We had a bit of a longer transfer to the start this morning so we loaded up on the bus and headed there. This time was different also in that the start and finish was the same. The finish of this stage was nice 800meter hill, with a a straight run into 1km before making two sweeping corners onto the climb. But first was the one and only KOM on the day at 14km in and of course the wind. Our plan was fairly simple, cover moves on the climb, guide Phil up the climb so he could take some KOM points, be ready for the crosswinds, and then line up the team for Phil in the finish.
Everything started of pretty well. We were covering moves up the climb, and helped Phil towards the end of climb. Then we started the decent. I happened to follow a move at the bottom and who would have thunk that was it. One guy from the Polish team bridged across to join the Asian guy and myself. We just slowly pulled away and built up a good gap of over 5 minutes 60km's in.
For a while there I was really starting to think this could be the move. The wind was strong, but never terrible early on. Mostly cross, and a bit of tail. We were taking steady even pulls the whole way. Around 30km's to go we started to pick up the pace as the gap was down to 3 minutes, and the pulls got shorter. This also just happened to be when we made the final turn for a while and hit a head cross. Our pace dropped a bit, but we continued to work hard. With 10km to go it was less then a minute as the cars were being pulled from behind us and we could see the field behind us. At one point it looked like it stretched back out again. Under 2km's to go I took a pull and flicked the guy to come through. I glanced back and didn't see anyone. Then I looked a bit further back only to see the head of the field come flying by as we hit the 1km banner. Oh so close. I thought for sure this would have been the day.
As hard as my day was I think Chad Hartley's day may have been harder. After 50km's or so Phil flatted so he gave up his wheel. With the team car up with me Chad was hoping to get a wheel from neutral support who just so happened to pass him up. Now what? Well you wait for the broom wagon and take a wheel off one of those bikes, and that is what he did. So after slogging on his own for 75km's with 6km's to go the broom wagon tells him to get in. He says no way and finished the final 6km's to make the time cut and start tomorrow.
Tomorrow is a circuit race and then there are two road races with a few climbs. Things could get interesting over the next few days. Phil is still sitting pretty in the GC and that stage win is still alluding us.
The finish of stage two after the race.
Chad and Jonny on the bus on the way home.