Big stage today with many big, long, and sometimes very steep climbs. Most noted on the day is the climb up to French Pass which begins at about mile 11. The trail is there, but barely. Today's start was a bit more mellow for me. I rode on the top 10 of the entire field for the opening miles. The race did spread out quickly. Our race leader, Yuki was on my wheel briefly, before coming around and beginning his job of the day....keeping his lead. Jorge was also up the trail. Not in sight to often for me early.
Having done this route both in racing and in training, I knew to save some matches for the big climb at mile 29 to 31. I settled into my pace and found myself sharing the trail pretty much all day with Travis Brown. Not a bad guys to be racing along side of. He was getting me on the downhills....I would get him on some of the climbs. Key word there is "some".
While climbing up French Pass I was caught by 4th place finisher from yesterday, Christian. He was riding well....climbing strong. I had him in sight all day....but never could get close. On the descent of French Pass, chasing Travis, I came across Tostado fixing his 2nd flat of the day. Both Travis and Tostado beat me to the descent. Now on the dirt road climb to Georgia Pass, I bridged up to Travis and Tostado. Tostado was on front and charging hard. Travis was the first to 'pop'. A few minutes later it is was me. Tostado rode away....to then win the stage in the 6-day race. Near the summit of Georgia Pass, Travis caught me then put time on me on the descent of the Colorado Trail. I would not see him until later in the stage....fixing a flat.
At the bottom of the Colorado Trail / Georgia Pass descent, I came upon Christian, who was riding in 3rd. We rolled into the final aid station together and he complained of cramping. Now with a big climb in front of us, I settled into my pace. Christian dangled off my wheel....but not far. While climbing we came upon Jorge, who was in 2nd in the GC and the stage. We both caught him....then Christian pulled away. I would not catch him. For the rest of the stage, Jorge and I would battle.....attacking each other. Soon we came upon Yuki, who had a flat tire and just finished changing it. We passed Yuki, but he caught back up.
With only about 3 miles left, Christian was off the front. Yuki, Jorge and I were playing cat and mouse. Yuki got away....and stayed away. This left Jorge and I left to duke it out over the next few miles. I got away from Jorge. I thought I had him beat. But he came up on me with only 1.5 miles left. He got a gap on me that I could not close. All 4 of us would finish within 1 minute of each other. It was an insane race in the last 10 miles!
The numbers don't lie.
3-Day GC after 2 days of racing.
Here is today's data on Strava.
Tomorrow is the last stage. Yuki is in the lead from 2nd place by 4 minutes. I am 8 minutes behind Jorge in 2nd. I have a 19 minute lead in 3rd place. Anything can happen and any of the 4 riders from today could take the stage and/or overall GC!