Laurence Pithie may have been visibly frustrated after the final stage of the Tour Down Under in Adelaide when his attack from the leading group was pulled back in with less around 600m to go, but there was nothing but joy on the Geelong waterfront a week later when the rider from New Zealand claimed his first WorldTour victory at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
That stage in South Australia at the top of Mount Lofty last Sunday was followed by phone calls to family and friends as the Groupama-FDJ rider from New Zealand digested and processed the frustration of coming so close, analysing how he could have played it differently after finishing fifth as he was swamped by the catching four.
“That’s part of the sport, it’s all about reflection and learning from possible mistakes and how you can move forward,” said Pithie.
And, a week later, he moved forward in the very best of ways.
”At the end of the TDU I was super disappointed in the moment but looking back on it I think I rode really well. I had to make a split second decision … my decision was to attack, looking back at it maybe I should have waited you know but that’s racing and hindsight is the best thing.”
Hindsight is something Pithie’s rivals will have to grapple with this time because, perhaps having learnt from the scenario that played out the week before, Pithie played his hand to perfection at an edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race that came down to a reduced group, belting toward the line with attacks flying before the frenetic finishing charge.
“I was staying towards the front. Those attacks were going and I knew I just had to be patient,” said Pithie, perhaps remembering the lessons of Mount Lofty. “I knew I couldn’t be the one that closed them otherwise I wouldn’t have the legs for the sprint.
“I just had to wait, wait, wait. Got a little bit boxed in towards the end when everyone opened up around the outside but I managed to find a gap and work my way back.”
The result was that Pithie charged through in the tightest of finishes. There was not only waiting during the racing, but also after just to be sure the prize was his after the close run sprint with Natnael Tesfazion (Lidl-Trek). This time, however, the result went his way and the rider from New Zealand ended up walking away from his Australia racing block with three top five stage finishes at the Tour Down Under, fifth at the Surf Coast Classic but most importantly, of course, that…