The final stage is Velothon Sunshine Coast’s biggest test through the Glasshouse Mountains. Today would bring our time in the winter Queensland sun to an end but not before a demanding route through the surrounding hinterland.
Words: Alex Malone
Photography: Tim Bardsley-Smith
The day when there’s no reason to hold back because tomorrow, the only thing most of us need to worry about is not falling asleep at our desks. The final day and the longest of the 2019 Velothon Sunshine Coast is undoubtedly the toughest with 137km and more than 2,500m of climbing, making Stage 3 one to remember long after the pain subsides.
After 330km of riding, having battled up Obi Obi and ventured to Noosa, New Zealand’s Alex Heaney (Spoken Cycles) rolled back into Cotton Tree, Maroochydore, with a comfortable five-minute advantage of his nearest rival, and teammate, James Harvey.
“We definitely didn’t know what to expect coming over. We didn’t know who anyone was, so we came over prepared to go hard and we did that so we are pretty happy,” Alex said. ”The main goal was to come over and win the teams and put the team on the map. We have done that and done everyone proud. We have loved it.”
“It has been awesome. The organisation is unreal and it is definitely something that we would come back to. The group that came over have absolutely loved it. We came over to race and ride our bikes but we also came over to have fun and everyone has loved it.”
The Spoken Cycles duo were the team’s top-placed overall riders however, the Cambridge outfit really were impressive, setting the scene on each of the three days. In third place it was the Cammeray Roadies rider Matthew Kasher who was best of the rest, helping his team to another fine result following their team victory in the 2018 edition.
In the women’s field, Zoë Clayton-Smith may have started the stage with a seemingly comfortable margin but with aspiring under-23 mountain biker turned part-time roadie Megan Williams chomping at the bit for the true mountain stage, it would take a huge effort for the Sydneysider Zoë to retain the lead.
“I felt pretty good to start with but the last KOM was one too many hills for me. At 125km in there was a 25 per cent pinch and I did everything I could to stay on, but I dropped off and unfortunately I had to grovel all the way home,” said Megan.
“When I thought it was getting too hard I just looked sideways and saw that everyone else was hurting just as much. I have never done a three-day road race before, but it was tough and heaps of fun. The scenery was great as well, so I really enjoyed myself.”
Riding it to the wire, Zoë would finish just 15 seconds clear of Megan after more than 8 hours of riding, while former WTN-Rotor Pro Cycling rider Hayley Jones took the final spot on the podium.
“My legs have gotten more tired every single day but I have still had a blast, Zoe said. “I think that today I what I would call type 2 fun, where you are hating it at the time but when you finish you love it. I knew the tiny pinches at the end were going to be real tough but I have had an awesome few days.”
“Winning the GC is just the cherry on the top. When I was riding with my partner Alex and another friend Chris I was thinking ‘This is why I am here. To hang out with my pals and have a good time’.”
“Obviously I had the GC in the back of my mind and I knew that stage three was going to be a day about damage control because young Megan was whipping up those hills. I knew she would be getting away from me but it is nice that I was able to keep hold of the leader’s jersey till the end. Albeit by only 15 seconds.”
“This is my second Velothon and it has been great. More people, faster stages, higher standard of rider and loads of teams and groups riding this year. The bunches make a real difference to the way you ride. I hope the word continues to get out and more people come to experience it next year,” Zoe said.
Words: Zoe Clayton-Smith
My legs felt heavy as we rolled out behind the police escort this morning. I did wonder if level 7 on the Novatec boots had been a step to far… but I was soon distracted by the beautiful sunrise over Alexandra Parade. Then we were off! Another pacy start with the Cammeray Roadies initially controlling the bunch before the dominant Spoken Cycles team made a stealthy attack. I saw my female competitor, Megan, make the selection and knew that today I would be on the defence, settling in with a pursuit of the bunch – hoping not all of my 12-minute lead would be whittled away.
The pinches of the hinterland haunted me from last year and hurt even more this time around. We don’t have those kind of hills in Sydney! I focussed on following the wheels on the hills and pushing on the flat to make sure our bunch kept up the pace. The downhills were insanely scary with the Wahoo hitting just over 95km/h – I feel lucky to be alive sitting here at the Clubhouse enjoying a delicious beer!
People ride bikes for so many reasons. Yes, I love the exercise (and the stats) but my main motivation is to be outside and take in the views – while most importantly, hanging out with friends. Today certainly didn’t disappoint. I felt so content when I looked left at the Glasshouse Mountains and then ahead at my partner, Alex, and good friend, Chris. Sadly the feeling didn’t last long as another 15% seemed to pop up out of nowhere.
I have had a great few days of riding, not to mention meeting some lovely people and even managing to get a little sun tan. I’ll be back for more next year.
Strava file: strava.com/activities/2549299414
Bidons consumed: 2.5 (world record-breaking aid station stop)
Gels consumed: 1 (much needed)
Carbohydrate intake: 60g/hour (Infinit mixed into two bottles, not enough)
Burger score: 9/10 (Karaage chicken from nearby Milk Bar Coffee Co)
Top speed: 94.9km/h
Metres climbed: 2,509m
Average heart rate: 144bpm
Velothon 2019 – Stage Three results
Pos Cat Name Gun Time
1 (Team) Mike Gilbert (#662) 03:26:33
2 (Team) Alex Heaney (#664) 03:26:40
3 (Open) Christopher Ball (#110) 03:27:22
Pos Cat Name Gun Time
1 (Team) Megan Williams (#628) 03:34:21
2 (Open) Zoe Clayton-Smith (#494) 03:46:10
3 (Masters) Emma Mccosh (#472) 03:59:01
3 Day: GC
Pos Cat Name Gun Time Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3
1 (Team) Alex Heaney (#664) 07:55:17 02:18:09 02:10:27 03:26:40
2 (Team) James Harvey (#663) 08:00:41 02:20:16 02:10:26 03:29:59
3 (Team) Matthew Kasher (#618) 08:07:37 02:19:42 02:17:24 03:30:31
Pos Cat Name Gun Time Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3
1 (Open) Zoe Clayton-Smith (#494) 08:33:35 02:25:28 02:21:55 03:46:10
2 (Team) Megan Williams (#628) 08:33:50 02:40:44 02:18:43 03:34:21
3 (Open) Hayley Jones (#467) 09:07:48 02:33:41 02:25:42 04:08:24
Full results here.
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