The Conclusion of One Tough Race!
After yesterday’s brutal climbing stage, today was a relatively easier rolling route to end the proceedings of 5 days of hard, hot racing!
The GC was more or less decided on yesterday’s stage and teams were more or less looking to defend their positions.
The route had a couple of gentle inclines which could lead to not so gentle efforts that could change things up a bit. In our group of 40-49 category, Project852 had the leader’s jersey to defend and they were setting the pace with leader, Philippe Altherr, himself riding right at the front. Matador Racing, Mavericks and CCN all had riders at the front. There were a couple of strong efforts on the inclines but the bunch managed to stay together.
We almost got gapped at the incline at 25 km mark but we crested and the peloton slowed down near the crest and the group got together. After a fast downhill, we reached the long climb around 34 km mark and the effort immediately jumped again. It was not steep but the length of it meant we had to put in 350+w to stay in the group. I was suffering and couldn’t hang on. Mohan, Mahesh and I got distanced and saw Arvind slowly getting dropped from the group as well. We regrouped and started riding together along with James(Project852).
Once the climb is done, it was a nice downhill where we picked up Russell and Rajani. We decided to keep rolling at a steady pace and complete the race as soon as possible. Around 60 km mark, we saw one rider in Master’s category a bit ahead of us. We increased the pace to ensure that the rider doesn’t get on our train as we went past him. We stepped off the gas only after about 10 mins by which time we couldn’t see him any more. After that, we kept slowing down a bit for Russell but he dug deep to ride with us and rode strong.
With 8km to go, I have asked Arvind and Rajani to go as Russell was struggling and I decided bring him to the line. With 2km to go, chase group from 30-39 and 50-59 group and we stayed behind them and crossed the line. The finish line was 1km away from our resort and we rode straight to the resort. It was just a huge relief that it was finally over. Racing in these conditions is hard and the field is just incredibly strong.
I came here out of shape but wanted to do whatever I could to my team even if it is just passing water. It was 5 hard days but off the bike, I not only enjoyed the company of my teammates and friends but also got to meet and interact with some of the best amateur athletes from all around the world. I’m taking away much more than what I was expecting. It was also great to see some of my teammates and friends doing well here and taking away a great experience of proper stage racing. I’m really happy that I have attempted this. I now first hand experience of what it takes to do well in these sort of races.
In Open category, Nattaphom Boonrod from Grant Thronton Ceepo won the sprint. All the leaders in GC finished in the lead bunch and the top 5 remained the same. Jean Lou Paiani took the win and the yellow jersey in the category.
In Junior category Muhummad Hanafikrueji took the overall win and took the Purple jersey.
In 30-39 category, Takei Kyosuke Wave One SwiftCarbon team took the sprint win and the GC remained the same with Roman Barbier taking the overall win!
In 40-49, Pavol Krizal of Nich broke away from the bunch from 40k mark and soloed to win for the stage. He did not finish stage 4 and hence is out of GC. So, he was let go and the rest of the bunch contested the sprint. The GC remained same with Philippe of Project852 taking the win in the category.
Ralph Sigg took the win in 50-59 category. Here you see Philippe standing in for him in Blue jersey of 50-59 leader’s jersey.
Adrian Halkes won the Master’s category and the orange jersey. Russell finished 4th overall.
In Women’s category, Chiho Miura took the win for the day and the GC overall as well.
Complete results are available here.
For now, it is just rest and recover and prepare for the upcoming races back in Bangalore. The experience of racing here has been an incredible learning experience and I will likely do a separate post on that.