Once again our fearless team physiologist Toby Watson will be sending in dispatches from the road, this time at the Eneco Tour.
Yesterday was the start of the Eneco Tour, a race through the Netherlands, Belgium and (I think) Luxembourg. It’s a week-long race on the Pro Tour circuit, meaning it is one of the handful of races through the year from which teams can accumulate Pro Tour points and enhance their ranking.
The rankings determine key factors such as automatic entry into the biggest races of the following year, and so there is a great deal at stake in races such as this for all of Pro teams riding next year.
As seems to be typical for this part of the world (we’ve started in Zeeland, Holland –- I struggle to not call it Old Zeeland whenever I mention it –- see? I did it again) it is at least a little windy, and quite wet. The Prologue yesterday was a very technical 5km zip around a little town called Steenwijk.
Seeing the uniform drabness of the forecast, our boys were sent off the line in an order where our men most likely to do some damage were in the last part of the race. In this way they had an opportunity to follow some of our earlier boys in the team car to see how they coped with corners, and to get a better handle on the course itself.
As the day progressed, all of our boys were coming through unscathed, but without genuinely setting the world on fire – just getting the job done, and giving their opinions and feel to our final boys about the key parts of the course. Our final three were Jack Bobridge, Cam Meyer and Svein Tuft: U/23 world TT champ, Aussie TT champ, Canadian TT champ. Not a bad combo!
As an aside, Jack and Cam are also members of the World Champion Teams Pursuit team, and Leigh Howard, a rider for another team was also part of the pursuit group. There was a little mini-rivalry between those three lads as to who would be the quickest over the technical 5km course which added some humour to the day.
Jack put out a good effort, taking himself deep into the hurt basket (the time that it took him to be able to speak in complete sentences without gasping for another breath was about double the time that it took him to ride the race itself) and crossed the line in about the same time as we’d seen Leigh cross the line a couple of riders before Jack (we don’t have ready access to complete results, so unless someone crosses the line in the lead, accurate times compared to everyone else are difficult to obtain in real time).
Cam rolled through next, and while not in quite the dramatically breathless state that Jack was in, had stated that he didn’t like how deep you have to take yourself, and then estimated he was in about the same time as Jack and Leigh. It would all come down to the official results sheet for those three!
We then all popped in to the bus, glued to the screen to see how Svein would go. He is a very unassuming bloke – he’s extremely talented, and very professional, but he just gets his job done quietly without interest in being in the limelight. So whenever he says anything like “I’m going to give it a dip” or “I haven’t crashed in a while, so I reckon it might be time to take a couple of risks” we know he is going to be on a good one. And it was very good!
He crossed the line 6 seconds in front of the race leader for the whole day. Svein came back, and after the hugs and backslaps from we at the bus, he headed across to warm down, while the rest of us watched (with trepidation) the remaining riders head for the line. It was a sign that he’d taken himself quite deep when he was about to get on his bike, then had to stop as he looked to be on the brink of throwing up. Always a good sign!
Slowly the remaining riders came through, and none seemed to be getting close to Svein – and the excitement ratcheted up with each finisher. Eventually only the winner from last year remained on the course, and as the time flashed up with a couple of hundred metres to ride, Matt White, our director sportif led us in the start of the celebrations.
It was a great moment, and a great day for the team over all as Dan Martin had backed up his win in the Tour of Poland last week with a big win in an Italian one day race as well. A double victory for Garmin-Transitions, and so today Svein rides in the leader’s jersey for the race, meaning the boys have some work to do to defend our top spot.
Bring it on.
More photos from recent races: