The final stage of TDB took place on an exposed course under uncertain skies, with all categories set to do one or two laps of the 55km box. The course was rolling (~500m of elevation gain per lap) and cross winds were the theme of the day.
Women's Cat 1/2
The women's Cat 1/2 race had 16 starters and did 1 lap of the course. Deborah Snell had the ride of the weekend, bouncing back from a nasty crash in the opening road race to not only complete the remainder of the stage race, but sprinting for 3rd on the final stage! See our Instagram page @victoriawheelers for more details and pictures (Warning: Graphic Content). Shoutout to Megan Rathwell for obliterating the field; winning GC by over a minute and grabbing three stage wins along the way.
Men's Cat 3
Cole G. lined up as the lone Wheeler in Cat 3 and was on the hunt for a podium spot in GC. A few alliances were made with other teams who were also looking to move up on GC, and they agreed to try and blow the race apart in the cross wind on the first lap. Unfortunately Cole suffered a flat just as the hammer went down and was forced to TT his way back through the shrapnel in a attempt to regain contact with the break (KOM Alert: Check out Coles Strava Fly-By). Coming into the second lap and having caught the first chase group, Cole was running on empty having ridden nearly 50km on his own and was forced to abandon. Kudos to Cole for having the courage to go all-in to regain contact with the break, where most others would have been content to limit their losses and sit in with the chase.
Men's Cat 1/2
Nick and myself lined up for the Cat 1/2 race with the GC was still in play, as the top 20 riders were all within 2 minutes. 65 riders on the start line with two laps on the schedule. The start was fairly relaxed as we rode off into the headwind. A break containing 3 of the main teams established about 1min on the group and I found myself in a bridging attempt containing 3 other riders. Our bridge was caught as we turned into the cross wind and the main group went full throttle, separating contenders from pretenders. Nick cemented his status as one of the strongest riders at the race and made the selection of about 10 riders at the front. I rode in the first chase group containing 9 riders and although it was clear we weren't going to catch the front group, our group was still motivated to ride for GC. In the end, Nick sprinted for 6th (!), I finished 18th and over half the field DNFd the race . Nick and I finished 6th and 14th, respectively, in GC.
Tour de Bloom was a great experience! Special thanks to Isaac for being soigneur extraordinaire and organizing the accommodations.
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