Stage 4 of the PEUCC18 was quite a drama filled day. The Queen Stage – which included over 3,000m of elevation and the infamous Dead Horse Gap climb was jeopardised by wet weather. After a series of meetings with riders, support staff and ride captains the consensus was – those that want to ride in the very difficult weather conditions can, and those that don’t want to ride in the very difficult weather conditions will be driven to Jindabyne with an opportunity to make it up on the rest day.
Therefore- this blog is separated into “Stage 4a – Corryong to Jindabyne” for those that chose to ride and “Stage 4b – Jindabyne -Charlotte Pass – Jindabyne” for those that chose not to ride.
Stage 4a – Corryong to Jindabyne
For 10 riders the stage went as planned. 135km and 3,300m of climbing over Scammell’s (15km at 4.5%) and then Dead Horse Gap (18km at 6%) – the only thing that wasn’t to plan was the weather. With the support vehicles ferrying those who chose not to ride over to Jindabyne support duties were left to the catering truck and the media van with assistance from a couple of the non-riders.
While the weather gradually improved for the riders, things weren’t quite so simple for the media van. The constant low speed, and heavy weight (carrying all luggage) caused the gearbox to overheat and required constant stops to allow it to cool down. It also seemed to have an impact on the fuel gauge where the team thought they were actually going to run out of fuel half way up Dead Horse Gap – before the gauge started working again and the ‘crisis’ was averted
As the riders pressed slowly and carefully forward on the wet, then drying but greasy roads the catering truck were in full flight to ensure they were supported with enough food and drink to keep them going. The improving weather did also create some issues with layering as the riders scrambled for warmer clothing on the descents, but then needed to shed the layers on the climbs.
The catering truck then set up an amazing spot for lunch at the top of Dead Horse Gap as the weather again became an issue and conditions worsened with rain and strong winds. Willem was again the first up the climb, followed by Rob and George but in such trying conditions it was a seriously impressive effort from all riders who started, climbed, conquered and finished the stage.
- both the KOM and Sprint segments were neutralised on the stage for rider safety
- while it wasn’t planned to give out an ‘Ingers Spirit of the Peloton’ jersey it was decided to award a jersey to Kevin who made the decision not to ride but remained in the support cars all day and was relentless with his assistance to the riders
- Stage 5 will see the unique appearance of 2 ‘Ingers Spirit of the Peloton’ jerseys with now Kevin and Bill (Stage 3 winner) wearing them with pride
Stage 4b – Jindabyne – Charlotte Pass – Jindabyne
The riders who chose not to ride in Stage 4a organised a ride up to Charlotte Pass – 6km past Perisher (27km at 3%). The ride was very casual given no time constraints and although the skies were looking menacing the riders set off in great spirits. As the riders ascended, the fog got thicker and visibility became increasingly shorter, but as the riders reached Perisher the fog lifted and they rode to Charlotte’s Pass in glorious sunshine.
There was time for a group photo at the top and for the media team to get some marketing material for some new products before heading for Jindabyne with the opportunity to now descend what had just been climbed being eagerly awaited. We also got to see the green, yellow and both ‘Ingers Spirit of the Peloton’ jerseys in the same bunch, adding a touch of colour not yet seen in the usual 2 group setup.
The faster descenders averaged an impressive 64kph for the 13km descent proper with everyone showing their skills and enjoying the open, sweeping corners and fantastic road surface. As the group rode back into Jindabyne they were greeted by the Stage 4a riders before heading off for a much needed coffee and lunch and to discuss all things STRAVA. It was unanimous that the 82km ride was an excellent way to make up for missing Stage 4a, with an amazing climb, breathtaking views and a daredevil descent all rolled into what was effectively a casual bunch ride.
- Ride Captain Julian had some issues with his Di2 gearing, resulting in him riding 10km stuck in the 11-tooth on his rear cassette. Thankfully he was able to rectify the issue and he was able to use ALL his gears for the descent.
- The group got a great view of Mt Kosciuszko and the snow-capped mountains from the top.
- Ride Captain Travis touched snow (in Australia) for the first time
- A massive thanks to Support Crew members Ian, Brett and Alex for giving up their rest day to ensure the riders were looked after and will have photos and footage of their adventure
Normalcy returns tomorrow with Stage 5’s 192km ride from Jindabyne to Canberra!