Tour of Brunei Race Report - Stage 1 and 2
Stage 1 – 156km
A challenging day for the whole EHBS team today. Topping 40 degrees over 150kms with an average speed of 42kms and relentless attacks from the 4km mark, there was pain to be had all round!
Steve and Eddy spent much of the stage covering attack after attack after attack, and eventually Hexzha managed to get away in a small group, wining the second intermediate sprint and finishing 13th for the day. Not far behind, Eddy had managed to get himself into a decent chase group, almost catching Hexzha’s group and finishing about 40 seconds behind him.
By the end of the day Samai lost time suffering from severe cramps. The heat was too much of a shock to Neil Stummer, suffering from a bad case of heat stroke at the end of the day and vomiting for the next few hours.
Stage 2 – 143km
Another fast day today but this time some rolling hills to make them hurt a little more. As yesterday, it was extremely hot and the attacks started from the gun. By the 20km mark, a group of 9 riders including Steve Hedley managed to stay away, at one point with a 5 minute lead.
Everything seemed to be going well and the boys looked comfortable, feeding often and keeping hydrated. Then at the 70km mark, just as we were driving from the peleton to the lead group to feed Steve, the radio screams ‘Team Eddy Hollands – Puncture. Number 93’. … Bugger! That’s Neil!
Crossing our fingers that the Neutral Service car had done their job, the peleton pass us and we wait… and wait... and wait.. and eventually Neil comes. The timing could not have been worse with the bunch leading up to the KOM and the attacks starting again.
So with about 15kms of motor pacing and a very sticky bottle, the radio screams “Team Eddy Hollands – Puncture. Number 97” … Bugger! That’s Will Heath! Sorry Neil… here’s some food… we gotta go!
So we speed up to find the Neutral Car changing Will’s wheel (they got it right this time) and he made a good chase through the rolling hills and managed to get back to the bunch, just as Samai started to go backwards.
A bit of motor pacing to try and get Sami through the hills, unfortunately each time the gradient increased his cramping came back with a vengeance. Then the radio screams “CRASH” Team Eddy Hollands – Rider down. Number 94” … Bugger! That’s Hexzha! Sorry Samai… here’s some food… we gotta go!
As we got to Hexzha he was back on the bike and chasing hard, but we were still in the hills and the bunch was going fast! More motor pacing and very sticky bottle we got him back to the convoy... Finally, success!
With Steve and Eddy starting a hard chase, eventually everyone got back together and it came down to a bunch sprint. An extremely technical lead up to the sprint with a couple of right angle turns and a steep little climb in the last KM, things got a very messy. Hexzha got pushed into the dirt on the last turn taking him out of sprint contention and the elbows and pushes of the Asian riders spooked Big Will out of his sprint, finishing up with 23rd.
Unfortunatley we lost Samai, abandoning the race due to the non-stop cramping. Neil Stummer did an impressive 60km solo Time Trial, finishing the stage in within the time cut!
We're hoping out luck will change soon.