The 5 man team that would tackle the Elite series would be: Kristian House, Richard Handley, Felix English, Aaron Buggle and Luke Mellor.
I was up for the Support team Series. The team for that would be: Mike Cumming, Ed Laverak, Hugh Carthy and Myself.
In the Elite race riders from Greenedge, Lotto, Saxo Bank and Garmin. In our support race we had other Aussie Continental teams and New Zealand teams.
Ok, the first stage! This circuit is a famous one and used almost every Series and its the Geelong town centre crit known as the 'Hotdog' crit. I watched the individual support race that was before my event to get an idea of the corners and it looked pretty fast! We had a mini team talk with our Manager John Herety and to talk about team tactics and what we should do. Did a few steady laps to get an idea for the 2 sharp corners. Then the start. Wow! This was for sure a proper race! The crowd was huge! All around the circuit and announcers and everything you can imagine for a top notch circuit race. And we're off! Bloody fast start and It was completely strung out for the first 4-5 laps and I was struggling! Every time I was sprinting out the 180 degree corner I was producing at least over 1000 watts! And this was twice a minute! This was some crazy interval training! As the race played on Mike and Hugh both crashed after about 20 mins. I was starting to feel stronger and I was able to get towards the front of the field. With about 3 laps to go I got Ed on my wheel and attempted to bring him up the field but I was struggling but with 2 laps to go I 'dive bombed' around the top corner And got to the front with ed on my wheel still but was on my last legs and so before the last corner I told ed I couldn't do a proper lead out anymore and told him to just go. I free wheeled to the end. I came 23rd out of the 60-ish riders. Happy to finish as I wasn't sure how I'd feel in a crit this early in the season where it is the middle of the Aussie season 2 weeks before their national champs. But after I got to chat with Australian TT champ Luke Durbridge! Such a nice guy! :)
Next day and it was I was a little more nervous before and but with this circuit it involved an actual steep climb. Nearly a little ring job but to avoid the chain dropping I decided to stick with the big ring. Straight away very fast just like yesterday. It took me about a couple of laps to find my feet and then every time the climb came I'd move up the field and stay as close to the front as I could! But this was pretty rapid, 800 watts all the way up the climb then holding 500 over the top with the odd jump to follow a move! With about 8 or so laps to go riders were getting dropped every time up the climb and the field was getting smaller. But with Mike in the break ahead it was a great opportunity to sit in then a rider jumped to try and get across but I was in a bad position to follow but ed got on his wheel.
He managed to stay away from us and I came 3rd in the bunch sprint. Mike came 7th on the day with ed 8th. I came 13th and Hugh getting 19th.
Happier with the result but felt annoyed why I wasn't feeling strong enough to make the top 10... But John was happy with my ride saying I was getting better, but still things to work on.
3rd and final day. A flat stage In Williamstown just outside Melbourne. a little nervous but at the front of the bunch at the start and ready to go again we were off! Right to the front and actually feeling great:) round every bend with ease and always in the front 10. A rider broke off the front early on and got a big gap quite quick but stabilised after a couple of laps. I foollowed a quite a few moves to get across and still feeling amazing and the furthest up Rapha rider. I was trying to absorb the crowd and enjoy the shouts of 'go on Rapha!'. As Rapha is a big well known brand here in Aus it was nice to get support:) Mike attacked and got a good gap and i was about 2nd or 3rd wheel for a while slowing the chase down and follow moves and sit on them. Then after several laps mike was brought back and I attacked! Wow! What a rush! Not just any attack but coming through on my own going through the finishing straight where there was at lest 200 people and the announcer calling 'another Rapha rider breaks off the front, they are looking strong today' then about another few minutes a speeding bunch of the Jayco-Skins train got me back an then it was about another 7 minutes before the finish. Then coming into the last bend about 9th place some retard came around the inside to try and get around but lost his wheel so he went down and I had no safe place to go only the floor riding straight over the guys who fell or go at an angle into the side barriers. Crash. Ed went down too. He wasn't really injured at all but I cut both knees and a bit on my shin with my thumb getting the worst. I'm writing this in the hotel a few hours after so it's petty stiff, but I'm sure it'll get better in the next few days. But John Herety said I road really well and that I looked really strong. He is a really great manager and is so wise when it comes to bike racing. I have so much respect for John and I know that because of him and his guidance, I will become a great racer in the near future.
The future looks great and these next few weeks will be a great learning curve for me :) ill keep updating this as much as I can.
The tan lines are really coming along nicely. It's around 28-33 degrees hear.
My next race will be the Victoria State Champs which is a stage race with a crit race, a 140k road race and a 30k time trial. That on the 18-20th of Jan.
Thanks for reading!
For more updates please follow my twitter account @porterelliott
Loving my first few days as an official Rapha-Condor-JLT rider :)