Funny how the longer a tour goes on the less frequent communication becomes! Well no excuses now as I’m resting up at my team director’s house waiting for my flight tomorrow! Yes a full 48 hours after finishing this tour I will leave. I am one to be productive with my time, but with more time away from family, it seems like quite a long wait!
Day 8: this was the queen stage with the 6.5k climb to the mine. I was frustrated by my seemingly inability to sleep when I woke at 4:15pm (we had to get up at 5 anyway for the stage start at 7:30am). Never-the-less I got on with the day constructively and paid only a moderate amount of attention to the fact I was coughing an awful lot. I quite can’t remember the start but I know I made it into the day’s main break and didn’t feel like I had to work hard. Unfortunately we got caught at the top of the first main climb (cat 1), even after I lifted the tempo.
Over the top and down the other side I felt really bad so I thought if I wasn’t going to be able to do anything up the climb then I might as well go for the most combatitive jersey, so I attacked again. Two came with me and we made it to the base of the climb to the mine together. At one point David my team mate started coming across but I screamed and gesticulated at him to stop as that our plan was for only one of us to be up the road so that the yellow jersey team would not chase. Unfortunately in hindsight I made the wrong decision as it would have been better for David to be there to get a head start up the hill as he would have had a good chance of winning. Hindsight….
I suffered like most other mortals up the dirt/rock compacted road but it wasn’t until about 5 hours afterwards that the fever took hold of me and made me feel really weak.
Day 9: unfortunately and fortunately for me I contracted the fever on the hardest day. Unfortunately, as it would have been nice to have gone better up the climb, fortunately, I had more than 24hours to recover before the start of the next stage, 11 and ½ of which I slept. We were woken at 4am to get on the “6am” flight (left at 6:30am) to the Ilhe de Marie (small island off the main one). We started the stage at 1pm, which is awful late for this race. I sat in and recuperated some more. Dan Barry, fellow Christchurcher won this stage.
Day 10: came after what was a really long day (in hut on floor for sleep at 11:45pm – yesterday’s logistics actually ran like this: car-plane-bus-bike (race)-boat (to another island)-car). I actually had a great sleep and was ready for action again. Finally the break stuck after 45k, which I made and I thereafter implemented the rest of my plan to win a stage. Man I was gutted to come out of this stage 2nd! I attacked strongly with 10k to go. I was caught. I attacked again 5k to go this time I got a huge gap. But that gap got annihilated in the last 2k by a rampaging Le Reunion rider who found assistance behind the media/journalist car. He pumped me in the sprint, me an unhappy camper. One thing about racing now is that I really want to move on from my ‘what ifs’ and ‘should haves’ as quick as possible. I feel I did that pretty well this day.
Day 11: final day sprint around the sea front of Noumea the island’s capital. Once again after a good sleep and still feeling better than the day before I was up for a good crack at the win. I also wanted the bonus of most combatitive jersey so I attacked at nearly every possibility and made every break. In the final break of the day I attacked with 5km to go making a good distance. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and I was reeled in in the last kilometre. Once again unhappy camper, but once again, time to move on quickly.
So for the most part this has been a great tour. I do worry a little about the high rotation of biddons meaning it’s pretty easy to pick something up over here. I do really want to come away from this tour with a road stage win at least next time. But the weather wasn’t hot, my host team were great, the training and racing was superb, and because of the low numbers of participants (65 starters) it wasn’t super dangerous. Hope to be back next year!
Thanks for reading