While there is not really such a thing as a recovery day, after stage 3 today could be looked on fondly.
Team Betway kept it constant and steady and was never in any real difficulty. We were fortunate to have ridden about 70km of today’s 111km training, and we knew the heavy lifting was to come in the second half of the stage.
We knew most of the climbs and had planned how we would approach the whole stage building up to the final 700m ascent in the last 30km. T
oday had only 2000m of climbing, the lowest so far, but it made up for that by the nature of the surface. Worcester must have the largest collection of rocks and stones anywhere, in addition to the vineyards and orchards, stones must be a local crop.
Km after km was ridden over a brutal surface of rock, stone and sand. We do see some hard-tails but thank heavens for dual suspension bikes.
The focus today was for me to take it as easy as possible in anticipation of Friday’s tough stage to Wellington.
While Gareth climbed each ascent like a mountain goat, calling on anyone portaging their bikes up the severe inclines to move over, I joined in the portage wherever I felt the energy conservation made sense.
111km still wears you down, but we finished in good shape with no mechanicals other than a number of punctures that were filled by the liquid sealant (we had loaded up on this as Worcester has very jaggered rocks and plenty of thorns).
We did see some friends of ours struggling to fix a broken pedal with 13 km to the next water/tech zone, it was terrible to see what you knew would be a tight finish. Turns out they made the cut-off, fantastic news.
A section of today’s race doubled back on itself albeit on different trails a few hundred meters apart. While we were descending at 37km, the pro teams were returning at the 85km mark.
They did start 50 min before us, but the difference in distance would be massive in any case, the speed at which they were ascending a long and pretty tricky trail was astounding.
We pulled off just to watch them, it was one of those Epic moments. We have just heard at the race briefing that tomorrow’s stage has been extended by 4km to 121km. Same 10hr cut-off. Oh great!
See you in Wellington.