Survived another day, ticked another box, got taught a few lessons along the way.
A 95k stage around Echuca and surrounding towns was the race. Basically a big square, which meant some head wind, some tail and some dreaded cross winds. Although there wasn't much wind in general, when you mix high speeds and cross winds, two things usually happen.
2. A big split in the bunch or riders getting dropped left right and centre.
So, what did happen?
I am happy to report that there was not any crashes...
The first part of the race after the neutral zone had a bit of a cross wind.
Once the boys got going, it was a massive shit fight to hold a wheel. The big teams put everyone in the gutter and it was dog eat dog for a while.
I got caught near the back as I am not interested in trying to fight for a position near the front this close to the finish of the tour, just about maximising k's in the legs.
After about 3-4k's of this there was a big split in the peleton. Of course I was in the second group along with about 40 others.
My legs were really hurting from the day before and I thought I was
going to be the first one dropped. I hung tough for as long as I could
and somehow managed to hang on.
This didn't really phase me as I was still going to get a good work out in.
When we turned into the head wind, about 10-12 of the group started working to try and catch the main field. The time gap got out to 45sec, this doesn't seem much, however at 45kph, 45 sec is a fair distance. Prob 600-700m I would think.
The team cars went through, which I think aided the group as it gave a carrot to chase..
I was content to roll with this group and finish with them as I expected to lose time anyway.
We turned with a tail wind and the gap decreased to 20 sec. This usually happens when the main bunch has something occur. On this occasion a break had slipped up the road and the peleton relaxed. This gave us the perfect opportunity just to raise the tempo a little bit to get back on.
Once we got into the main group again I decided to move towards the front as I didn't want to suffer the same fate if it happened again.
As I did this I heard a massive roar from the sidelines, my sister Ebony & Dad had made a surprise visit to cheer me on. Lucky I wasn't dagged off the back and was in the best position for me all day.
I smiled and just loved it. This gave me some more motivation so:
I saw a VIS rider attack, so for some unbeknown reason, I decided to go with him.... Hmmmm, living on the edge and in the moment is a weird and wonderful thing.
My legs were burning like an egg on a fry pan but hung tough. As I went through yesterday, you get the wrong person in the group and the peleton shuts it down. In this case the sprinters wanted the stage and there was no chance that they were going to let a break go with 30k to go... Break shut down. I slid right to the back to recover and started to chat to a few guys. the tempo was high so no action was going to take place for the next 25 k.
I knew the team plan, which is always handy, so prepared myself for a torrid last 6k when the Huon Boys were going to start riding the race to take the win.
I got into about mid field and maintained my position there into the last 3k. My goal now was to get bunch time and hope to move into the top 70 overall... Just things that keep you motivated :)
So into the last few k, I was noticing people fall away...I just tried to stick to the wheel in front and move forward when I noticed a gap appear.
Got into the last bend, safely and was 500m to go.. Just hang in there. Crossed the line confident I got the same time as the winner, you can't lose placing if you don't lose time. I was hoping that just 1 rider had dropped time so I could improve form 70th to 69th.
Rolling back to the team area, Dad & Eb were there to greet me, the smile on my face was huge.
I didn't have to say anything as I think they saw the appreciation on my face.
The garmin file once again shows the hurt I went through. I just love the last 5-6k when the team trains start to form and the pace really picks up. I could live for this (not the crashes though)
This is the Pro Life...