Oceania Games - CC
Sydney, Australia, December 8-16, 1999
Road Day 3 - December 16, 1999
Men's Road Race - 120 km
By Jeffrey Jones
With all due respect to John Clarke and Fred Dagg, the final event of the Oceania Games - the men's road race - was held in front of an estimated crowd. Due to various circumstances, namely the heat and the size of the field, the race was shortened by three laps to 120 km. This almost prompted your correspondent to enter himself on the day as a member of the Oceanic region known as "Cyclingnews". However, although we would like to qualify a rider in next year's World Championships, we settled for a sideline view of the action.
Twelve laps of the 10 km course, which could be described as "harsh, but fair" was still going to test the field, and a bunch finish was not expected. The race was going to be between Australia, New Caledonia, and New Zealand, despite the best efforts of the Guam team and lone Fijian, Nelson Manuel. The temperature was, once again, very warm and this would test the riders in the latter part of the race.
The start was reasonably quick, although not flat out at 42.5 km/h on the first lap. This was due to a strong attack from the New Caledonians, and six riders establish a gap: Australia's Peter Milostic, and Baden Burke, New Caledonians Olivier Bonnace, Christian Pierron, and Jean-Charles Goyetche, and New Zealand's sole chance, Robin Reid. Later on, another Aussie, Bart Hickson bridged across to form a front group of seven. The leaders had a 26 second gap on a chasing group containing Riviere (NCl), Wilson, Upton, and Reay (all Aus) by the end of the first lap, and that was the last of the front group that the chasers saw.
The break worked fairly evenly to establish the gap - the Australians were happy with the men they had in the break, and so too were the New Caledonians. New Zealand, who started with just three riders were forced to settle with what they could get, and Robin Reid was certainly strong enough to hold his own.
After the third lap, the break had over two minutes and the bunch had basically given up. The only riders dropped were Fijian Nelson Manuel, and the riders from Guam - Gerald Valdez, Derek Horton and Greg Jackson. Guam's remaining rider, Jazy Garcia was still in the pack, attempting to qualify his nation for an Olympic spot. The gap to the bunch gradually grew and was over four minutes by the end of the race. The only mechanical mishap during the race was a broken spoke to the New Caledonian U23 rider, Jean-Charles Goyetche. However, he was able to get a quick wheel change and was soon back in the front group.
The attacks started with one lap to go from the New Caledonian rider, Christian Pierron. It was up to the Aussies to chase and try and set it up for Baden Burke, their best sprinter, or possibly a solo move from Milostic or Hickson. Hickson however had to do much of the chasing to nullify the New Caledonian's attacks, and it was Milostic who tried several moves around the back. Meanwhile, Kiwi Reid had been keeping himself busy covering all the moves to give himself the best possible chance.
It came down to a seven-up (pardon the pun) sprint, led out by Hickson. At the finish, it was the 20 year-old New Caledonian Jean-Charles Goyetche who won, edging out Reid with Burke taking the bronze. Although it was somewhat disappointing from Burke's point of view, he said that he just "didn't have the legs - it was a long day, especially the last 5 kilometers."
"I didn't know a thing about the New Caledonians, but I asked around the bunch and found they were pretty strong. They were working hard though," said Burke.
The heat didn't really bother Goyetche, who lives in warmer conditions back home, although this was the first time he'd visited Australia. He and the rest of the team had certainly planned to attack early, and it paid off with New Caledonia having three out of seven in the break. Although he didn't expect to win, especially after a testing chase due to a broken spoke, he "found his legs with two laps to go."
Goyetche has won two stages in his native Tour of New Caledonia, as well as two third positions in the French Madison and Team Pursuit Championships on the track. Clearly a strong rider, he intends on riding for France on the track next year in the points and madison races, although Olympic selection may be a little beyond him.
Silver medallist, Robin Reid from New Zealand was clearly feeling the effects of the heat after the race. He rode extremely well to hold his own in the break, and did not simply sit on the Aussies and New Caledonians. It was his 24th birthday today, and he would have loved a gold medal as a present.
"I was a bit disappointed with second afterwards, being so close, but then I realised it was a pretty good result with all of the others there. I was trying to cover all the moves on the last lap, and it was pretty hard. I just tried to get a good wheel for the sprint," said Reid afterwards.
"The conditions were a bit of a shock, coming from New Zealand but it wasn't too bad during the race - now it's bad though," he added. "I'm having a break over Christmas, before starting next year with the Tour of Wellington in January, building up for the Nationals in April."
The Games are over now, and most of the riders are looking forward to a relaxing Christmas. The events were interesting from a test point of new, despite the relative lack of competition, particularly in the road events. However, the Olympics will be several orders of magnitude bigger, and this was a valuable "dry run" for the main event.
Results: 1 Jean-Charles Goyetche (NCal) 2.58.12 (40.40 km/h) 2 Robin Reid (NZ) 3 Baden Burke (Aus) 4 Peter Milostic (Aus) 5 Christian Pierron (NCal) 6 Olivier Bonnace (NCal) 0.03 7 Bart Hickson (Aus) 0.08 8 Jean-Marc Riviere (NCal) 3.23 9 Greg Scott (NZ) 3.39 10 Trent Wilson (Aus) 11 Michael Simms (Aus) 4.09 12 Sylvio Esposito (NCal) 13 Franck Bonnard (NCal) 14 Colin Reay (Aus) 15 Karl Moore (NZ) 16 Robert Upton (Aus) 17 Glen Stojanow (Aus) 4.11 18 Jazy Garcia (Guam) 10.41 19 Derek Horton (Guam) DNF 20 Gerald Valdez (Guam) DNF 21 Mike Michel-Villaz (NCal) DNF 22 Greg Jackson (Guam) DNF 23 Nelson Manuel (Fiji) DNF