Tour of NZ

Tour of NZ video #3: Jess Allen's guide to time trial warm-ups

The final instalment of the Ride Happy video collection for 2012 Tour of New Zealand - and some would say the best. White jersey winner Jess Allen takes us through the ins and outs of how to warm up for a time trial when it's raining, pre stage 1. It is unconfirmed whether Jess used this warm-up when she won her world title but it certainly looks a formula for success. Even the Platypus of Truth thinks so.

Tour of NZ wrap-up (Part 1)

We have just arrived back in Melbourne from Tour of NZ. It was a fantastic tour with an awesome group of chicks (sorry Ryan, you're an honorary chick now!).

 The tour was very hard. Tours are always hard, but this one was HARD. Rain, wind, crashes, splits, long stages, chasing... and more chasing.... It was action aplenty. I have not chewed that much stem in a while.

As the Gillard/Rudd leadership wrangle back home continued to make page 14 news in Palmerston North, many more leadership spills were taking place in the peleton. The yellow jersey got passed around the shoulders of the US national team as they played a game of 'You wear it. No, YOU wear it'. A glorious break with all the major teams' GC riders got up the road on stage 4 which gave us all a chance to sit up and be Euro as the gap blew out to 8 mins and Jorg repeated his traditional threat of neutralising the stage.

Team VIS was in a strong but stealthy position as a relative underdog against the likes of the Italian, USA, NZ, Chinese and Japanese national teams, GreenEdge and AIS. We were, however, comfortable in the knowledge that we had, in aggregate, the tallest team in the peleton and also were the only team with an emergency platypus (aka the Platypus of Truth) on board. This gave us a quiet confidence.

I don't think I've ever worked in such a committed and professional team.* Every day the girls pulled out something special. Jo 'The Flying Glutard' Hogan was our designated GC rider and was in awesome form the whole week, finishing 4th on GC. Loren 'Dial-A-Sprinter' Rowney showed no fear of the international peleton in winning stage 2 and claiming the green Sprint Classification jersey. Jess 'Giggles' Allen raced her first senior UCI tour like Jens Voigt, chasing down everything that moved and leaving enough in reserve to claim the U23 classification white jersey. The fact that she still has another 4 years in the U23 classification is scary! Chloe 'The Disruptor' McConville showed why she is one of the best team riders in the country by spending every day at the front, bringing back breaks, controlling moves and effectively setting up the VIS' move into the green and white jerseys. The only thing that we were missing was our team race brain Kendelle Hodges, who is recovering from glandular fever.

Our management, Donna 'DS' Rae-Szalinski and Ryan 'The Emotional One' Moody were the glue that kept us together all week. They kept us smiling, learning and committed to working hard. I think they worked harder than we did.

There were lots of colourful jerseys to be won during the tour but no prize was more coveted than the Ride Happy award, presented by team management (aka Donna and Ryan) each evening.

The award was given to the rider who had made Donna's heart rate hit 200bpm during that day's stage. The winner also got to wear a splendid blue headband at dinner. All the other teams pretended they weren't jealous about it but we could tell they were.

Jess kindly gave an interview to the Platypus of Truth after her epic win:

I found the tour pretty tough. Tour riding is my favourite type of racing, but my body was pretty wrecked. I've had a difficult few weeks of feeling cooked and in a perma-box that no amount of salty treats will fix. Not that I haven't tried...

I've got 2 more videos to put up from NZ but right now I'm going to bed. Stay tuned.

*Even though nothing can top the 2010 NTID Tour of NZ crew for fun... I have to say this is a tie for first place.

Tour of NZ stage 4

Today was a ripper day for the VIS crew. It went to plan perfectly, which is a rare thing for bike races. Too much to write, but very briefly: Jo got in the perfect break with GC contenders from all the major teams. Luckily this meant that the main bunch was happy to sit up and let the break blow out to 8mins. Jess led out Loren perfectly for the intermediate sprint which means that Loren now has an unassailable stranglehold on the green jersey. Then we hatched a plan in the bunch to launch Jess into a break to get the 19 seconds she needed to take the young rider jersey.

Preventing the Chinese national team from closing the gap to Jess was not easy (they had the white young rider jersey) but luckily this kind of shit is what McConville lives for and she shut everything down. Now Jess is in the white jersey, Loren is in the green and Jo is sitting 4th on GC. What a great day. Tomorrow we are out to defend the white and move Jo up.

A big shout out to Amy Bradley who put it on the line today in a break and ran 2nd in the stage. Great work and a well deserved result.

And another shout out to Grace Sulzberger who was taken down in a crash today and broke her wrist. She'll be back stronger than ever but right now please send any spare healing thoughts you have her way.

Ride happy.

Tour of NZ

20120221-165344.jpg We have just touched down in Wellington for Tour of NZ, which starts tomorrow. Team VIS comprises Jo 'PRO' Hogan, Chloe 'New Mother' McConville, Jess 'Pride of the West' Allen, Loren 'I signed with HTC but this is my REAL team' Rowney and myself. We are ably led by Donna 'Supercoach' Rae-Szalinski and Ryan 'Frequent Flyer' Moody who will assume mechanical, myo and platypus-handling duties. We are excited.

The Tour of NZ is a 5 day cultural assimilation program run by the NZ Government in an effort to dissuade Australians from invading NZ shores, claiming local celebrities and racehorses as their own, and beating them at rugby. The race is located in Palmerston North, a town so ill-suited to tourism that its main attraction is a rubbish dump named after John Cleese. Teams spend 5 days trying to get out of Palmerston North, ideally to go somewhere where it does not rain for 300 days of the year. There is also some cycling involved.

I'll try to keep you posted on the stages. Tomorrow's prologue is an 8km TT in the evening.

Ride happy.