Pelle and Cameron lost in the storm that ripped the race apart.

Later Cameron said "you passed me, I was nearly on the break didn't you see me? "Sorry mate I couldn't see a fucking thing, I just knew Harm was away and all the rest of you were behind". Franky was left on the side of the road with a rear puncture for 15 minutes in the hail. He laughed that night (never rely on anyone else to support your rider if you can help it, but how can you be 5 places at once). After Harm had taken the stage I went back in search of Franky and Gagg. Gagg with the Kiwis dressed in a brand new garbage bag, Franky further back. I fed them both, I told Franky "ten kilometres from the finish" and promised to buy Gagg hot chips to be ready at the finish line. I lied to Franky about the heated pool awaiting him in St Helens and felt in awe of all those who crossed the Weldborough Pass that day. Harm Jansen was first, Matt Wallace second, Tom Leaper third, Pelle Kil was leading the KOM and Sean Sullivan had taken over from his fellow Tasmanian as the Yellow Jersey.

Day 4 Saturday Swansea to Mt Wellington 163 kms

After the dramas of Day 3 the peleton rode tempo (32kphs for the first three hours). The TV was not happy: "we'll miss our deadline"; the Chief Comm was not happy: "I will reduce the prize money if they don't start racing". But we all knew that when we got to Hobart things would change, if not before ... . Neil Cleghorn drove Brendan Vesty up the hill to take the early KOM points, but Pelle was on his wheel. Just one point separated Pelle from Brendan with only Mt Wellington to go. We knew who would take that climb but what point would the others get? Even ninth place would give Vesty the jersey over Pelle.

Just after 110kms something happened, the race appeared to be continuing to cruise on as if by agreement. Suddenly, something happened and all hell broke loose. A little way before Richmond the road turns right. There were crosswinds and the VIS guys decided to start riding the gutter. Echelons formed, Harm had stopped for a piss and just as this all happened. Again I got that eerie feeling when you pass one of yours on the road. The next thing I knew was slamming on the brakes so I didn't run into Damien Grundy's car (Cadel's team Manager) He had braked for Carl Wilson (the Brumby's team manager) who had somehow taken out Luke Stockwell's back wheel after feeding him. Luke was on the ground, soon to be in the team car as the echelons began to form, the road turned right and the race split up. Was this a plan to upset Cadel's attack on the Mount? Only time would tell. At Richmond it seemed that the AIS/Motorola team were all in the sprint for points. Was that what it was about? An attempt to secure the Points Jersey for Scott Davis? Today's stage's crazy period, cars, bikes all over the place: was it triggered by the crosswinds? Or had it been planned? Whoever dreamt that one up had a great sense of drama. Davo, Stevo which one of you was it?

The bunch reformed shortly after and all was serene again until the expressway into Hobart. Harm punctured, we got him fixed and I had to do some crazy driving to get back to the convoy, then Trent Wilson attacked at the Tasman Bridge, soon to be followed by Jamie Drew and then Brendan Vesty. They were still away as the climb to Mt Wellington commenced in Davey Street just up from Constitution Dock (don't let anyone tell you Mt Wellington is a 12km climb its 21kms up from the centre of town). Jamie Drew and Vesty kept going until caught 10kms into the climb. Cadel was sitting in with the yellow jersey group, so too was Tom Leaper , Matt Wallace, Warren Jennings and our Cameron Hughes. Franky had pulled the pin earlier that day with knee problems, we passed Gagg, then Pelle, told him to keep it up, Vesty was up the road but Pelle could still hang on to the KOM jersey with luck. Cameron was still up in the Yellow Jersey group. Warren Jennings was off the front with ten kilometeres to go and as the group behind him passed Vesty and Cadel Evans jumped clear. Could the National ITT Champ hang on to the kid? They passed Warren Jennings and Matt Wallace; Cameron chased with Tom Leaper following. Tom caught Cameron and then fell away. Matt Wallace wasn't far behind Cameron on GC and so we had to minimise the gap. I put the team car beside or behind Cam, as close as we could get, and we yelled and encouraged: "just keep going champ, you can run Wallace down". We could see Stevo's van up ahead beyond Matt that meant Warren Jennings was not far. "Come on Cam, you can run them both down". Cadel and Nathan O'Neil continued to power on and to our left, we had 3kms to go, they had less than a kilometer, we could see them climbing to the finish, past the moonscape, the barren windswept landscape of Mt Wellington. Nathan had a go, Cadel got back on his wheel and with 500m to go Cadel went away. Cameron continued to gain on Matt Wallace, he got closer, Matt put in, we yelled and encouraged again, Cam put in and the gap was less than 50m at the finish. Cameron had held on to 3rd place on GC, 5th on the stage, now we had to wait and see where Vesty finished. He was out of the ten and Pelle was KOM. Cadel Evans won the stage and now was in yellow, Nathan O'Neill second and Warren Jennings third.

Day 5 Sunday Salamanca Place Criterium 1 hour

Dutchmen know how to ride crits we are told and the Dutchmen from Abom Mt Buller didn't let the crowd down. From the start the bunch was driven by Harm Jansen and Pelle Kil. Riders were going off the back after a couple of laps. I couldn't hear the cursing but I knew it was happening. You know the feeling the last day of a tour, legs and head are tired and a couple of smart Alecs launch into overdrive from the gun. The pace unrelenting until the finish. After a while Brad Davidson attacked and got a good half a lap on his own, he was followed by Harm, Alan Davis, Morgan Fox and Herb Donivan. The day's battle was between Alan Davis and Harm Jansen. Harm determined to gain enough points to pass Scott Davis in the points competition. Alan hell bent on protecting his brother's lead. In the end it came down to the photo, Harm by half a wheel at the most. The gap had been half a lap with only a handful to go, but it started to tumble with maybe only 40 metres with half a lap to go. Morgan Fox and Herb Donivan bit the tarmac on the penultimate, tight treacherous corner and from then on it was always going to be between Harm and Alan. Cadel held on to his lead with Nathan O'Neill second both content to sit in the bunch for the crit. Cameron Hughes held onto third on GC and the Abom Mt Buller multinational team had got itself the KOM jersey, the Points jersey, 3rd on GC and 2 stages. They had been the most attacking team of the tour, we had all become great friends in spite of our temperaments. We had our last supper for this summer of cycling at Mures on the dock in Hobart, eating food different to pasta for a change, drinking wine kindly supplied by the sponsors and looking forward to our next encounter together.

Don't believe that great racing exists only in Europe, the best racing I saw this summer was in Geelong, Mt Buller and Tasmania not Adelaide. It was fair and fast, some great moments Tom Leaper's sprint for second in the crit at Mt Buller, the precision of the VIS women, Karen Barrow setting up every day for Liz Tadich or Anna Wilson, Henk's victory at Portarlington and the epic crossing of Weldborough Pass. None of these had the crowds of sensational Adelaide, but races they were and it was a summer of cycling I would not have missed for the world.