An early start was required today as we had to drive to Lumsden for the start of stage 6 to the Crown Range. It was overcast and spitting when we left but the rain held off for most of the day and even turned into bright sunshine at the top of The Terraces on the Crown Range.
The race pace was slower than those of the previous days as this time the peloton was riding straight into a head wind. This didnít stop the attacks from happening though and eventually a group got away, although it never had more than a 2 minute gap.
Andy, Floyd and Sam rode on the front for a lot of the day, sharing the load with Share the Road. Will and Andre were in the mix as well doing a really good job for such a makeshift team. When feeding opened at 50 kms it was Andre who came back for the bottles and gels. Aray also came back for more food while the peloton was going up and down the roller coaster hills of the Devilís Staircase but with consummate ease. Floyd meanwhile had stopped to answer the call of nature and as he came past as on the outside tossed his arm-warmers into Janeís lap Ė perfect shot with perfect timing.
The break got swallowed up as the speed of the bunch accelerated through Frankton leaving only Joe Cooper out on his own to claim the last of the KOM points on offer before the Crown Range. He too was caught by the impetus of the fight between Share the Road and Calder Stewart/BikeNZ, whereupon Jack Bauer took a perfectly timed flier to launch himself into a solo attack at the 113 km mark.
By this time, Andy, Sam, and eventually Andre, had retired to the comfort of the smaller groups having done their work for the day, leaving Aray and Will to battle to get Floyd to the front.
The substantially reduced bunch eventually caught Jack Bauer and then split up completely as the riders hit the bottom of the climb to the Terraces. Floyd and Aray made their way to the top Floyd finishing in 6th place and Aray in 22nd. Will wasnít far behind in 24th while the other three took their own good time to get to the finish.
The only blight on the dayís proceedings was a fine for Sam. Heíd had a buckled wheel and after the bunch had left him to his own devices, he tried to sort it out while holding onto a van for a few seconds and taking a slingshot off some others. Sam accepted his fine and relegation to last place for the day. But at least heís back in the race and we still have 6 men in the team. With relief and renewed enthusiasm, Iím sure Sam will be working harder than ever for the cause tomorrow.