In most stage races (with exception of Grand Tours), a 40km ITT is very long stage; especially when you have it at end of a three day short tour. In reality, the parcours at the Matabungkay Tour did not offer me many opportunities to use my killer sprint. I missed out on the key breakaways and they had happened on crucial points of the climb. I had no legs to follow. Maybe the first stage was a mistake, where I mistakenly believed that there was three of my Mossimo teammates up the road. For this reason, I delayed my chase for a long time – when in fact I could have jumped right when the break was being established and been right in the mix. The hill was not overly difficult and I climbed it well below my capability. The other chance of getting away came during stage three – I had made a vicious attack to which no one responded to and sailed away with one other rider in tow. I had two minutes on the main peloton by the time I hit the base of the climb. In hindsight (yes-everything is 20-20 then!), maybe I should have gone balls out hard up the climb in the bid to reach the top first. But instead, I chose to ride high tempo, and after 10km of climbing I was caught by the lead chase group. I did slot in nicely at the back and hang on, but when Lee Rodgers did a big surge I could not go with it.
It was now up to me to produce a good time trial – and I am still very much a novice when it comes to these events although I have had some success at them. Mostly the shorter and more explosive events. What made things even worse was the organizers had moved the times up so I ended up missing my start by 30 seconds. This threw me off quite a bit and this enabled my 30 second man to catch and fly past me at 60km/h! I was riding my Velocite Magnus road bike equipped with clip-on bars and HED disc/tri-spoke. I kept my focus and re-passed my 30 second man; however this dude stuck to my wheel like glue despite my numerous attempts to swat him off my wheel like a fly. He would drift back, but always come back sneakily. I probably wasted a fair amount of energy yelling at the top of my lungs to stop riders from latching on. Its a individual time trial, not a road race!
Normally, I am able to ride well on a road bike in TT’s and I thought that with the slick HED disc wheel on, I would be flying. But it was the opposite. I could never get on top of my gear and struggled into the wind and the constant ups and downs. It was a tough 40km for anyone – check out Colin Robertson’s blog post, he finished with a 57min 40 which is a sterling effort. Only three riders went below 60mins: Lee Rodgers clocked just over 59mins while Mark Cook came in at 59.50. The rider who was pacing me for most of the time trial, left me behind for good when going up the first of the steep climbs and eventually finished 5th. I limped in to come 9th overall with a time of 1hr 03mins to clock an average speed of 39km/h. In reality, it was not a bad time-trial effort given the nature of the course. But I had wanted to do sub 60mins and need to figure out a good time trial position if I am going to improve my TT skills. I know I have the mental capacity required to do well but always limited by equipment and correct position. In fact, position on the bike is the key to everything. Once you have that right, you can shave minutes of your time and add on the fancy TT equipment you can shave more seconds here and there.
My time-trial result allowed me to finish 11th overall. Regardless, I’m pretty happy with the racing I did. I made a few good attacks and while none of them ultimately won me a place in the winning breakaway, they did help make the race harder and provide an opportunity for counter-attacks to fire. Just like Stage one’s winning move occurred right after I had gone off the front. My move had strung out the field and this allowed the strong riders to move to the front – Lee Rodgers took the opportunity to really drive it home by taking only two riders with him to the finish line.
Again, racing in the Philippines was a treat and I recommend any rider in Asia to consider adding one of the stage races to your bucket list. In fact, there are rumors of having an “Asian Expat Championships” where Thailand, Bintan, Singapore and Philippines are all included. Having amateur points on offer for the series would be an interesting concept and create some excitement among the riders. We may see many riders traveling around like “pros” to amass the points to win the coveted Asia Championships title!
Matabungkay is truly a wonderful region to visit and its highly recommended to stay at the Matabungkay Beach Resort for several days and explore the region, either on your road or mountain bike.