Our illustrious Race Director Ash Smith, has kept himself well out of the way for most of today until the final timing station of the day where he, as usual, welcomed in the competitors. He feared that after the first carry of the day he may be lynched by competitors who have portaged themselves to the edge of insanity.
Well we are happy to report he’s not been lynched and is still alive, and so are all of the competitors; but after the climb to the first special stage of the day today, perhaps Ash was wise to keep a low profile. From the beautiful campsite in Prads, to the highest point of the day at nearly 2400 metres, it was to all intent and purposes a straight 1400 metre climb mostly with a bike on your back.
If that wasn’t enough,from the col to the special stage involved partly descending on foot as the trail was too technical for most riders.
So a tough, tough morning, but one to endlessly bore the grand children, work colleagues, loved ones, or riding mates who aren’t lucky enough to be riding the race or who haven’t had the opportunity to carry a bike on their back for over a vertical kilometre. Dependant on your point of view this morning was either a walk in a very vertical park, or the ascent to Mordor.
Despite this, or perhaps because of this, as riders dropped off their timing tags most seemed to have forgotten their screaming thighs and cramping feet of the long morning, and were mostly whooping about the other three stages they’d rode that day. There’s always a good reason at the end to get dragged over the mountain tops.
Which is perhaps lucky for Ash!
There’s been some racing as well going on, and there’s some very close times.
Even if you’re not going to be first, it doesn’t meant that 21st isn’t just half a second away and you might grab the position tomorrow. Amongst the camaraderie and laughs there’s still a race to be won.