Tuesday 2nd August|
Well the wheels really fell off for me today (not literally!), seeing me slip down to 5th on GC and to 3rd in my category, holding onto the podium by a mere one second from fourth. I knew I wasn’t on a good day first thing in the morning – the previous two days I had woken up before the alarm feeling pretty good. This morning, after a terrible night’s sleep (woke up at 3am and barely slept again), when the alarm went off I didn’t want to get up and felt awful. Didn’t help that it was a 5:50am rise either, because of the early 7:30am race start. Tried to bluff my way through the long day, hoping I would ride myself better, but when it came to the time trial it was hopeless, and all I could hope for was damage limitation. Today’s route had four major climbs, with the third one being timed – 10km and 637m, climbing up to 2239m. We had 4:15 ride time before we even got to the race section. I had taken the first two climbs (to peaks of 2121m and 1875m) as steady as I could, mostly keeping my heartrate under 140bpm, and been careful to keep eating and drinking. The timed climb started straight after the second descent, so although I was at the front of the field, by the time I’d paused to pee and take my armwarmers off, I was starting a little ways back. I started fast, and had to pick my way through the traffic ahead. But already the legs didn’t feel good, and my heart rate wouldn’t go up. How much of this was down to the altitude I don’t know – I don’t normally feel much effect of height, but then again I don’t often put out this sort of effort at over 2000m! My poor performance was brought home to me when a rider I’d not seen during a race section previously came round me. I was able to hold his wheel for a few kilometres, but then had to let him go. My heart rate was between 177 and 181bpm – compared to 190+ on the first stage, and 186 yesterday, not good. The climb was actually really cool, featuring over 30 hairpins, shame I couldn’t really enjoy it….. I managed some sort of sprint to the line, to clock 27:50. I would later discover this only got me 9th on the stage, losing 1:31 to my category leader, although only 1:58 to the stage winner –Giuliano again. Behind me, everyone else seemed to have a good day and improve again – Matthew was 11th, James 21st, Tim 25th and Matt 33rd. Tim immediately shot off to ride back solo and numberless, not impressed by the convoy riding. James, Matt, Tom and Shannon left soon after, just as it started raining. Meanwhile Matthew, Alex and myself took shelter before descending. We were regrouped behind the car for the final climb – back up to over 2200m, before descending (on the brakes to stay with the convoy, which is a little annoying) to Selva Gardena where the pasta had been laid on. We caught up with the others (except Tim) here, and once we had eaten, decided to ignore the convoy and ride the last 44km downhill by ourselves. Lovely descent, bit of rain in the valley, but we kept a good pace going to roll in with 154km and 3426m climbing in 7 hours of riding. As yesterday, we waited to clock in after everyone else got back – and promptly got in a bit of trouble with the race organiser – not happy for us coming down without the lead car. We played the dumb foreigner card, and just have to hope they don’t decide to disqualify us or something…… We could see one of the cars in the carpark had had a window bashed in, but it wasn’t until we got back to the B&B that Matthew and Shannon realised that they too had been broken into, with both their wallets missing. Not good. By the time that had been sorted out (they would have to go to the police station tomorrow), it was quite late by the time we went for dinner, returning to the pizzeria we ate at on Sunday. Things started well, with the same waiter this time prepared for our two-main course eating style, and taking two rounds of orders from us. But it gradually degenerated into farce and confusion as orders were changed and added to, and wrong pizzas were eaten….. Ultimately the manager was not looking too impressed with us, and I think it might be best if we don’t go there again…..
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