Saturday, 11 May 2013



Length -138km
Climbing - 3108Metres
Weather - hot and sunny and up to 33
Stage Place - 7th
Overall Place - 7th

Today was the day...I had great legs.  Cyclists will know what I mean but I just felt on fire and super strong.  We started again at 9am and within 3km there was only three of us.  Marco, Fanie and me. Michiel who we'd been riding with was gone.  He caught us at the first gate and we waited a bit but with another few KMs he was gone again.  I found out later he had pulled out at the first checkpoint complaining of stomach issues.  We have had a bunch of people not feeling well.

Marco wasn't the best either so me and Farnie were pacing him well.  It was a horrible head wind but we did well to make a lot of time.  We lost Marco at 50km or so on nothing to steep.  He just did his elegant fast pedal and was gone. Farnie dropped his chain so we waited a bit.  We had caught Scott so it was just the three of us from here.  The plan was to stick together till the big hills at the end and then let each rider to the own thing.

We caught Francisco next and it was quickly just four of us.  At the 65km hill which was approx 6km long I felt good and just sat at the front.  We crossed over a road and I looked back and they we all gone.  I climbed the last of the climb which was quite steep and turned the wrong way promptly.  I got back on track and they still weren't there so it was time to press on.  What followed was a long hard day on the bike.  Paced myself well and just put on fast cruise mode with heart rate close on 130bpm. There were some points were you could see a long way back and they were no where in sight so best just to press on.

I stopped for water at 95 km as scheduled and left quickly.  I caught various other riders and went straight past them.  I hit the first big climb at around 105km.  It was probably worse this year.  It was steep hot and what was a forest was just strewn with gum tree leaves and branches.  I could see three people behind me on the climb and Malcolm from South Africa came past me.  I caught home again on the descent and then disaster struck.

No gears...did a quick stop and rear mech cable snapped by the mech.  It was two speed from here with small and large ring only.  I still had 25km or so to go and there was one big hill to still make it up. I stopped by a TransPortugal car and jury rigged the mech.  Wound in the limit stop as far as I could.  That put me in about the 14 tooth at the back.  I rode like this spinning away in small ring on hills and big ring on the flats also spinning away.

It went ok till the big climb.  No way I could do it.  I've been carrying a little rope around with me after seeing it being used very effectively last year on a few issues.  Today it got its use.  I tied the mech up into about the 28th cog on the back and span like crazy up the last big hill.  Made the top and removed the rope and back into the 14/15 and away I went.  I kept looking for the stalking pack but only had three single people come past me.  I had to stop and switch it back to the 28th once more with the rope but and remove again but after that cruise to the finish and spin like crazy.

Unbelievably I passed two of the people who passed me on the climb and I finished 7th.  Six would have been nice and I lost 15 mins due to this but hey...nothing else I could do.  I also missed a stop sign which comes with a 30 min penalty.

So one more day to go and feeling quite good.  Bummed about the penalty and where  I finish now is largely academic.  Not much changes on the last day.  I have 1 min in front of eighth and 8 mins in front of 9th.  Tomorrow will be you tough as they start in front so I will have to chase hard.  Lets hope the good legs are back...

Also Marco won today and set a new stage record.  Glad that I helped in the first 50km with this today as he's an awesome chap.  He moved into 2nd place on GC with this. (Which was later changed to 3rd because another rider stopped to help someone who fell and that person got given a time bonus for stopping)

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