Well that was a long and extremely enjoyable day. Stage 5 up Old Willunga Hill didn’t disappoint.
Late last night I sent a few people in the media a message wondering if I could somehow get a lift up to Willunga Hill with them. I had a few replies saying they would see what they could do. Most told me to call them at 9am to see where we were at.
I left about 7:30 to get me into Adelaide city in time to find parking and get some breakfast. Being a Saturday there was little traffic and I found all day parking for $10. Nice.
I then walked to Adelaide’s famous markets for breakfast. I love going in there. So much great produce. I spotted Matty Lloyd wandering about. I grabbed some fruit and a chocolate croissant and headed back to the Hilton to see if any of the media folk could help me out.
It was about 8:45am when I heard the first “norbs!”. Mr Owen Bentley was todays first meeting.
— Owen J Bentley (@owenbentley) January 26, 2013
Excellent. Just as we were saying our farewells, Andre Greipel walked past looking as fit as a fiddle.
Just on 9am and Rob Arnold from RIDE calls me to say get over to the village, he has a spot in Media car #2 for me. Excellent. Thanks a lot Rob.
I get over there and jump in the car driven by Ian Hanson, former media manager of swimming Australia, and also contained Rob from RIDE and Sophie Smith, now working for Cycling Weekly and Cycle Sport magazines in the UK. Sadly I have forgotten the name of the other journo in the front of the car. My apologies to her.
We headed of to Mclaren Vale in the media car. What a ride. No driving, no stop lights and a police escort. That is another first for me this week. We pulled up at McLaren Vale and hopped out. We arranged to meet Ian at 10:45am to head out to Willunga Hill.
Rob hopped over the barriers like his feet were on fire. “It’s easy Todd” he said and then explained the easiest way to do it. I was thinking the easiest way to do it would be pull the barrier up and swing it out and walk through. Nope, I would give it a go over.
Up, up, right foot clear, up, arse is over, heading down now. Ohoh, left foot clips the barrier and I begin a rather rapid and altogether undignified dismount, ending up on my arse in front of a fair few people.
Rob told me how funny it was. I bet it bloody was from his point of view. Oh well, nothing broken except my pride. Off we go. Here are a few photos from the start line.
It is Australia Day, so lets start with an Aussie team.
I got back to the car at 10:45am as planned. No Rob. 10:40. No Rob. Then Ian walked over and told me to get in, they are leaving soon. No more vaulting over the barriers, this time, move them and walk through.
A few minutes later we were off. It is strange being in a car you have watched zoom by for the past 4 days. Seeing the huge crowd lining the route was great. People waving, blowing horns, smiling and generally enjoying the event.
We have to double back to the start line to pick up a missing journo, so we take the opportunity to watch the peloton going blasting past on their way to Willunga for the first time.
Then, back in the car and back to the start line. Despite a bit of a look around, we can’t find the extra passenger and before an extensive search can be launched, we get a hurry up to get out of there. We are on the go again. A brief pause to let the tour caravan get their act together and it is up to the finish on the back roads.
We arrived at the top in plenty of time for me to walk down Willunga Hill and look at the crowd. A meet up time is discussed which means I have to be back on top of the hill for the finish or I will be walking home.
I start the trek down the hill. All 5kms of it.
It then occurs to me that if I am to get to the top of the hill before the end of the race, I better station myself a lot closer to the top that I am now. After the last 4 days walking a lot and carrying a 10kg back pack, I was starting to feel the pinch. The walk up the hill was hard graft. I decided to stop at the flam rouge, meaning I only had to go up 1km to get to the finish. Hopefully that would be plenty of time given the peloton would have to do a lap of Willunga Hill.
There were hundreds if not thousands of cyclists going by. It was great to see all these people tackling the climb the pros would be on later that day.
I hope this bloke had used some anti chaff cream.
I was admiring the bikes going by when I heard a funny pop sound. I looked around and could see some smoke coming out of a car on the hill. Then I noticed the flam rouge arch. It was getting saggy. Then it was drooping badly. Before too long it was on the road, blocking all passage up the hill.
They managed to get it off the road and cleaned up before the riders came through for the first time.
Once the peloton had gone through, I headed off to the top of the hill for the finish. Along the way I got a few photos.
Once I got to the top, I could see just how large the crowd was.
And how many of them weren’t eating lamb or pork rolls!
“norbs?” I was lucky I heard this one. I turned around and there was Steve McKiernan, another Twitter friend. He was good enough to take this photo.
I then spied a position that I thought I could get a reasonable shot of the finishers as they crossed the line.
As it turned out, when people thought Gerro was a chance they flooded in to the sot in front of me and the best I could manage of him at the finish was this shot.
The place went up as one. An Aussie winning the stage on Australia Day. You beauty.
I have to mention Tom-Jelte Slagter. What a week he is having. Did anyone pick him to have any chance this week?
The riders filed past and I saw Kimberly Wells doing and interview with the ABCs Peter Walsh.
Some more photos of riders before heading back to the car to meet Ian, Rob and Sophie.
Sophie and I had a while to wait, so she thought she would do some work on here reports for the day.
It was then back into the car for the trip back to Adelaide.
When we got back, Rob invited me in to the Hilton for a beer. It was great to finally have a chat with him. Whilst we were in the bar having a beer, he spoke to, and introduced me to Shane Bannon (GreenEDGE manager), Matt Lloyd, Jonathon Cantwell, Serge Pauwels and Roger Vaughan. It was an interesting way to end a terrific day.
I would like to thank Rob for the opportunity and hope the articles I write for his magazine make people as happy as I was today.
Tomorrow is the final day. I cant wait.