In stage 1 of the Tour of Gila, there was two sprint bonuses along the 160km route that finished with a long, steep climb. In most stage races, the first stage finishes with a sprint, so the stage winner usually takes the sprint jersey but with the KOM at the end of stage 1, whoever took the bonus sprints would take the first green jersey.
With this in mind, my aim was to get into a break away and attempt to take some bonus points. After 20km, the peloton allowed 4 riders, including myself, to escape off the front. They eased the pace and we gained an advantage of over 12 minutes. At the first bonus sprint, I went for the points and surprisingly, no one responded. At the 2nd bonus sprint, the break allowed me to roll over the line at the front, securing the sprint jersey.
For the rest of the stage, I worked as best I could with the break before being caught at the base of the climb with 10km to go. I crept up the climb and finished well behind the eventual winner.
If you win a local race back in Australia and you simply see the commissaire to collect your prize or at most, stand up in front of a small group of people for applause. No fanfare, no national anthem and no podium girls.
At the Tour of Gila, winning the green jersey meant that I had to get up on the podium and pose with podium girls. I had no idea what I was doing.
As I stood on the podium, the podium girls came up to my side for the standard kiss on the cheek podium photo. Problem was, I was taller then the podium girls and standing on the highest step of the podium. This is the result...
Back home in Australia, my wife heard the news and saw the photo. Her first words were not, 'congratulations' or 'well done'. Her first words were simply, 'Get a tighter grip on the jersey and less grip on the podium girls'.