photo by britishcycling.org.uk
WORDS: Dan Craven
ToB Stage 4
Waking heart rate 63 (old stopwatch method again, but yes, that is creeping up far too much for my liking).
Lose one minute and it upsets me.
Lose 26 and it does not feel too bad.
As expected, today’s stage was truly epic. Non-stop lumpy roads and tiny lanes made everyone wonder just what on earth the organisers were thinking when they chose this route. Never mind the added rain and wind causing trouble and a few crashes along the way.
For me though, all of that is just details.
Since my little excursion on Sunday, my body has not been fond of me, which kind of explains the last two days performances. As the race was on from the gun I went backwards quickly and found myself at the back of the pack on the first descent. An infamous narrow and wet lane, it was no surprise to suddenly notice some congestion and then, coming around a corner, finding an Italian and his bike sprawled across the road.
This interruption in the group was enough to cause a split and before we knew it, there were about thirty riders down the road, and seventy left behind, which left us to create what is more commonly known as the autobus.
With seventy riders, all having various reasons for being dropped and no chance or no inclination to get back to the front of the race, someone still needs to put in the effort to set the pace on the front so that we do actually make it home. As we were only 25km into a 170km stage, this was going to be a tricky situation.
Very quickly, we dropped from four to fourteen minutes behind the front of the bunch as no one wanted to work, but soon news started coming over our race radios that the race commisaire was threatening us with exclusion from the race if we did not all get together and work to get the the finish line within a reasonable time of the winners.
Wet, tired and demotivated… you are always going to struggle to motivate a bunch of riders to work hard, but somehow we eventually got together and most riders in the group put in a bit of work to get us to the finish. And trust me, we were so glad when that finish line came into sight.
Especially me. I just hope my legs are turning over a bit better in the morrow.