In His Own Words: Sport Director Martin Barras on EnergieWacht Tour Stage 4

Sun 7 Apr 2013

Sport Director Martin Barras has taken the bull by the horns with his daily race reports. Rather than share the end game at the start, we will leave the tale of the fourth stage of the EnergieWacht Tour in his capable hands. In his own words, Barras tells you about the best day of racing yet for the ORICA-AIS squad in Holland.

Well, some days you have a race and some days you have A RACE!

On the face of it, the fourth stage of the EnergieWacht Tour looks just like the other three road stages. Kirsten Wild (Argos-Shimano) blows everyone away at the finish to take the win and the time bonus. Yet for ORICA-AIS this was our finest performance yet, and we have taken an important step to achieve our objective – get Loes on the final podium.

As we’ve discussed in earlier reports, we had to contend with Kirsten Wild making a run for the podium by accumulating time bonuses. As there are more than enough bonus seconds still available for Wild to overtake Loes in third position and Wild has dominated all the sprints, we knew this was a likely scenario unless we could isolate Wild or promote a breakaway that would swallow up the bonuses. We stated this as our objective – and we knew it was and is a difficult challenge for us to meet.

There was another alternative that we did not discuss publicly. We could also try to isolate Lisa Brennauer (Specialized-lululemon). The German sat in second place on GC [general classification], only 9” ahead of Loes.

We spent the stage attempting to get breaks up the road as we put pressure on Wild’s team in hopes of isolating her. Shara Gillow got up the road in a break of three for awhile before mid-race. The move was eventually brought back, and the ensuing counter attacks meant that for the second half of the race, the bunch was perpetually broken into bits only to be reformed and split again – and again and again and again. This was perfect for us. The endless permutations of the front groups allowed us to pick and choose which breaks to ride and which ones to leave alone.

A really important element for us today was the ability to place a third rider in the front groups as this gave us a much broader tactical palette. To her credit, on only her fourth day of professional racing, Nettie Edmondson provided us with that third option. Her presence allowed us to fully exploit any deficiencies in our opponents.

Wild was solid as a rock. When a break that included Nettie and Lizzie Armitstead went with 30 kilometres and put Wild’s bonus second opportunity under threat, Wild put it all on the line and attacked the second group. Loes was not going to miss this, and got on Wild’s wheel. The real teaser here is that Brennauer proved unable to follow. We knew Brennauer had been suffering earlier in the race when a previous break driven hard by Loes and Gracie had already put her in difficulty.

When the group that contained Loes and Wild bridged up to the front group with Nettie, Loes and Nettie drove hard to the finish. The final 25 kilometres became a team time trial between the two front groups. Eventually, Loes’ group managed to put 38” into Brennauer’s group. This means were are in a position to stay on the podium even if Wild overtakes Loes with bonifications during the final stage tomorrow.

I am very proud of the girls today. They turned themselves inside out to achieve an outcome that is pleasing to us all. They are in the hurt box right now, but we are all excited about the prospecct of finishing the job tomorrow.

Tune in then!

Click here to view video footage from stages 3b and 4 on RLTV.

We have a signed ORICA-AIS jersey up for grabs. One last day to earn entry into the prize pool by wishing our EnergieWacht Tour team good luck on Facebook or Twitter. Details here.