Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley - Stage 3 - Strada NERO

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Stage 3 - Strada Nero

The name of this course is pretty cool. The last 2 years I had raced B-Grade for the road race and so I knew exactly how the course went and remarkably the A-Grade race played out almost the same as last year for me.

It was also great to have a team car following and Shane behind the wheel making sure we were all OK.  I have to admit there were some initial pre-race nerves, but once we were rolling I was fine.

Emma and Georgia working out the key race points

We had prepared the night before for the big day and I felt rested and ready to take on the day with my teamies. The weather was amazing with light winds and not much was going to happen in the first part of the race while everyone was fresh.

Warming up on the trainer - Thanks to Rapha for the knicks!

The rolling foot hills were lots of fun and I got to try moving up the road and sitting in the wind to protect my key riders. I climbed with the bunch over the first little hill then I had a mini panic when I saw the first Queen of the Mountain (QOM) point, but realised my two key riders were in place and they were ready to launch.

Checking out the road surface on the course recon
There was a break up the road but with Ruth Corset's attack across to that break, it pushed the pace and I was suffering up the first climb. We chased back onto the main bunch where I moved up to find my sprinter. It was tough going trying to get anywhere and ended up mainly in the wind, then finally sheltering Tayla. After the sprint we all came together again and it was time to climb for the second QOM. I was way too far back and missed the main bunch going over the top which was very poor positioning going right into the Strada Nero.

Just getting over the hill
I could see the group splintering on the climb, but could not catch up.  After I crested the top with about five more rides, we managed to get about ten rolling turns along the valley floor. We picked up a few more stragglers and were ripping strong turns to pick up the group in front in about 10mins.

We picked up another group further up the road and I had Minda and Emma with me from the team. It seemed like no time at all we were 80kms into the race and we'd caught the front bunch with the leaders sitting up. It was a little sketchy passing the team cars, but it totally buoyed my enthusiasm as it meant there was a chance we'd all finish together.

Dusty climb with the Subaru doing the team car thing! YEAH!

I gave Shane the thumbs up that everything was AWESOME and scooted along with the ladies on the way home. I had a few stabs at the front trying to raise the pace to get home sooner and slightly string things out. It may not have worked, but it was a good feeling stretching the legs after all that climbing earlier.

It was about 5km to go and the bunch was getting nervous and sketchy. I wanted to see a sprint train to string things out, but with a max limit of 5 riders per team and the difficulty of moving up on the road, it was not going to happen for anyone. Unfortunately there was a crash in the back part of the peloton at 3km to go and disrupted the mood of the field.

I was not involved and Tayla was well placed to move up for the technical finish to come in 7th overall. I came in 50th with the main bunch right on the coat tails of Minda.

Stage 3 Full Results

SBS Footage from the day's stage:

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