The reason for this were 3 King of the Mountains in the first 30 km followed by an intermediate sprint with time bonuses for the first three at km 40. Since the first 10 riders on GC were a mere 25 seconds apart these bonus seconds could mean winning or losing the race.
Needless to say the pace was furious, but thanks to a push from a teammate I was well positioned on the last 2 KOM's and managed to stay in contact when the pack sprinted for the intermediate sprint as if it was the finish line.
My hopes of a slower pace after intermediate sprint got a bad slap in the face, as the 2nd placed rider on GC went straight to the back after the sprint, provoking a group of other GC favourites go clear, making the pace super hard again, as his team was left chasing.
Although I felt like almost getting dropped all the way to the circuit (which already came at 85km into the stage), I managed to endure the pace in strung out peloton on the slippery roads.
The finishing circuit was ridiculous once again. Extremely tight corners and lots of traffic furniture made it very dangerous once more. It also meant that you basically had to brake to a stop before the corner and then sprint up to 65km/h in a strung out line just to stop 200m later and do the same again.
As I was in the first 30 riders coming onto the circuit for the first time, it was not too bad at first, but 7 laps of 7km followed and I found myself slipping further and further back, struggling more and more to accelerate out of every corner.
2 laps to go and the elastic broke. But I didn't mind because it would mean I would comfortably finish in the time limit and thus finish the Tour.
Finishing 79th on GC, a stunning 41 minutes down on the winner almost felt like a victory because I had managed to overcome a mid-tour breakdown and turn myself inside out to finish. You don't get stronger from easy races and going fullgas for 7 days in a row will surely get me some good strength in a few weeks time.
Now it's recovery time!
|The Briton's love cycling. Clearly.|
|Twisty circuit again|
|Road furniture claiming its first victim after the finish line|
|The weather didn't improve|