Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tour of Wellington

Firstly, I want to let people know I am definitely NOT going to be doing the Geelong Tour and World Cup after all, so I'll be in the shop working apart from during the last week of February when I'll be on the Women's tour of NZ working for the Jazz Apples Team.

I'm not off to Australia because BikeNZ needed a mechanic who could do both the Geelong and NZ Tours, but because I had already committed to working for the JA in NZ and couldn't do both legs BikeNZ decided not to select me for Geelong. Hopefully I'll get to work for New Zealand again later on in the year...

I had a very cool day on Saturday guest wrenching for my friend Paul Larkin, who was managing Team Tabak in the Tour of Wellington. This means I swanned out to the Scorching Bay time trial on a stunning Sunday morning just in time to drink a Havana coffee from the ex-Chocolate Fish Cafe, do some major socialising with old mates like Justin Kerr, Fraser MacMaster, James Williamson and many other riders I have been lucky enough to work with over the last couple of years, then clutch a pair of wheels inside the ProTrain vehicle following Steve Elden as he defended his GC placing in the TT.

Team Tabak was a team full of talent, including Olympian Hayden Godfrey (guesting from Team Subway), Stephen Elden, NZ U23 Road Champion Tom Hanover, Matt Sillars and top Aussie campaigner Bernard Sulzberger, who rode in Europe last year for DFL-cyclingnews.com.

Stephen Elden and Paul Larkin in Scorching Bay

We then decamped in convoy to my usual crafty possie by Midland Park for the afternoon criterium, where we were able to grab some lunch and the essential coffee before watching the race around Lambton Quay alongside a very large crowd. The boys rode really well, especially Steve and Bernie, and Tom also showed his huge potential. I was stoked to catch up with NZ's 10 year Worlds and Olympics veteran National Team mechanic Dale Hollows, who all NZ's current National Team wrenches owe a huge debt to. Dale is a legend in the sport and a great guy.

Tabak's Steve Elden cornering alongside Justin Kerr (Delmaine Foods)

The final stage and Tour overall were won by Australia's prodigious talent, classy young rider Travis Meyer, who I am quite sure will go on to do great things in this sport. While I wasn't there for his Admiral's Hill stage win, his victory in the crit was a display of pure class like I haven't seen since watching Sarah Ulmer win the Wellington World Cup round in 2006 - he broke away with Mark Langlands, dropped him, then lapped the field once, attacked them again and almost lapped them twice! Very impressive and well deserved too. I'd already seen Travis race before in Canberra and Murwillimbah on my trip to Oceanias last year, and he was already being tipped then as a future Tour de France winner. I wouldn't be at all surprised...

Travis Meyer in yellow soloing his way to victory

After the racing was done we rolled back to the Tour base at the Angus Inn in Lower Hutt for the final packing up and a couple of quiet beers for Steve, Paul and I before I headed back home. Thanks very much to Paul and Team Tabak for the great day, and thanks to all the Tour crew for such a cool time. I'm not going to miss working on next years Tour no matter what!

Cheers, Oli