After Tuesdays stage in Cordoba where we managed to finish 24th we were in high spirits. The goal was to reach the top 25 overall and try for a top 15 in a stage. I was sure I could improve as the stages went on. Our stage result pretty much depended on me as I am by far the weaker rider but i was confident that I could up my game.
So on Wednesday we lined up on the start line ready to race hard. The first climb went fairly well for me. Every time it kicked up steeply I would be dropped from the group but I was able to latch back on when the gradient eased. Over the first climb we were in a good group, around 20th position. I decided to get to the front on the fast fire road descent to give my self a bit of slipping room on the next long climb and I pushed it hard. As we hit the bottom I saw that Ben was around 30seconds off the back but as we were about to hit a long climb I wasn't worried as he was bound to catch me right away, or so I thought. I sat on the back of the group as we passed the feed zone and I could see Ben in the small group behind. Soon the group joined with mine but Ben was no where to be seen!
So I waited untill another big group caught us but still no Ben. Rich and Ant (fellow brits) were in the group but said they hadn't passed him. So then I thought maybe I had missed him and he was ahead! So what did I do? Did I stop and wait or carry on? I decided to ride the climb super slowly and hope he caught me. But he didn't and I ended up riding the whole stage at a snails pace wondering where he had vanished too. To make matters worse I had a double puncture on the awesome final descent and had to run a kilometer until I was given another tube be a kind passing rider.
I reached the finish line a bit annoyed but mostly worried. Guess who met me there? Yep. Ben was waiting. It turns out that an innocuous fall the previous day had hurt his hand a little more then he had let on. Unfortunately he was unable to hold on down the first descent of the day and abandoned at the feed zone. It also happened to be the first time in the entire week that we had split up so I had no idea at all that he had abandoned and waited all day for him! A few good lessons learned there then.
So for the remained of the race I riding alone and not counting for the results. Today I rode with Rich and Ant and helped them by giving them my drinks when they ran out. Maybe I'll see what I can do by my self tomorrow, we'll see what happens!