Today was a pretty standard race day. Wake up; on top bunk. Take off compression tights; ‘2XU’. Shower; in push button 30sec showers. Eat breakfast; in a large, loud dining hall. Pack for race; remembering socks (pictured: as Leonie didn’t, having to borrow John’s ACTAS). Team meeting; to plan race tactics. Pre-race meal; generally pasta. Car transfer to stage start; 150kms away. Get lost; despite having the ‘tom-tom’ in the race car. Arrive; park in shady area and find signage to festy squatter toilet. Kit up; by means of a towel. Warm up; the five minute ride to sign-on and then the start line. Radio check; test radios and discover who got dodgy number 4. Neutral zone; where we loop around town and arrive in the same place we had been previously. Race; very very hard.
I knew we had driven 1.5 hours for more than just the sake of it. We had driven this far because we had gone to find the hills! It was to be, and was conclusively, the deciding stage of the tour for general classification purposes. Rochelle was second when the day began, and we still had three in contention for the young rider jersey. It was 10 minutes prior to start when an old man came up to us asking (in French) what our smallest gear was. After he informed me that there would be 2km climbs at 20%, I quickly convinced Leonie to hand over her 27, and Carlee asked Nitis to change over from her 23! When we hit the first hill, Rochelle went into recovery mode, and Leonie was secretly swearing at me as she grinded her way up the climb beside Rochelle.
I drifted off the back, later regaining contact to discover that the hardest and steepest three climbs were to be run in succession over 20kms! We had missed a break of four, but their 1 minute advantage had dwindled to nothing by the time we started climbing again. After the first climb, as a girl rode beside me crying, I was past hurting, losing 4 minutes prior to finishing. After the second climb, the pace increased and Tiff lost contact. And after the third, only Vicki and Carlee remained in a group of 10, chasing back what would be the winning break of 5 (originally containing Bronzini who unfortunately punctured). Emma Johansson (AA Drink) took the victory, with Vicki finishing 8th. Only one day remains, and hopefully it‘s Rochelle’s turn to be the bride!
Results: Unofficial Blog Page: Trophee D'Or, Stage 5, Cosne-sur-Loire – Cosne-sur-Loire, 92.2kms