Well, we’re just changing ends in the 5th set. But instead of the standard chair and umbrella, we’re sitting in our allocated bus for the tour. Each team has one from stage 1! Great organisation Tour de Korea! Here we sit for two hours while our trusty driver- now dressed in Avanti Racing Team team clothing from Motion- heads for Seoul. Here the back end of the 5th set will unfold. As play commences, the scoreboard doesn’t look great for us- we’re a break down. OGE played well today. If the tennis analogy is going over your head, I suggest you read the preport to stage 7.
The first part of the stage was tough. With only a short stage tomorrow, there were heaps of guys rolling the dice to get into the break. 4th place overall to probably about 20th is seperated literally by a couple of seconds, the time bonus in the intermediate sprint is enough to put a lot of riders into the top 5! The break didn’t go until just under the hour mark. The terrain was a bit lumpy, but it was the racing that really spiced things up. OGE were often putting people in the moves, rather than controlling the bunch. This meant we had to jump around a lot too, in order to avoid the situation we had yesterday! Solid racing, but the hard work paid off, with only 4 riders going clear.
The pace was a fair bit higher than in previous days. The break were obviously working well together, and again, there was a fair amount of wind about. Hepburn was again called to arms at the front immediately- poor bugger! After the KOM we added Mitch, and Drapac added their thoroughbred Tasmanian “Big Horse”- Will Clarke. An ominous and powerful alliance as far as the breakaway was concerned! The km’s ticket by quickly, and the gap came down. The final 20kms were pretty solid! A few rolling highway hills near the finish really put some sting into the legs.
In the final 5km, I was trying to position Paddy onto the back of Wippert, with some difficulty. Drapac had Brownie in front of Wippert and were running two “sweepers”. Sweepers are team mates who basically fight for the back wheel of their sprinter- with sweepers on the back, there’s less chance anyone will be able to come from behind their sprinter to overtake him. I was battling with the sweepers with Paddy on my wheel for the final 4km. Bernie Sulzberger and Adam Phelan had the brooms in hand, and I was wrestling them both. It’s a fine line. You want to bump them off the wheel so Paddy can get onto Wippert, but no one wants to crash! I had to apologise to Bernie after the stage, because at one point I got him off the wheel, but he was right up against the gutter and he had no where to go, I suggested backwards, but it was a bit dicey!
I moved up the inside of Drapac in the last few hundred metres when they surged with their lead out. They dived up the inside of OGE and Paddy was scurrying for the rear of their train. By then, I was done. Paddy held good speed around the corner, and actually came out of it on Ewans wheel! Paddy’s analyses was that Today, Ewan and OGE were simply too good- Paddy couldn’t come around in the final few hundred metres, but still ran a very credible 2nd place. Back out to 8seconds! Damn. One more crack tomorrow!