2013 Battle on the Border, National Road Cycling Series
Everyone knows Australia isn’t a small place, we could actually fit most of Europe into our wide land and still take a walk around the edge.
I mean, the average residential property size is about 350 square meters. Some people in Hong Kong live in apartments smaller than my modest sized bedroom.
This vast spread allows us to have an immense diversion within our native flora and fauna.
Take yesterday’s ride for example. Two hours steady through the foothills south of the Gold Coast.
We passed a huge range of tropical flowering trees, rainforest by the ocean and eventually bumped into a banana plantation, where avocados and quinces were fruiting too.
Our take-away haul was impressive and the passionfruit-guava aroma from the quinces is now running rife through the beachside apartment we’re occupying.
It’s amazing here but so different to Perth, Western Australia, 4,414km to my left where I live.
So, coming from the Woodside Tour de Perth last week to the Battle on the Border this week was a pleasant contrast.
Perth draws the sharp line between the green gum trees and the red clay pea gravel, whereas Queensland draws the line between Jurassic Park and Avatar.
So getting to the Battle on the Border, this National Road Series event no. 2, that scales the NSW and Queensland borders for four days and five stages.
You’re confronted with a blissful arena to race your bike.
Stage one punched out of Tweed Heads, where the famous D’Bah surf-spot sits, and cruised inland to the incessant slopes of Mount Warning.
This climb charges straight up into the depths of the Mount Warning National Park rainforest. In typical fashion, warmth and rain moistened nicely the majority of canvases and shoulders on the bitumen carving through the park and up to the peak.
This climb was fairly serious, by that I mean 95% of riders in the peloton would’ve had at least 27 teeth on their little-gears.
The peloton having assaulted the King of the Mountain classification over Buringbar Range 30km before, was dwindled to about 15 or 20 men and the race was decided from them.
Jack Haig from Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers won the stage, and his teammate Jai Crawford was second, commencing what was to be a convincing mincing of the race that Huon Salmon would undertake in stages to come.
Contrasting the sub 10km/h speeds up the ascent of Mount Warning was the 80-man-strong bunch sprint ending stage two.
Said finish provided Anthony Giacoppo (of the previously mentioned fish-hungry Tasmanian squad) with a platform to annihilate the field three bike lengths faster than second-place.
Stage three rendered itself as a pancake-flat time trial around the beautifully mono-cultured sugar cane fields that encapsulate the start town of Murwillumbah.
Despite chewing on some hand picked sugar-cane for an early morning kick, my performance wasn’t enough for the win.
The fish-mongers snapped up the first four places on the stage with another stellar performance.
Joe Cooper, national Kiwi-bro champion, won by more-than-a-few seconds over his companion Aaron Donnelly.
The men’s afternoon criterium was cancelled. The women’s race featured a less than optimal crash that left a woman immobile for thirty minutes.
By the time the men’s race was due to start it was decided that the course was too dark and the event was called off.
Whether or not the decision-making process of 15 minutes (thereabouts) actually led to the arrival of the darkness or not, is unclear.
The fifth and final stage of 99km contained three small climbs of 1-2km a piece, but more importantly featured a curiously dodgy finish: 3km of roundabouts followed by a 200m lap through a car park that doubled back on itself.
It was by far the ‘sketchiest’ finish I have ever seen, 2H pencil style sketchy.
After an aggressive stage that was equally as constant in attacks as it was in counter-attacks, the Drapac Professional Team were unsuccessful in their attempts for a stage win as the duo of Bernie Sulzberger and Robbie Hucker were outdone by an impressively explosive Scott Law.
After his first NRS stage win last week in the Tour de Perth, Law showed his prowess once again in the world’s most dangerous finish.
After a week of beauty among the palms and avocados of the Gold Coast, the 2013 Battle on the Border came to an end with the Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers securing first and second place.
Find Adam on Twitter: @adamsemple