Last day. A bit of a relief. The bodies tired and sick of eating to fuel the body. Everything aches but Only 4 or so hours and 99km of riding to go to make it.
We started again at 10am and thankfully the weather was a bit cooler. The scenery down this end of the country is not so pretty as further north. Not sure why all the Brits come to the Algrave except for the weather.
We had a small steep climb right at the beginning. Not my favourite. Some of the big guns literally took off. They were gone within the first 5 metres never to be seen again. I made it up over the climb with the usual guys who were all in the top 10 GC. There was only five of us today. I was conscious I had 2.5 mins to make on John who was above me on GC.
At about 20Km I though we’d caught him as he started each day 6 mins in front of me. I pushed on and led the group up a few climbs to make sure he didn’t grab onto the coattails and get a free ride. The boys were telling me to calm it down a bit and I should have listened a bit more. At about 45km we caught the rest of the group that started 6 mins in front of us. Lo and behold there was John. I did a double take as though we’d passed and left him 25Km earlier. I had the wrong person earlier in the day!!! Just shows the mental fatigue that creeps into it.
I was fairly broken at this point and the next climb straight off the back of the boys. It was just ride to the finish now. I knew I just had to keep a steady pace to keep 16th.
The route took us down onto a beach. We had to run 700metres across it and then go straight back up some hills. Very demoralising. Once you get to the top it seems to be straight back down to the bottom and on the way down you see a big climb in front of you and sure enough straight back up again.
I ran out of water at 80km and was suffering. Along came Antonio running like a big Portuguese steam train. I hooked onto him and we literally and we had a tail wind and were peddling about as fast as you could go. Big ring and smallest sprocket downhill for 15km. The last 5km was long. I let Antonio go with 2-3Km left and was happy just to roll over the finish line in 26th place for the stage.
Very glad to have made it to the finish. I stayed in 16th Place on GC and the few guys that I rode with most days were as high as 2nd on the GC. Most were in the 5-10 range. Felt very sorry for Rodrigo who had turned his GPS on in the garage and not got a satellite lock. His GPS had turned off and they penalised 5 hours. He slipped to 15th on GC because of this.
The feeling of having made it has not really sunk in just yet. The body is tired and just needs a rest. I’m sure it will happen in a few days. Only 40 from 60 actually finished. Temperatures ranged from 4 degrees to 40 on the bike and I’ve never been so hot or cold or stressed whilst riding a bike before. Most of it is a mental game rather than physical.