Stage 4 was the second longest of the Tour being 144k.
Another flat stage (as they all are) however this one had 3 small climbs with gradient of 1-2% and were b/t 500 to 1k long. If anything was going to happen it was here.
Another big crash happened again and I had to lock it up again and thankfully this time stayed up and wasn't affected. The boys that went down, didn't get up so I heard, so I wish them well.
The stage was controlled by Drapac as they are leading the race. A few small attacks attempted to go early to no avail.
I actually tried to get into a break, however what I am learning is if the wrong people or the make up of the break is wrong, the break either shuts down or the peleton doesn't let it get away. On the garmin file, you can see the decrease in pace at the 2hr 15min mark where I go back to the car and then the increase in speed as I try to go of the front.
So trying to find the right break is hard. After the intermediate sprint, there were a flurry of attacks. Me, I was just tried to hang on as the legs were showing signs of a couple of big high intense days.
A trip back to the car at about 90k in (2hrs) in to the race to refill when Damo & Andrew (Team owner) advised that if I ever want to get into a break to go now as nothing was happening in the race and there was 2 guys up the road. I took the advice/challenge and worked my way to the front. One of the VIS riders took off, so I took off after him. I got to his wheel and to my disbelief there was the peleton on mine.
Come on guys, give me a spell here.
This took a fair bit out for my legs, 2 attacks at high 50kph and it was time to just get home, nothing silly. I knew the team plans, so there was no point getting in the way. A few of the boys on the gave me some stick for "attempting" to get in the break but also gave me some credit for trying and also being nearer to the front of the peleton vs at the back.
As the race was drawing to an end, I could really notice the pace increase as the teams with the sprinters all moved to the front to try and get the best position. The garmin file reflects this well as the last few k's really increase on what was a fast day.
As the speed lifted, all I could was think about was getting bunch time (crossing the finish line in the main field without any gaps in front of me) so I really worked hard on this.
The Heart Rate and the speed both climb as one and to get to the finish with the group was a great achievement for me. To do this on Stage 1 and 4 is a win for me.
What I learning more and more is that it is also mentally draining, you have to be switched on for every moment otherwise you can come down, hit a pot hole (like I did yesterday) or even a traffic island. Knowing where to sit in the bunch is also a learning experience as you can get shuffled back very quickly and it is actually harder at the back than what it is at the front.
Knowing when to go back to team car and feed is another thing. You can't afford to wait until you are out otherwise if the pace quickens you get left behind. You have to try and read the race and go back when either a big team is or when the break is established. All learning and one great experience.
Once the race was done, my body was really trashed yesterday. We got back to the Accommodation and I really started to battle a bit. I started to realise the toll on the legs, body and mind. I just lay on the bed for a bit and just battled. I got some shakes and battled to concentrate. I know the benefit of this week is going to be huge as long as I look after myself on the next 3 stages and get maximum reward for effort. This is by sleeping well, eating well and racing smart.
Backing up day after day at high intensity is tough to absorb, I know once next week kicks in I will be fine. Just have to keep depositing k's in the bank for this week.
I am sitting 70th overall, which is well above my expectations, however hope to be in the 60's by race end. That will be a great result. I know that I will lose time on the last stage, but just hope to be able to get bunch time the next 2 stages and others drop off a bit.
Above is the garmin file of the day, lots of ups and downs in HR which I can really start to feel the recovery side kicking in. As Damo has told me, it will be like 5 days of motor pacing, teaching the legs to ride at a high pace all day.
Today is a 90 odd k race around Echuca starting at 2pm, which gives me close to 24hrs recovery from yesterday, we are going to head out to the finish section so the guys know where to start setting up their sprint train. This is so cool just watching and learning the way they go about their business.
There is so much that I am learning which I will do a brief at the end of the tour, however just being here is priceless.
Last night I also had my TT position critiqued by Andrew and has has given me a few great tips on how to get more aero without affecting the run. This is great. He spent close to an hour looking through pics and video of me riding and gave me at least 5-6 small things that should help...Just have to introduce slowly once I get back.
This is the Pro life...