3pm Monday 29th April
Is it Monday, yes I think so, the stage racing bubble has well and truly developed around us so not a lot else matters right now apart from eating, racing, and sleeping. The race organisers put the fear into us last night when briefing us about today’s stage and rightfully so. The time gaps today are going to be huge because the route didn’t suit group racing. The climbs were fierce and the descent even more fierce!
We are in the mountains now, within the first couple of kilometres the split occurred as we raced our way up a 20% gradient concrete climb, even before this the legs were stinging thanks to an over eager lead out tractor driver and the Europcar riders pushing the pace right from the start. We were on the wrong side of the split and ended up racing on our own the entire day after escaping on the long 20 kilometre descent near the start. We could see the lead group up ahead for most of the day but us on our own were no match for their pace. We did catch Kevin Evans on the penultimate climb which was a leg breaking 3 kilometre section with gradients up to 25%, it really was awful! This was then followed by the final climb which we assumed after 105 kilometres of riding would be an easy fireroad ascent, nope! A technical rocky very loose singletrack section which must have lasted about half an hour, ouch! It was fun though in a sick kind of way!
The descent made up for all the suffering today though, we might have climbed 1700 metres but we descended 2500 metres! The singletrack descents were probably the best trails I’ve ever ridden! I made sure I led into the first descent which dropped about 800 metres in altitude, it was a proper blast and put a good gap into everyone else apart from a Europcar rider who kept up but had to stop half way down because his hands were hurting so much from hanging onto the bars!
Anyway we had another good day and finished 5th in the men’s category, 6th overall as there was the super quick pro masters team in front of us.
Tomorrow according the race profile we race uphill for 90 kilometres, oh joy.
I ate 8 slices of banana bread at lunch today, the meals here continue to impress!