Leading up to the race my training has been going pretty well. After racing the ITU Oceania Cup at Mooloolaba just 2 weeks earlier I was feeling pretty confident about where the body is at for this stage of the year. I am swimming great, riding strong and the run speed is getting better and better. However this didn’t seem to matter when it came to race day on the weekend due to a few reasons which I will highlight below.
With a 3AM alarm I drove from the Gold Coast to Pottsville which hosted the event. The start time was pushed back due to low light which meant the open men’s field started a little later than the planned 6:30AM. As soon as the gun went off I found my way to the front of the race and swam stroke for stoke with Clayton Fettell for the entire 1.9km swim with Shane Barrie just behind making up the lead group of 3. Hitting dry land we had around a 40 second lead which was enough motivation to ride hard and extend the lead. Clayton was first out of transition and set the pace for the opening kilometers of the bike before I took over and started to crank up the pace. I continued to lead until just before the end of lap 1 where Clayton came to the front.
Hitting the turn Clayton missed the turn around point and dropped back slightly meaning that I took the lead once more. Going onto the 2nd lap of 4 I cranked up the pace and rode away from Shane Barrie and Clayton Fettell. I have been riding quite strong in training over the last few months and was motivated to ride hard and build a lead.
Looking at my wattage/power output during the bike leg I was hitting around 380 watts and working hard. Being that the bike leg was 4 times out and back I had a chance to see what kind of a lead I was building up twice every lap. Each lap I had the chance to see the chase pack, which seemed to be doing a good job of a teams time trial with two people in particular deciding that they wanted to swap turns and sit 1 meter off the back of each other. In the race briefing before the race it was make quite clear that it was a 12 meter gap which athletes were required to maintain. Heading back on the 3rd lap of 4 I was caught by the group and proceeded to keep the required 12 meter gap to those in front of me. Just before the end of lap 3 Clayton crashed in front of me and with enough space between us I had time to get off the aero bars and maneuver myself around him.
I witnessed the riders in front continue the teams trial time for the remainder of the ride and when I had a word to one of the athletes involved about their draft distance I received some verbal abuse back. Honestly I was pretty angry about the situation on the bike leg with supposedly ‘professional athletes’ acting far from professional. Personally I think that I have a responsibility while racing to compete professionally and within the rules and it is disappointing to see other ‘pro’ athletes completely disregarding the race rules.
Hitting the run I was feeling a little worse for wear but managed to keep the body ticking over and held my position to finish 3rd.
While 3rd isn’t a bad result I was hoping for much better and feel like my result didn’t match up to the effort exerted out there on the course. I am pretty angry at what I happened on the bike leg and received several Facebook messages after the race from those who saw what went on out there in the pro mens race. Reports of two particular pro male competitors swapping turns and blatantly drafting off each other while jumping on anyone who tried to come to the front is just one of the messages I received post race via Facebook from an athlete who was racing. It is down right disrespectful to other competitors and those out there who choose to follow the rules.
On a positive note, for the first ever Tweed Coast Enduro event the organizers did a great job on the course and a big thank you to the organisers for putting on a race like this. The course was pretty awesome to race on and I can only see this race getting bigger and better in the future.