The Tour of Friendship cycling race is an annual event held in May in the region of Bangkok Thailand. Asia’s biggest amateur race attracts around 300 competitors from Junior to Senior categories competing over five days and over 500 kilometres.
Marlon competed in the 2011 edition, lucky to be invited to join the ANZA Mavericks cycling team hailing from Singapore. As a new member of the team the role was one of supporting the team leader for general classification (GC) performance in the 30s age group.
The race consisted of five stages:
Day 1 – 7km Individual Time Trial
Day 2 – 140km Road Race
Day 3 – 140km Road Race
Day 4 – 150km Road Race
Day 5 – 95km Road Race
The stand out moment of the tour was the fifth day of racing. Up until this day the team of nine riders was yet to find its rhythm. A close knit bunch of riders from Singapore with two additional riders from Australia the team had had some varying results. The GC contender was in top 10 and the team was keen to at least achieve a podium result on one stage.
What transpired in detail on the 5th day was evidence of the benefit of setting a broad team objective with individual goals and roles laid out to assist in the achievement of that objective. ANZA Mavericks objective was a podium place for the GC rider.
The night before the fifth stage word got around about the plan. Each rider was assigned a role: Break Chaser, Protector, Stage Winner.
The gun went off. The race was incredibly fast from the start with many eager contenders to break away on what was considered a short stage. Out of the 40 or so competitors a break of 10 quickly formed within the first few kilometres and at 50kph was away. Behind in the peleton the Break Chasers got to work. Within another five kilometres the peleton was one again.
Attacks spewed forth time and time again, it was relentless. So too were the Break Chasers, hunting down each and every escapee. The Stage Winner and Protectors remained firm in their presence near the front of the main peleton. As the peleton tired and the breaks were becoming more effective, the strategy modified slightly to get our GC in a break. The ANZA Break Chasers had performed brilliantly but approaching the last third of the race, they were tiring.
At this time, the stronger riders were becoming more obvious. Sensing this the Protectors awareness became heightened. A break again escaped, this time with one of the ANZA members in tow. The Break Chasers breathed a sigh of relief, the GC sat tight.
The ANZA team now worked to ensure the GC rider remained safe in the main peleton and that the time gap between the bunch did not grow too big. The remaining Protectors also ensured that any additional break attempts were shutdown or disturbed.
As the final kilometre approached, the break was down the road just out of reach and GC was near the front of the main peleton, the performance was almost finished with the potential for podium within reach.
Crossing the finish line, spent from five days of physical exertion in 35c+ temperatures, climbing over 3000m of altitude and competing over 500kms the team gathered under the tent at the top of Khun Dan dam.
ANZA Mavericks had achieved its performance potential, a 5th placed podium finish for the final day and GC protecting a top ten finish overall. As a team, the objectives were achieved, as individuals the roles and goals had been executed almost to perfection. A great example of people joining together with a common goal, strategy to achieve and tactics to employ to reach their mark.
A big thanks to the ANZA Mavericks for a brilliant opportunity.
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