Well the Andalucia bike race turned into a bit of a dissapointment results wise due to Ben's unfortunate hand injury, but still none the less was a brilliant week. For the last two days I carried on alone but wouldn't be counted in the results.
On stage 4 I decided to ride with Rich and Ant who were trying to get on the masters podium and helped them out where I could. This basically involved being a domestique! I rode hard on the flats for them and helped close gaps on the climbs when I could. I also gave them water when they ran out. It was quite a satisfying day in all honesty. It's nice to be able to make a difference and play a useful part in a race.
The final day I decided to ride as hard as I could and see what I could actually do. The start of the stage was a flattish fire road affair and I managed to latch onto the second group. As we hit the first big climb of the day we were only 30seconds down on the front group which contained all the main protagonists of the race. Up the first climb I managed to hang on for dear life. When it steepened I had to dig deep to hold on and if I did get dropped I just rode as hard as possible untill i caught up again. I crested the summit of the climb still in the group and stayed with them untill the next long steep climb. I was instantly dropped here but focused on my own tempo and gradually caught the group up again half way up at the timing point. We were only 4minutes down on the leaders and I could see them clearly ahead on the climb. It was a big moment for me and gave me lots of confidence that I can actually ride well in these big races. I just about clung onto the big group over the summit and again over a smaller climb before descending into the feed zone. After the feed the group exploded and I found myself about half way down the remains. I dug in up the last long climb and hammered the slippery descent as fast as I dare. At the finish I was 14minutes behind the winners and rather pleasingly it would have placed me in 15th position on the stage had I been in the results. All in all a very pleasing day and very confidence inspiring for the Cape epic.
I wasnt able to film the last few stages as Ben had the camera but I have put together this short video showing the crazy stage neutral zones.... enjoy!