Brisbane CC have had a hard few months. It's been cold, there hasn't been much racing, and the difficulties that come with being a cycling team have been ever present.
With Grafton to Inverell a distant memory, Battle Recharge marked the restart of the NRS season. After the announcement of our new sponsors RABBLE.club, Diamonds International, Fonzie Abbott and NALAC.CC before the tour, the team was in high spirits at Battle Recharge and keen to impress.
The first stage saw Ryan Cavanagh take the race by storm. He quite literally rode the race off his wheel and won the stage with Ayden Toovey from Bennelong-SwissWellness in tow. We had Oliver Martin and Ryan Thomas finish in the top 10 on the stage. They had made a small selection in the latter stages of the race, and finished a minute behind the flying Cavanagh and Toovey. As Cavanagh had no team to help defend his jersey, this meant that Toovey and his Bennelong-SwissWellness team were in the box seat to take the jersey over the next few stages. We were determined not to just hand the tour to them after the first stage though. A minute on the roads around Murwillumbah is not much time, and if the race went our way, it was realistic to think we could make back the difference.
So it was into stage 2, and we very quickly had Tom Robinson up the road in a move. He was with around 6 others, including Michael Frieberg from Bennelong-SwissWellness. Tom's job while up the road was to be waiting for moves to come from the Peloton. If we were to get that time back, Our team was going to have to try to look for an opportunity to launch long range and catch Cavanagh and Toovey off guard. Unfortunately, before the boys could attack, Tom's group came back to the peloton and a small group rolled countered. Bennelong quickly took control and rode a false tempo over the last 45k and before the 2 solid hills that came before a quick descent to the line.
Our team organised themselves behind the Bennelong train, and began thinking about the final. We had a good options for the stage win, Oli and Vinky could launch early on the last hills and try to get a gap, and Ryan Thomas and Jono Butler could follow the moves and sprint if it was a reduced bunch going to the line. Coming into the last 10k and the small break still had 50 seconds. Martin countered a move after the first hill, and began hunting down the break. Over the top of the last hill, which came with 2k to go, he caught and passed Conor Murtagh from Mobius-Bridgelane who was the last survivor of the break. Oli drilled the descent and came to the line 6 seconds ahead of his chasers to deliver Brisbane Continental its first NRS stage win! Ryan won the bunch sprint as well, and Jono and Vinky came through in bunches just behind. It was an incredibly classy win, after a fantastic team effort and moved Oliver into 3rd place on GC going into the final day.
The 3rd and final day was a classic NRS double stage, with a 10k TT in the morning and a Criterium in the afternoon. Jordan Kerby, Michael Vink, Ryano and Oliver were all going to go for it in the TT. Tommy and Mitch were going to have to just get through the TT, after both of them suffered heavy crashes on the first two stages. Kerby set the early mark, and sat in the hot seat until his time was bested by Cam Bayly of Bennelong-SwissWellness. Kerby eventually finished 6th on the stage, Ryano came through in a time 1 second faster than his team mate in 5th and Vink's time was good for a top 10. Oli was able to post a good time and maintained his 3rd place on GC.
Heading into the Crit we were looking to at least maintain our 3rd place on GC, if not move into second with Oli, and also move Ryano up from 5th on GC. Bennelong-SwissWellness had moved into the yellow jersey convincingly after Cavanagh sadly crashed himself out of contention in the TT. As soon as the crit started it became obvious that Bennelong weren't going to take any chances. Nothing was able to move to far up the road, and coming into the final laps, the front of the race was all Bennelong. Ryan and Jono were positioned just behind them coming around the last corner, and up the finishing straight Ryan weaved his way through the riders in front and crossed the line in second, just behind Ayden Toovey in the yellow jersey.
Oli rode a smart race through the crit and maintained his 3rd place finish on GC, and Ryan's time bonus moved him up into 4th overall. Two excellent results after a great few days of racing. As well as this, the teams consistent results had netted them 2nd overall in teams classification, behing the unflappable Bennelong-SwissWellness team.
The combination of racing success, and great support from our new sponsors bodes well for the remainder of the NRS, and we now turn our attention to the 6 stage Tour of the Great South Coast which starts on the 15th of August in Mount Gambier.
As well as our new sponsors listed above, a massive thanks has to go to FE Sports, ESMACC, The Pedaler, Cobra9, and of course Megabake who contributed both nutrition plus time and effort with the man himself, Mr Brett Ledger, acting as super soigneur for the tour.