Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A story worth retelling... David McKenzie and that Giro stage win, 11 years ago...

It didn't get much notice in the local Aussie mass media back then but it was certainly noted by the cycling community. Not just a stage win but a mammoth effort to ride away solo and win alone, almost a minute ahead of the pack. Hard enough to do that in a club crit let alone in a Grand Tour...

SBS: Cycling Central : L’Amore di Teramo
The stage was 182km in length. McKenzie took flight just 18km in.

Some stories say you made a bet with Robbie McEwen, who was riding for Farm Frites at the time...

“It wasn’t so much a bet. They started the stage (with the) usual attacks, left, right and centre. And then I rolled up beside him, and I was trying to get through to attack. By then everyone had called a truce; they called ‘piano’.

“And they were all across the road, and I said (to McEwen): ‘I want to go! I’ve got good legs, I want to attack!’ And he just said, ‘Go! Duck up the inside here. Jump out.’ You know what Robbie’s like – he’s like, ‘F**k ‘em, just do it!’ That was the conversation. That was pretty much what was said.”

SBS: Cycling Central : L’Amore di Teramo
the peloton completely miscalculated the strength and tenacity of the blond-haired boy from Ballarat, and McKenzie won the stage by 51secs. “Nothing beats it. You wish you could go back and have the last 300m of the stage. Every now and then, I wish I could have it just once more,” he told me in our October 2005 interview, days after he announced his retirement from professional cycling. On the 22nd of that month and following the finish of the Melbourne to Warrnambool, a race he won four years previous, ‘Macka’ called it a day.
Some more background...
McKenzie heralded his coming of age with a career highlight by winning stage seven of the 2000 Giro D'Italia in a 164km solo break-away. He capped off a great year by being named Australian Male Road Cyclist of the Year.
And another retelling of that stage win....
Where Are They Now? -David McKenzie
Dave talks about crossing the finish line as if it somehow broke a spell, and recalls Jens Voigt’s comment once about it being a special moment that only the rider can enjoy and understand. Dave is too positive for regrets, but he would love to experience those last few hundred metres again.

The little Aussie Espresso crossed the line 51 seconds clear and was rugby tackled off the bike by an exhuberant support team. The rest is a blur, except the vivid memory that each and every one of the Aussies racing that day all came and hugged him, sharing his special moment.