Well, another adventure and stage race ticked off and I am back in the Concrete HQ… feeling totally fucked and trying to, er, get ready for another stage race… But, before we get all freaked out by the weekend of suffering to come, let us first bask in the sweet semi-orgasmic afterglow of 5 Passes – that’s right, its time to indulge in being legends in our own lunch boxes.

The Rivet boys really did light up A Grade, whilst our approach wasn’t conducive to a GC outcome like the Sky nerd power orientated GC doctrine, it did have flair and panache (and a lot of fucked legs), leading to some of my favourite quotes from the tour:

  • “Its been at least 5 minutes since one of you fuckers attacked, is another one going up the road soon?”
  • “Thanks to Rivet racing for making A grade 40% harder than last year…”
  • “We were freaking out after you guys attacked all through the first stage, wondering how we were going to chase you all down and given you were skinny fuckers we thought you’d seriously smash us on the climbs”

Ah… As I well know, there is a fine line between hatred and respect, but it was pretty clear that we came down well on the respect side, full credit to the boys for smashing out an awesome first time 5 day tour. Before I start massively wanking on with stats and tips, lets first get into what everyone loves best, an MF Montage that gives a taste for the Rivet way of life on tour:

Some of the highlights

Each day and stage had a myriad of Rivet generated highlights and BIG moments, here is just a tasting plate from the buffet of attacking goodness:

Day 1 – Like any insurgent Spanish-esque team, TT wasn’t so much our Forte, but the lads did a great job getting into the 18 min bracket and low 19’s for the opener at Ruapuna raceway. A solid start with no blow outs and racing on a track always cool… Promise I didn’t pretend to be a racing car… Much.

Day 2 – Cold & Early start and long day… Power Pete showed he had the goods right from the start, after a series of high octane attacks, Pete soloed away to take the first Sprint points of the tour and really setting the scene for a weekend of attacking and power riding from the big rig.

Day 3 – 215km’s of riding and racing any day is tough, so I decided to make it as hard as possible on myself with a 38km break away (or so), got the sprint point and got so close to the KOM as well. Cycling is legendary at creating ‘what ifs’, but I do wonder what would have happened if the peloton hadn’t got the time check? Logan then stepped in with a 2nd on the last KOM of the day, with some awesome attentiveness. The way everyone TTTed was also awesome and whilst the times weren’t there, the cohesiveness was like a beautiful art piece, only interesting. The day ending on a high with Pete getting in a massive break on the last stage and taking 10 mins back on GC! Beast. Angus and Ben attacking the shit out of the Peloton in the last 10km’s also a classic moment and one that had me on the absolute limit!

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The top of Lewis Pass… Hmmm… What if I had made it over with a 4 min lead? We will never know…

Day 4 – Rueben stepped up to the plate and got away after a series of attacks, staying away for the stage with the Benchmark BEAST. Not to be outdone, GV then burst out of obscurity to unleash an amazing TT up Arthurs Pass to get 2nd overall on the stage! An insane individual performance and only one that can come from an Italian, impressive shit.

Day 5 – I had gone to pieces by this stage, so it was awesome to see Pete once again off the front and attacking like a meth maniac from the GO, even did a 5km warm up FFS! Logan again showed his KOM form taking the last KOM points up Porters Pass. I then got to experience Ben and Angus going at it with a pair of pliers and a blow torch in the final TTT, those two unleashing a leg massacre with long stints over 50KPH!

A constant highlight – The awesome scenery… To be fair there were sections when I was only looking at back wheels, or my Garmin, but when I did look around, it was pretty epic – case study:

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Splendid…

Some dirty stats

For the stats lovers out there, here are some of the basic ones for you, from the TT start on Thursday night to the finish in Char Char on Monday arvo, here is what went down:

  • 645.8km’s
  • 5802m of climbing
  • 26 hours of riding

Yeah… no wonder I’m a bit fucked when I felt tired going into it!!! Its certainly a big 5 days… which leads me to the next point for those now salivating to do it next year.

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Rivet 1 – Smiling Assassins. Normally mild mannered professionals, today, crank snapping evil

And a few dirty tips

And finally, because I know everything (through the bitter stinging and fisting of defeat), its now time for me to pass on some Nomad wisdom in the event you want to come and get it ON at 5 Passes next year:

  • Its an extremely well organised and supported event. Not once did I even think about or have a grumble about things (ok, so a mini tantrum riding back to chch after the finish). Sure, there was some whack timing issues now and again and we had to send AT in to sort those mofos OUT, but overall it was well set up
  • Make sure you turn up with a decent team – We were lucky to have a great bunch and with 2 teams it allowed us a lot of options in the A grade race, much to the despair of the other teams
  • Connected to this above point – If you want to come here and win it, you need to be able to TT VERY well and turn up with a team that is very strong in team time trials. Essentially you have 4 Time Trials, so if you can’t TT or you have a weak team you’ll struggle to be up there in the GC battle
  • I arrived thinking there would be a shitload of climbing, whilst there was a fair amount, the course is a lot more power based than I anticipated. Training for threshold sessions and holding decent power would be a worthwhile approach – Don’t rock up weighing 60kg’s and think you’ll waltz away with the yellow… You need to be able to smash it
  • Its cold – I froze my ass off a lot… If you’re from NZ it was like a summer holiday, but if you’re going from up north, then prep for the COLD. Also worth getting down there early and getting used to the time zone as sleeping is always a Mofo on a stage race as it is. No shit, the Rapha winter gear was AMAZING on this trip and saved me. Special mention to the Classic Jacket and the Merino leg warmers, seriously awesome kit
  • Hotels were all good – Arthurs Accom was ‘interesting’ (fucking small and weird), but on the whole it was good times. Expect to get fingered massively on Wifi charges in these place though, nasty shit
  • There is always something happening in the race – The balance is really good. Basically on the ‘Open/Racing’ stages, every 15 to 20km’s there is either a sprint point or KOM, so there was always something going down… Made the time pass very quickly. Some of the neutral stages were a bit long, but a great chance to check the scenery and plan the next assault on the other competitors
  • Here’s an obvious one – Stage racing is about managing the burning of your matches over the whole 5 days. If you do what I did and soak your whole match box in lighter fluid and then stick a double happy in it before throwing it in a bonfire on day 3, then expect to have a few awful days…

Thanks to the Rivet Racing boys I had a fucking great time, even if I did turn into a giant cycling turd during the last two days. If you like stage racing then this one should be on your list for sure. Its a slightly quirky format, but believe me, on the Open stages its massively ON, so make sure you come to this gun fight armed up. Start planning for 2014 people.

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And the best T shirt award goes to…

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