If you’d stopped Jack Bauer’s season prior to the Tour of Britain, by his own admission he would have not graded his 2016 very highly. By the end of it though it was nothing short of a roaring success after a major breakthrough.
Jack Bauer had worked phenomenally hard after a 2015 to forget. The Commonwealth Games silver medallist broke his femur in the Tour de France last year and faced months off the bike, trying to get back to race fitness again. He did, but only found himself facing setback after setback. With his contract up for renewal at the end of 2016, Bauer needed and wanted to perform at Cannondale-Drapac after injury had prevented any results of any description for so long. But time and again he missed out as he was overlooked for selection for the Giro d’Italia, then overlooked for selection for the Tour de France, then overlooked for selection for the Olympic Games and Vuelta a Espana.
Looking like he simply could not catch a break, Bauer headed to the Tour of Britain and took his place in a field that included Dimension Data’s Steve Cummings and Mark Cavendish, ONE Pro Cycling’s Dion Smith, Orica-BikeExchange’s Caleb Ewan and more.
In stage 5 a 205km lumpy course awaited the riders. After many riders stated their intent to get into the break of the day, it was Bauer who made it happen along with Erick Rowsell, Amael Moinard, Johnny McEvoy and Javier Moreno. It appeared to be an inspired move as the break built an advantage that peaked at over five minutes. That was not unexpected though, as the likes of Dimension Data, Lotto Soudal and LottoNL-Jumbo were doubtless confident that they could reel them in.
It appeared too, that everything would come back together. 10km to go the gap was 1 minute, 6km to go it was just 40 seconds; but it was here that things either stalled for the bunch or revitalised for the break. Whatever the case the front of the peloton just couldn’t catch the remnants of a group that had been attacking each other in the final 6km.
With the peloton breathing down their necks Moinard led but the kick that Bauer was able to call on was enough to secure a breakthrough win; that couldn’t have come at a better time. In a week where good news just kept coming Bauer’s way he was also announced as leader of the New Zealand team for the world championships and one of the new signings for Etixx-Quick Step.
Prior to Britain a big stamp of disappointment could easily have been placed over the 2016 season. Now Bauer has reason to smile; and so do we.