Team Cyclingnews.com - Down Under - 2004
Tour of Hungary - 2.6, July 26 - August 1
Countdown to a win
By Cody Stevenson
5am. Beep, beep - all aboard the bus for a 17 hour drive to Hungary!
Arriving in Hungary was somewhat surreal. I am not entirely sure whether it was my mental state after spending all that time in a van or it was because of the vast differences in the country's infrastructure to what I am accustomed to. Maybe it was because the countryside reminded me of Canberra... only greener!
Day 1 - a prologue, Chookman pulled out a great ride to finish 4th!
Day 2 - 180km accompanied by howling crosswinds and a 3km technical descent to the finish. Funky Phil jumped away and got 8th on the stage, I won the bunch kick to take 9th after being perfectly lead out by Chook. I don't think anybody realised that Chook can go through corners at 65kph with a team mate on his wheel. We had pulled away through that corner and Chook managed to take 11th!
Day 3 - A howling tailwind set up a good day for Team Cyclingnews. Phil and Cam got into a 14 rider break that stayed away all day. Cameron played the sacrificial role and Funky saved himself for the finish circuits which contained a 1500m 14% cobbled climb, which had to be done twice, thanks for that! When they hit the circuits Funky basically just rode away, nobody could stay with him, he went on to win the stage by over a minute and took the yellow jersey! It was probably the most amazing display of power and tactical nous that our team has unleashed this season, and yet it was so simple. Two in the break, one works, the other saves himself and then wastes the field in the final 20k, awesome!
Day 4 - Team Time Tria. Yeah, you all know how much I love these things! It was going to be a hard day after a 250km transfer in the morning, and being only with 5 after losing Leigh to sickness.
At the halfway point Matt hit a hole and broke his wheel, so the next 25km was just 4 of us! Cam and Phil were pulling long turns whilst Chook and I wriggled and winced for about 30 seconds into the wind. I would like to point out that Cameron Jennings is one strong dude, I was riding flat chat on his wheel and then I had to pull a turn, aye! We lost the yellow and we still rode an average of 50kph!
Day 5 - The stage was shortened due to bad weather and I for one was happy, especially because I had already lost 12 minutes on the final 10km climb! Funky managed to take the Mountains jersey with trusty Wormy by his side. Ricey and Chook also did an amazing job for Funky, softening up the opposition on the lower slopes of the final climb. I did my job to the base of the climb and farewelled my team mates as the road rose skyward. The team was really working well.
Day 6 was our last chance for Phil to take the yellow, the course was littered with undulations and categorised climbs. Once again everyone was assigned their duties and we all performed them well. I was dropped on the final climb and rode up and onward at a rather slow pace... the final 3km of the climb was at 10%, just what I wanted after an hour of climbing.
Day 7 - The final chance. The night before we had looked at the parcours and decided that with 2 cat 3 climbs, Funky could maybe try a breakaway, but if at 100km it was all together the team would ride the last 30km for me, for the sprint.
At 100km it was all together so they boys started upping the pace to bring back a group of 3 that had escaped. As we hit the finish laps, 3 laps of a 4km circuit in the centre of Budapest, the gap was 45 seconds - it would be touch and go!
8km to the finish and the Cyclingnews train had the whole peloton lined out with me sitting comfortably in 5th wheel. After riding 52kph into the headwind and 60kph down the back straight the boys were really rocking.
1km to go, the three leaders are at 5 seconds.
700m to go, they are caught.
600m to go, the Swedish team make a move down the right. I yell to Chook.
500m to go, left hand corner.
450m to go, Chook has cut up the inside with me on his wheel and we exit the corner at full tilt.
200m to go, I step off the wheel and go straight to the barriers.
50m to go, the swede pulls up to my bottom bracket.
10m to go, he hasn't got the legs to pass.
Finish line, throw the bike. Make sure I don't do a Zabel.
5m after the line, two arms in the air and a loud yell!
20m after the line... that feeling!
This victory is for my team mates, they put trust in me and I was able to repay them. Ricey, Wormy, Funky and Chook, thanks. With the Cyclingnews train, how can I lose!
The whole week was built on a collective effort from the team and our support crew.
Funky managed to move up to 2nd on GC, and the team had 2 stage wins!
17 hours back to Belgium - with a big smile on my face!