Well I thought I had done OK yesterday and had finished in 20th place. After the GC was published I moved back to 19th!!! How disappointing.
In case I haven’t mentioned the reason is handicaps are applied. This means each day the old guys get to start up to an hour in front of me. Some of the woman get 45 mins. Kate is beating me for times on most stages. What this means each day is we have to set out and chase all the bunches or people in front each day and it can be difficult to judge just how fast to ride. It also means that get it wrong on a day or someone has a good stage it’s easy to go backwards on GC quite quickly.
Today’s stage was the biggie. 166Km of it and it was hot. I mean very hot. I measured 39 degrees on my Garmin today. We started again at 9am and it was already 20. By 10 it was 35 and by 2-3 it had hit 39.
The start of the day was a 2km steep climb up a roman road. Not my favourite way to start. It tales a while for the body to warm up and I prefer to start slow. Thankfully the bunch missed the turn and I hit the climb first. I have to say I did very well. To the top in 4th place happy that I would make the break with 3-4 other fast riders behind me.
Of course luck doesn’t happen all the time. On the way down the other side I had my first mechanical issue so far. A front flat. It took me at least 5 mins and probably more to throw a tube in and get on my way. I think I was now dead last !!!
A very low point followed. 163km in heat to ride on my own...There were also 36 gates to open and close. After my crash a few days ago I’ve got a very sore but probably owned bruised rib and I don’t have the strength to open and close the gates on my own either.
I rode steadily on my own passing single riders at a time. I wasn’t in a hurry but was looking for something to get me out of the hole my mind was in. Unbelievably I caught a small group with Antonio in. He is one place above me on GC and I was very glad to have made that group. There were 4 Portuguese riders and Edgar a Mexican. I lumbered along with them safe in the knowledge that at least I could have an easy day. I looked back after a bit and I was on my own. The Portuguese had stopped for whatever reason without telling us. I passed Stephen who was higher up the GC than me and sitting in the middle of the trail with a front flat.
At 40km I stopped at the days first water point having already drank at least 2 litres. Edgar passed me here and I caught him again and we spent till 90km together. At 93km we stopped for water and at a Cafe and threw another 1.5 litre of water in the camel back and had two cokes. Andrew who I’ve ridden with the last few days was just leaving. Edgar wasn’t quite ready but I’d waited enough so left to pursue Andrew.
Andrew has been super strong the last few days and had ridden away from me on the climbs a few times and beaten me. Myself and him teamed up and basically rode all the way to the end. We went through 2 more stops with more water and more coke at each. I think maybe 7-8 litres of fluid today!!!
The scenery was awesome and rolling green hills with big trees. Also lots of flowers out in the meadows. We also saw quite a few snakes and heard even more. Also lots of geckos and lizards out and many many cows with big horns. The bull that was making huge noises was interesting. Glad it was in the other field.
Andrew was struggling a lot more today. On one of the hills he was back a bit and I waited. The next hill he was off again so I thought I’d gun it. I’d forgotten that the stage ended in a steep climb but didn’t want Andrew to get the better of me. I had maybe 10 seconds on him by the convent which signalled the start of the 2km climb. I did Ok for a change up here and made about 4 mins on him by the end.
So I was 20th again today and move up to 17th on the GC. Fairly happy with this. Especially since it started so badly. Just shows that you should never give up.