FEED zone collisions, illness and red hot pace all reared their ugly heads at the Road Nationals for former Bathurst Cycling Club duo Will Hodges (who grew up at Greenethorpe) and Harry Bryant but they’re hoping to build off the experience against the nation’s best.
Both riders were taking on the under 23 men’s road race at Ballarat on Saturday but misfortune for Hodges towards the end of the event saw him finish 37th while Bryant failed to finish in his first step up from the under 19s age group.
A chest infection in the lead up to the nationals added to the difficulty level for Orange-based Bryant, who on Friday also couldn’t complete a fast paced criterium.
Bryant, who had suffered a horror crash at last year’s Blayney to Bathurst, said he took plenty away from the testing experience in under 23s.
“I was heading in unfit after an infection and a bad year with the B2B and this was my first race back so it was a good experience,” he said.
“I was going in to see how many laps I could do but I didn’t last long with the bunch. I lasted six laps before I got pulled out. That was 60kms so I was pretty happy with that.
“The pace was so high. Just ridiculous. I thought I was one of the first to get dropped and there were already 15 out the back.”
The race was taken out in a sprint by Nick White ahead of Michael Potter and Samuel Jenner.
Hodges had managed to get himself in the leading group coming into the closing laps of the 127.6km event around Mount Buninyong before someone else’s crash at the feed zone left him with nowhere else to go.
The Greenethorpe native had failed to complete the race in his first nationals attempt in 2018 but on Saturday he returned to Ballarat with much bigger ambitions, only to have his hopes cruelled by an incident out of his control.
“I was riding towards the front of the front group but went down in a feed zone crash where someone went down in front of me. I was left with nowhere to go,” he said.
“By the time I got back up and on the bike I was 30 to 40 seconds down on the front bunch.
“I chased for a lap to get within 10 seconds by the final climb but I couldn’t get back on once they started racing up that last climb.”
The race was the first competitive ride for Hodges with his new Oliver’s Real Food Racing and, despite the misfortune at nationals, he’s keen for a big season of racing.