Veronica, of the Australian duo Veronica and Nathan, gives us the
quintessential criterium report! Nathan's riding Redlands with
Minute Maid/Dasani/La Grange on loan from Colavita Bolla.
Photos by Kraig Willett.
Welcome to the Redlands Criterium...
Saturday 5 April, Stage 4, 90 minutes.
Standing by the barriers, amongst the excited local crowd, I watch with
anticipation, nerves and that Aussie feeling of pride. Chookman (that's Nathan
Russell) riding with his La Grange team - Victor, Josh and Geoff. Soaking up the
atmosphere - the weather is cloudy, sun still shining, cool breeze...and in the
distance BIG BEAR Mountain is looking down on the peloton, snow capped...nature
gonna give these riders stick....tail wind up the straight to the finish line,
Just as popular as Pamela Anderson's breasts, team Saturn leads the strong
field of 125 riders...once again too, the renegade master, Nathan OíNeill, is
wearing the yellow jersey, the Tour leader from Australia who rides with the
Saturn team. After 4 laps into the race, Saturn is in their dominating train, 5
or so riders steaming along in their bright team colours...the tempo is fast
from the start...1 man break, Saturn, Prime Alliance...reel that rodent back
in...bunch back together.
I try to find La Grange boys amongst the rainbow of blur...Victor holding
strong in the front pack, Josh holding snug, Chook is way back in the pack...Iím
thinkin' HEY baby, WHAT are you doing???? Maybe itís his new strategy, heís just
fluffing his chicken wings??!! Behind Chook is Geoff, holding tight, all riders
feeling the heat of the dangerous corners, pot holes, and the pace of FULL
THROTTLE. Iím content sipping on my coffee, chowing down my honey BBQ protein
bar. Mmmm yummy, I think...
6 laps down, the commentator gets the crowd geeíd up, I join the bangin' on
the fence...I had to laugh out loud ...as I was by myself, going nuts...all I
needed was a pom pom, a few fire-throwing midgets...and a transvestite on fan
stilts...YERRR!!!! ROCK IT yer, rock it!!
Small break away, a Jelly Belly tooth pick breaks away...7 laps down...the
rider is pulled back in the peloton. Eight laps...La Grange holding their own,
keeping on their predator's wheel. As the whoosh of riders go by I notice the
grimace of pain in their faces, jaws dropped, cheeks puffing...and this is ONLY
the 8th lap..GEEZ Louise...WHAT THE...? The bunch is together. No one is letting
anyone go, the field is strong and frightening. La Grange is scattered through
out the pack, mixing it up. A few riders have blown chunks...the pace too heavy
and hot to handle...tempo UP...
When the riders flash by me and I wait for the next bout of carnage, I hear
the thumping fat bass of Paul Oakenfold...belting out those wicked house
tunes...Where's my pink pair of fluffy pumps, sequin mini and podium??...Want to
cut sick with some impressive dance moves...twirl...twirl, twist and twirl.
Comforting to see a La Grange rider up the front, centre, covering ALL
bases. The legs are pumped, faces are red, heart rate UP, like good sounds on
Sunday disco...atmosphere is great.
Victor, Josh...30 riders from the front..WHERE'S Chookman??? Behind, holding
comfortably in the pack with a Jelly Belly rider. Phew. Whipping past like a
whirlwind I see a red Specialised helmet - Chook picking up the pace. Prime
Alliance makes a counter attack. Chookman picking up the pedal stroke, getting
closer to the main assault...
NO Josh in sight, Victor still in the pack..Geoff struggling to hold his
own...the Tour has taken its toll. 7Up launching an attack...One rider away from
the field ...this is brutal...ALL endurance. Soaking it up...suffering is
contagious, spread throughout the field.
Healthnet, Saturn, Prime Alliance, Trek and Jelly Belly, La Grange mixing it
together, top 40 riders. An Aussie attack, a force to be reckoned with. Roland
Green, World Champion, pulls out....team saying heís sick ...coming down with
the flu. BOO HOO! Chook up, Victor up...Josh and Geoff out the hoop, a 2 man
ride - GO LA GRANGE. Rock the discotech. Iím thinking of a two piece feed at
KFC. OH, give me some twisties or a tim tam - these race food bars are givin'
Oh, back to the race. My favourite song is playing in the back ground, wish
all my friends were here, this song reminds me of Sandra...cutting sick at the
disco... BRING THAT BEAT BACK!!! SHIT Iím proud of Nathan, heís up there,
pushing those pedals with the best of these freaks. Chris Horner OFF the
front...heís a threat. The boss...DON'T let him get away, CHOOK!
42 minutes left...tempo is higher. Chook is in the top 20 fangin' around the
track...as he goes by he whips out this grin and makes this sexual face towards
me...ha! Okay honey, if you can do that, then WORK HARDER!!!
Top effort by Victor and Chookman, holding the La Grange assault...Chris
Horner from Saturn team flashes his wild coyote grin...thinkin heís the shit,
racing past the post...donít get too cocky, son, here comes the
cavalry...CAUGHT...another counter attack...36 minutes left. Schroeder Iron up
the front. La Grange holding strong...This is more interesting than a YMCA
HAMMER TIME! The pace is UP temp...AGAIN. CRIKEY, someone give me a shot of
Tequila. Nathan is up with the field - Victor is half way down, everything is
tight. The Saturn freight train is pounding the pavement sitting in
Guns at the front
28 min remaining...Chook is moving up - I think I might pee myself...Arrh.
Ahh, tail wind. 25 minutes to go...Chook is in the top 20 pack, Victor top 40
riders...Peloton getting spat out everywhere like bad wine!!! Saturn once again
leading the field, showing their dominating stance. Jelly Belly clustered
together. RABOBANK attack...OH, LEFT FIELD. What the...? Where did he come from,
Chookman, the Aussie battler shovin', showing NO mercy, fangin' it down the
straight 10 laps...riders getting tossed, HOOPED, like thereís no tomorrow.
Positions are getting sorted, pushing, shoving, a good back hander wouldnít go
astray!! 9 laps remaining...Chook is up there...top 15. Ok, I may be biased but
heís on form. The excitement in my belly is like my first day at school (I slept
in my uniform...before dawn I was up and waiting at the front door with Mickey
Mouse bag in hand and ready to go..BRING IT ON, MUM!!!).
5 laps to go...Chook keeping his tempo. I see pain in his face (ha, maybe
heíll know what giving birth will be like!).† 4 laps to go, Marty Nothstein,
Gold Medal Champ...Nathan is holding his wheel, and what a good wheel to
hold...ha! Victor off the back of the pack, Saturn at the front, Chook has
dropped back by two riders...C'mon Aussie, C'MON!
Second to last corner...
1 lap to go...Ok, Iíve peed myself.....SNAP, BINGO...WHOOSH...Charles
Dionne takes the race like a lilídemon. Chook finishes top 30ish...a wicked
ride from the thunder from down under...and this is just the start of our
Until we meet the road again - hereís to fast racers, hot sunshine, great
friends. Seize the day, my fellow bike riders...
--Veronica (the naughty half of Chookman, Nathan Russell)