Stage 2 would be the toughest of the race with 65 km’s of Brecon Beacon trails and 1500 metres of climbing. The TORQ team started together at the back of the field along with the other top riders including one rider from Belgium. After a few minutes warm up on the tarmac it was time to get racing so Josh and me took to the front of the group towing along all of the general classification competitors and passing by riders who’d started ahead of us.
After 4 km’s we turned of the tarmac and the fireroad turned upwards as we hit the first climb of the day, it was only a gentle gradient but enough of a temptation for me to put down some power and test the legs of the other riders. As we entered the steepest section of this first climb I gapped the group and forged on ahead over the top of the hill. Turning into the next climb I could see the group still together not far behind working hard to close the gap so I kept my head down and put in a big effort up the next steep climb.
The singletrack today was amazing fun either traversing along the side of valleys with amazing views or plummeting down rocky sketchy descents. The singletrack was a real skills tester if you wanted to ride at speed and the first boulder field descent I’m sure would have surprised many riders.
(All photos from race organiser)
After this descent at around 15 km’s the course turned right onto the next climb, riding in the top 5 at the time Josh missed the race arrows and took a wrong turn loosing time and contact with the group. Another mistake later on cost Josh further time and effort. Elsewhere Matt was riding well until a snapped chain stopped his progress.
Today’s route had a couple of hike a bike sections which sounded like a great challenge, could they be ridden? The first of these sections was pretty rocky and I think if we hadn’t been racing it would be a great climb to practise technical skills on and I think could be beaten. The second hike a bike though which was 55km’s into the stage was overgrown with ferns and too steep to even attempt.
At the top of this final hike a bike was a fantastic view of the Welsh countryside and the final descent back to the arena. This descent was fast, left untapped to allow multiple lines, and had plenty of sheep to dodge! Just like the rest of the stage it was great fun and after 3 hours 14 seconds I rolled over the finish line to take the win of stage 2. In the classifications I hold the overall GC lead, whilst Josh is 3rd under 30, and Matt is top 10 in the overall classification.
Tomorrow’s final stage is another 65kms in the Brecon Beacon hills.