Today was the longest stage at 163 kms. Although the profile wasn’t exactly flat, it wasn’t the sort of day for the GC contenders. Instead it was a chance for riders lower down on GC to get into a break and score some sprint and KOM points before the finish. Several attempts were made to get away and our battered Aussie rider Will was one of the hardest triers, getting into a number of moves. However, with some highly placed riders in those breaks they all got snuffed out by Share the Road, who were keen to keep the yellow jersey on Jeremy Yates’ back for another day.
In the first few sprints before hand Aray managed to score a win and a second, before retreating to the safety of the big bunch.
Andre was in the mix for a while too, until he suffered a puncture. A less than speedy wheel change meant that the convoy had almost completely passed him before he got back on his bike. With one of the commissaires watching us, we knew we would not be allowed to draft Andre back to the bunch, so we had to leave him behind and go back to your position place in the convoy.
As a result of Floyd’s 4th place yesterday and with two Share the Road riders ahead of us, we were placed in 3rd position behind Share the Road and Calder Stewart/BikeNZ. Jane and I had never been this far up in the convoy with last 14th place being our best place last year. I have to say, you can definitely see a lot more of what’s going on in the race, just 200 metres as opposed to 1 km behind the pack.
Anyway, we thought we’d lost Andre for good as he was behind the Tail End Charlie police vehicle but to our surprise and relief, we saw him come steaming past determined to make it back to the front. We managed to slow him down long enough to hand him a fresh bottle and then watched as he got onto the back of the peloton, where he stayed for the rest of the race.
Up front Sam Will and Floyd were jostling for position and trying to open gaps. But with Floyd in 4th place, Share the Road and Calder Stewart weren’t going to let him get away and soon chased down their sorties off the front.
Inevitably a break of riders who weren’t a threat to the overall classification snuck away. Andy McNab, our youngest rider at 19, managed to infiltrate the break and even collected a sprint prime and some points and dollars in one of the KOM primes. But it was a long hot day and eventually it told on Andy, as Joe Cooper from Subway Avanti put the hammer down and stretched out the break of 6 riders. The break then became 2 as the other 3 riders, like Andy, were absorbed by the chasing bunch with less than 5 kms to the finish line.
Joe Cooper and Bevan Mason had too much of a gap though and managed to stay ahead of the bunch finishing 1st and 2nd in that order. Our big boy from Melbourne, Sam had a crack and had a gap of several metres before a marshall stepped out into the road in front of him, forcing Sam to lock up his wheels and back right off, so that he had no option but to finish in, rather than in front of, the sprinting group.
Floyd was giving Aray a handy lead out but into the second to last corner they got some wet tar – Floyd went straight rather than lose it in the turn and Aray did the best he could finishing in the top 10.
At the end of the day all of the lads survived. They earned a few dollars, sweated a lot of salt and burned a lot of carbs but they all stayed upright.
No change to GC, Floyd’s in 4th Aray’s in 19th (and 5th in the U23 competition) and we’re third car in the convoy again tomorrow.