They said stage 3 and 4 were the hardest, but for some reason today seemed extra hard. It could be the hot, sandy headwind for about 100 km out of 117. Or it could be the soaring temps or the 4 days of hard riding in my legs, or the lack of sleep, or non Allen Lim approved food quality. Either way, it was another peloton day and I tried to go out pretty hard to get into a good group for the day. The pace settled a bit after the first hour and I got antsy again, but the winds were brutal, so there was no way to go alone (see photo):
The group seemed content to putter along and not really work together. It wasn’t until another big group caught us with about 40 km to go that the paced stepped back up. There were plenty of racers who got lost today, but thankfully, our group did not. Scott, a British racer, ended up in our group today and it was really nice to have an English speaking rider to break up the monotony a bit. I came in together with another female riding in a mixed team. She is not in my classification, so I was content to ride with her and not duke it out. I won the solo women’s stage and now have about a 2.5 hour lead in the overall because the 2nd place female, Rocio (yesterday’s stage winner) got lost today. 2nd and 3rd women are now just 2 minutes apart in the general classification, so they will have a real race on their hands. My strategy is still to go out fairly hard to make a decent group and then relax and watch for course markings. I’m definitely tired and don’t have much juice left in the legs. I really feel it when we hit the sand pits and have to try to punch through.
Specialized Spain teammate, Roberto Heras is in 1st in the men’s overall. He lost about 8 minutes today because he was having stomach problems and had to stop for a “nature break” three times. He still has about a 10 minute lead in the overall classification. This race is definitely not just about who has the strongest legs, but also the strongest stomach, and the best luck.
Tomorrow, we finish the race and get to stay in a real hotel with single person showers!!!!! I bet there won’t be sand in the bed either!!
Our Sandy Beds: