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Go Russ Go! The Russell Van Hout diary
Newly-crowned Australian road champ Russell Van Hout isn't here for a holiday. In the form of his life, he's come to the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under on a mission: to confirm his ability in a major stage race and convince selectors of his worth for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Join Cyclingnews as we embark on our week-long road trip with Russ.
Stage 5 - January 22, 2006
A dream run - but it ain't over
I didn't go bananas last night [a 'Legends' dinner was held for the bike riders - ed.]. After yesterday, I moved up to seventh on GC, third place in the king of the mountains and I was equal leader on the points classification, so I wasn't going to give up. It wasn't difficult to wait one more night to have a few drinks.
I'm happy with my tour, but it would have been good to come away with the sprint class. We did whatever we could, guys got up the road and took points for me, and coming up to the sprint, I knew the only one that could beat me was Alby in the end. I wasn't disappointed though - I never came into the tour to go for that one, so I'm happy to be there and come second.
For all of our team, it was so good to get up on the podium; we've all tried, everyone has done everything for the team, not for themselves. When teams are put together like that, it's always going to be a bit of risk - you can never guarantee it's going to be a good team. And this was just awesome: everyone just rode so well together; I think AG2R was a strong team - they did what they had to do - but I think we did what we had to do. We were probably the most aggressive team, putting everyone in breaks, never missed anything - every plan we made, we stuck to it and did it to the best of our ability. And ninety-five percent of the time, our plans paid off.
I've had an exceptional week or last couple of weeks. I'm really happy with what I've done; I've done everything I could to show them [the selectors] about what I want - second in the sprint comp, I've won a stage, seventh overall on the GC, state champion, national champion and fourth in the [national] time trial, I've just had a great start to the year... I really couldn't get much better.
Some have asked me whether I feel like I'm in different company with my peers; I haven't thought of it like that - my profile has raised a lot after this last week or so, but I'm still the same me... nothing's going to change. I've actually had a couple of phone calls from other teams; I sort of said, 'Well, make an offer' and they haven't. But that's not an interest of mine at the moment.
We'll know within a week about the [Commonwealth] Games, and I'll plan the program up from then. I'll probably have a few days of rest, put my legs up, have a lot of sleep and really recover from all the heat. Speaking about the heat, and Matt Lloyd's crash yesterday where he lost consciousness, it goes to show us riders really race in all conditions and ninety percent of other sports would not be there doing that.
It's such a physical, gruelling, athletic sport - a lot of people don't realise how hard it is out there. This was only four road stages and two crits; I consider after doing two Giri d'Italia, nothing's hard to back up again.
When I feel fresh enough, I'll start a new program to build up even a little bit better. I'll work on what course the Commonwealth Games is going to be and the time trial, if I'm in that as well. The local scene is quite strong, strong enough that I can get good training out of. I used a lot of that to get fit for this tour, and if I do my training and the local races as well, it ends up being a really, really solid day.
Whenever I've put my mind to something, I've somehow seemed to get there and do it. So for me, I know the chances are a bit against me, but I think I've done everything I can now... it's out of my hands. I would of thought I've done enough now, including my past results.
After a few drinks tonight, it's back on track straight away. There's a chance I maybe riding the track nationals; I will do a test run of a 4000 metre pursuit, and I won't ride unless I'm going to be competitive. I haven't ridden the track for six years and it's a big difference. Obviously, I'll have the form coming out of this, but the track's still different; it's on the agenda, but I'll just wait and see for that.
Just on a topical note, some people have been asking about my plait. It was a bet a year and four months ago, growing an Anakin Skywalker on the side of my head. Once a year was up, I just haven't cut it off yet; I've had the scissors ready, but it just hasn't chopped. It's nearly time for it to come off, maybe right now... CHOP!
Only joking - I didn't do it :)
Check ya later and cheers,
P.S. It still hasn't sunk in wearing the green and gold jersey in front of everyone and now the stage win this week... it'll sink in soon. It's been pretty much a dream run for me - I'm just happy to be sharing this feeling in my home town with everyone I know.