In the photo: Michael Kurnik
Written by Michael.
Wente Vineyards Road Race changed up a bit this year for the cat 4s, with the main climb being removed and the course being a longer version of ‘The Bump’ that a number of us had done earlier in the season. Regardless of our thoughts on this, it’s really nice turning up to start racing at 11ish rather than 8am!
The team consisted of the Irish contingent - Trevor & Peadar, Danny Yadron and myself. Both Peadar and I had our eyes set on some points from this one and Danny & Trevor generously volunteered to be our chaperones to the final corner. A few other teams turned up with 7+ riders and our plan was to react rather than initiate for the first 4 laps and then ideally be between 5th-10th wheels coming around the final corner.
The race stuttered along without anyone taking the initiative due to a roaring headwind on the descent and a crosshead wind on the flat. A dabble here and a nibble there, but no one was willing to move early. A solo rider eventually went off by himself for a lap but he was eventually reeled and we all rode the next laps together.
The pace quickened on the final climb, but for all the work that went in, we descended at a speed of Andy Schleck on a wet road. The front of the bunch sat up, spread 4-5 across the road and waited for someone else to do the work.
And then we waited even more…
This continued until Danny pulled a move directly out of the Sven Nys CX playbook, jumping onto the gravel shoulder and charging to the front and bunnyhopping back onto the road to finally animate the race. Danny led the bunch into the final corner and pulled the field for the next several hundred metres until the road went up. I launched from the bottom of the hill with the hope of starting early and keeping the gap. Sad to say, two other riders who timed their sprints a bit better, came around me towards the end when I was utterly pedalling squares, yet I still managed to hold on for third, with Danny and Peadar finishing in the bunch and Trevor winning the sprint for the next group.
All in all, a good result and the Wente podium wine isn’t too shabby either!