Well the day was nice and sunny and fairly warm. We had a late start at 10am but didn’t get to sleep in as the “hotel” was very small and quite noisy. In fact the hotel was closer to a B+B but still quite nice.
The first kilometre had a steep sharp little climb and from out bunch there was only 10 or so left. The pace slowed until the first climb and I was only 20 metres off the back. Straight into a long downhill tarmac section and I was gone. The bunch of five to six that were left were going for it. We hit a narrow gorge at about 10Km and I had lots of fun bombing past riders that were walking down. Very technical and tight and twisty. The climb back up was the first real hike a bike section of the event so far. Still had the group in site but had to let them go.
Rode from here with a Portuguese chap and a South African (Stuart) also out of the group. Stuart had crashed somewhere earlier but caught us back on the first 6 Kilometre climb. The pair of them left me for dead in the next small village at about 30km. A brutal climb to the top of a castle on a hill where another Portuguese rider Rodrigo was filling his water bottles. I did the same and jumped back on. I waited for Rodrigo and was very glad I did at about 40km I was spent.
I was not in the best shape by now and basically spent the whole day clinging to his wheel. I kept telling him to leave me but he stayed. We made fairly good time but I just had not power and couldn’t do anything about it. We passed a lot of riders and the terrain was fairly flat but hard work. Easier than then mud but just not easy to get a rhythm going. Especially when you feel like rubbish.
We passed a few riders who were higher on the GC than me in with about 30km to go. Felt good but Rodrigo finally left me at 15km to go. It was a long technical climb which I thought I did fairly well on. I was cruising down the other side and two riders who were lower than me and I’d left 50km before me came through like a steam train. I hung with them for 10 Km or so and just couldn’t do anything more. I dropped off again and they finished a few mins in front of me.
So I finished 18th again today but actually managed to climb to 16th on the GC. Fairly happy with that although I’d rather not suffer like that again. Tomorrow is a big day and has two huge climbs in it up to nearly 1800 meters. One of them is 18km long. It’s expected to be cold, foggy and raining so I think we will all suffer. The plan is to take it much easier and just let the fast guys go tomorrow. The last hill at 75 km with is 18km long is where it will matter.