First off here is the official race video from the rainy stage 5. Unfortunately it looks like the camera has died so no further race footage from me and Ben. Maybe some one would like to sponsor me a new one?!?
After stage 5 we bumped our selves right up the GC into 24th position. Going into stage 6 we were both super motivated and feeling strong. The stage was shorter than the previous stages at only 85km, but did contain almost as much climbing as the longer stages did. It was basically 2 long climbs, once out over the mountain then up and over again on the way back before some rolling trails in the last 20km.
We were flying on the long climbs. We were riding well within the top 20 and crested the first peak by our selves in no mans land between the full time pros out front and the rest of the pack behind. We held this advantage down the descent and into the next climb. I was on the limit all day but was sure that once we crested the big climb we would consolidate our gap on the descent and hold it to the finish. We managed to hold the gap over the top but things went wrong going down! It was one of the roughest descents I have ever ridden. Riding a hardtail was the wrong choice for this race and this descent highlighted it in the most painful of manner. I was totally battered the whole way down and my muscles seized up. The trail then kicked up again on a dragging traverse and its here I cracked. Everyone caught up again and we lost our gap and got dropped. Ben dragged me all the way to the finish (again) but we never the less we still made some time on our GC rivals and bumped up to 21st place. Here is the official race video of the stage:
The final stage was a short sharp 65km affair with a few short climbs early on followed by rolling terrain towards the finish in Lorensford. I was really feeling it from the previous days efforts so was hoping that the shorter distance wouldn't mean a crazy fast pace. As it turn out it was mental! Pretty much an xc race from the gun and I suffered like a dog! Once again we were riding well within the top 20 teams but eventually the lactate in my legs got the better of me and I faded big time. We were caught and passed by a number of teams and it took all my efforts to keep on moving. That one stage in particular highlighted to me more than ever the areas that I need to improve on. We were caught by a few more team on the run in to the finish but managed to cross the line in 24th position and retain our 21st place in Elite men overall. If you had said to me at the start of the week we'd finish in the top 20 I'd never believe you. For it to actually happen is really amazing and had made me begin to re-evaluate the way I train and the races I target. With some work in the right places I see no reason why my self and Ben can't go back in a few years and push for the top 15. Its certainly something to aim at!
Here's some footage of the final stage: