MONCHIQUE > SAGRES
Climbing - 1302 m
Weather - 30ish and sunny
Stage Place - 3rd
Overall Place - 3rd
The last day. The day I dreaded. I had Peter start 19 mins in front of me and I was approx 18 mins in front on GC. I had to make at least a minute and hopefully a bit more in case of any issues. I'd lost a place in GC last year in this stage and always have found it tough.
Bit of fun on the start line with Jose. He picked up a hammer on the start line and said today we put the hammer down. We started at 10am and promptly made a wrong turn. I was first up over the climb 3km from the start which was a blessing for me. I'm not slow in the climbs but sometimes being five metres behind someone else is five metres to far to get back to them.
Jose did indeed put the hammer down. Don't know how fast we were going but I was the first to crack at close on 25 km. Aaron and Luis were with me and Luis was having a much better day. Luis kept saying to me to clam down and stop being nervous. I guess it was showing with my riding. They both came off the back at a similar time to me. Jose is about the same speed as us on the flats, but when it comes to the hills he just powers up them like they are not there. It's fine for the first few but with limited recovery between not many of us can hang on.
We were given a time gap not long after this and told we were only seven mins. Luis wanted to congratulate me but I was not ready at this point. Still had 70km to go and I was not going to let this slip away. Next time gap was six minutes and I knew we could afford to calm down and do a bit more consistent riding rather than blow us all apart.
We rolled through the checkpoint one and asked and Peter and Eric had not gone through. Confusion and doubt followed as we had not passed them on the trail. There were only three riders left in front by the 2nd check point Raffelle, Jose and Kate.
We hit the beach for the long run across the sand. Exhausting at the best of times but with a bike and a steep climb at the end at was awful. I knew that there were only a few more climbs to go and we could settle down. Maria ( my masseur for the week) was at the last CP going mental at us when we passed and once again confirmed that Peter had not passed. We set a nice steady pace to bring us all home together. We caught Raffelle somewhere here and the last 20km were torture. Normally fast roads with a tailwind were rough rutted roads with lots of sand and a headwind.
We hit the cliffs above Sagres which meant only 5km to go. I had thought I'd let the other two go fight for third place on the stage as they certainly helped me in the 20-50km range when I was struggling. I'd done enough after this though to redeem myself. It was touch and go but Aaron and Luis could both have jumped a place in GC if we had gone harder. Once we got to the last KM there was no way they were crossing the line before me.
Very happy with how it all went. Still a little disbelief that I had done it. The self doubts over winter training and my ability put at rest for a while. It turns out that Peter had made a wrong turn somewhere again but I think we would have got him somewhere anyway.
Been an incredible adventure once again to have made it for the third year in a row. Lowest place on stages was 6th and highest 2nd (equal time). 3rd overall is just amazing and I have to thank those around me for believing in me and helping me. The support from those people ( and you know who you are) is what makes the difference.
Well done from all of us here. Been following the race everyday, all be it wasn't as easy this year to follow as they must have changed the web interface.ReplyDelete